Is there a reason for preferring ISIL name over ISIS version?
September 4, 2014 3:43 AM   Subscribe

Media reports often note that Obama's use of 'ISIL' refers to the exact same thing as ISIS, and that it spools out to ' the Levant.' But is there a *reason* for continuing to use distinct terminology?
posted by mmiddle to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's a difference in the translation/understanding of their use of "al-Sham," a geographical term, in their name.

A comparable example would be an "X of America" group that has significant Canadian presence: should that be translated, if the language in question lacks the concept of 'America' as a synonym for the USA, as "of the United States of America" or "of North America"?
posted by flibbertigibbet at 3:56 AM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

well timed BBC magazine article has its thoughts. (seriously, that is literally what I was just reading before coming to AskMe)
posted by missmagenta at 4:31 AM on September 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

Interesting question and one that sprang to my mind last night when I caught up on PMQs. I noticed the establishment now uniformly use the term ISIL as opposed to ISIS.
posted by numberstation at 5:52 AM on September 4, 2014

Islamic State (IS) is the correct term to use in English.

Here's a good article from the Washington Post. Here's a related blog post from Hassan Hassan.

The group never self-identified as ISIL or ISIS. "ISIL" is maybe somewhat better than "ISIS", but neither is really correct. The word translated as "Iraq" does not mean "Iraq" in the modern sense.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:01 AM on September 4, 2014

Thanks, all! I can understand that there are nuances in translation, and that companies named ISIS might want to rebrand, and I will pay closer attention to see if most media are conforming to the administration's preference. But it seems like a minor distraction that we the public could do without, i.e. no compelling reason for starting/maintaining the distinction.
posted by mmiddle at 7:24 AM on September 4, 2014

I think 'we the public' depends on which public you are talking about. In the USA it is/was ISIL, whereas in the UK it is/was Isis (note lower case). Different strokes, different folks.
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:59 AM on September 4, 2014

There was a recent Slate article about this but IMO Western media prefers the hissing sound of "ISIS" because it sounds evil, unlike "ISIL" (and also I'm sure there's an assumption that most 'murcans are unfamiliar with The Levant).
posted by Rash at 9:51 AM on September 4, 2014

From what I understand, these nutcases believe their Islamic caliphate should cover the Middle East and they ignore the boundaries of Syria and Iraq. Not to mention, Iraq and Syria don't want this group taking over their land or operating in their countries. So in that sense, calling it the Islamic State of those particular two countries isn't really accurate to me. But that's just my personal thought.

I've been reading too much about this group (I have the trouble sleeping to prove it) but ISIS seems like the most popular term in the media. Likely because "Levant" requires explanation as to what area that is. But also saying "ISIS" is easy. I think the next most used term I see IS or Islamic State, although I must admit I don't like that this term tends to inadvertently give these savages legitimacy and confirm an existence of an Islamic State. As far as I'm concerned there is not an Islamic caliphate so referring to the so-called Islamic State is wrong. Some Muslims take issue with this group claiming to be an Islamic State as well because of the values they project onto Islam.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:30 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

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