Unspeakably Trivial


Sitting, as I am, in a part of Portugal once known as Al-Gharb ( “The West” , or as we now call it, The Algarve) and as such part of Al-Andalus, which Osama insists must be returned to Islamic rule before peace can be declared of course my mind has wandered to other things called Al.

The prefix Al means “the” (please, linguists, don’t pile in, this is good enough for our purposes here) in Arabic and the diversity of the language means that Al Gore can mean some different things in different places.

My translator in the Green Zone in Baghdad insists that Al-Gore means “the valley” and John provides two further variations:

If it’s Al-Ghor (the guttural ‘ghein’ sound) then it’s a declivity, lowland, depression.

If it’s Al-Gor (an Egyptian hardening of the letter ‘jim’), then it’s injustice, oppression, tyranny, outrage.

Iain Murray of this parish offers:

Algor, funnily enough, is Latin for “cold.” The plural, Algores, is a colloquialism for “bad weather.”

So take the meaning as you wish, a cold, depressing tyranny? Or the ex-Vice President?

(Yes, yes, I know, a fine one to talk, someone whose last name means “a man who knows how to build barns”.)


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