Thursday, April 12, 2007

cultural cringe

I've noticed that the term Insh'allah is used more and more by Western speakers, and I don't just mean by the likes of George Galloway, who uses it - I suspect - rather cynically to ingratiate himself with Muslim audiences. Hugh Sykes recently used the phrase on Radio 4 in a despatch from Iraq, saying "…and the Deputy Prime Minister will, insh'allah, be in hospital by now". Rather predictably, one of Melanie Phillips' correspondents complained to the BBC about it, as you can see in this entry from Melanie's nasty blog, but didn't manage to draw blood from a nonchalant editor at Broadcasting House. Elsewhere, I noted a young man use the term conversationally with a shopkeeper the other day - they may have both been muslims, but I got the feeling it was used as a gesture of friendship and empathy, although I may have been wrong.

Either way, I like the way it's used, although I think I'd be too self-conscious to use it myself - but it's probably predictable that I'd like it, seeing as I have a bit of a weak spot for Islamic culture and a wet liberal-lefty instinct to be as multicultural as is feasibly possible. When I was a kid, I was very proud that my father could converse with the kids he taught in patois. It's lucky that I spent my teenage years pretending to be a mod, or else I'd probably be a bloody hippy by now, my floors and walls covered in ethnic rugs.


Stephen Newton said...

As Melanie says 'Further comment is unnecesary'.

jonathan said...

I know - and I feel bad for breaking Melanie's rules!