It pleases me to announce that I now have a standardized spelling of “Tuareg” programmed into Autocorect in Microsoft Word.
I find that I often type it as “Touareg,” just out of habit, because I find it, visually a prettier word. I was unable to determine what the Tuareg themselves prefer (I don’t think that woudl exactly be the easiest task for a pastoralist nomadic people living in possibly the most oppressive desert region of the globe), so I settled on Tuareg as the standard because it is the most common spelling in English today, and most poeple in the U.S. know Touareg as a model of Volkswagen.
Speaking of which, does anyone remember the Volkswagen Scirocco, named after the Italian word for the Mediterranean wind that blows off the Sahara? Thanks for making North African adventure fiction seem less exotic than ever, fuckers. Maybe you could call your next model the Volkswagen Quicksand instead of the Volkswagen Fech Fech?
In fact, all of Volkswagen’s models from that era were named after winds. Some of them survive, like so:
The Scirocco name derives from the Italian word for the Sirocco wind — and the period in its history when Volkswagen named vehicles after prominent winds, including also Passat (after the German word for Trade wind), Golf (after Gulf Stream), Bora (after Bora), Polo (after Polar Winds), and Jetta (after Jet stream).
I know I am prone to off-color humor, but it seems like a bad idea to name any line of products after a bunch of different winds. I remember being about 12 and playing Trivial Pursuit in Lake Tahoe with some friends. One of the questions concerned the VW Scirocco and its namesake, the hot Sahara wind. For the rest of the weekend, whenever any of us farted, we announced proudly, “Here comes the Scirocco — the hot Tahoe wind!”
Anyway, back to more dignified concerns: In deciding on a spelling of Tuareg to stick with, it wasn’t just Touareg I had to deal with. If words transliterated from Arabic are a nightmare for speakers of European languages, believe me, ones from Berber tongues are even more confusing.
I rejected the occasionally seen “Twareg” as being a visually hideous word, and although “Touarick” may actually be more contemporary to what I’m writing, I dismiss it as vaguely dysphemistic. I’m sorry, but adding ck’s to a word where none belong is just, I don’t know, unnecessary.
Oh, also, in case anyone cares, I now autocorrect “wadi” to “oued.” Having been so deeply affected by Emmanuel Jal’s War Child, in which it is spelled “wadi,” I will always want to type it with the Sudanese spelling instead of the Algerian one. Both words are pronounced the same way: “wah-dee.”
Just, you know, in case anyone cares.
AUTOCORRECT FTW! And if deciding on a spelling for Tuareg isn’t a First Word problem solved, then I don’t know what is.
Image: Tuareg man in Algeria, by Garrondo, via Wikipedia. Creative Commons.