Afghans not Afghanis

September 2nd, 2009 at 1:46 pm by David Farrar

TVNZ last night reported:

Witnesses say one of the attackers yelled out the name of an Afghani youth gang.

And NZPA today reported:

One of the attackers reportedly yelled out the name of an Afghani youth gang during the attack on Monday afternoon, which was possibly sparked by comments on the social networking website Bebo.

A citizen of is called an Afghan, not an Afghani.

An Afghani is the currency of Afghanistan.

From the Concise Oxford Dictionary:

Afghan noun: 1 a native or national of Afghanistan, or a person of Afghan descent.
adjective: relating to Afghanistan, its people or their language.

afghani noun: (pl. afghanis) the basic monetary unit of Afghanistan, equal to 100 puls.

Would media please stop calling Afghans, Afghanis. It is like calling a European, a Euro.

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63 Responses to “Afghans not Afghanis”

  1. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Good point. A good way to remember the correct name for an Afghanistan citizen is to recall the old Australian outback saying: dry as an Afghan camel driver’s jock strap.

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  2. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    Or John Key’s Afghanistanian!

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  3. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    Indeed, GPT1 – you beat me to it.

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  4. unaha-closp (1,165 comments) says:

    They were called Euros well before there was a euro.

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  5. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    World speculators increasingly call the NZ dollar the kiwi. Does the “euro for Europeans” premise mean it’s wrong to call a New Zealander a Kiwi? Especially as the humans are solid while the currency is a bit flaky and hyped up.

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  6. Leg Break (89 comments) says:

    Just think biscuits.

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  7. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    So what do you do when a former citizen of Afghanistan refers to herself and others as Afghani?

    Isn’t this a bit like the ‘Maori’ thing. We have been conditioned to believe since at least 1990 that the correct way to render the plural of Maori is, well, ‘Maori’. Yet Maoris, some of whom include my relatives, are quite happy to say ‘Maoris’, smirking at earnest pakeha efforts to not be offensive.

    My mother used to bake wonderful Afghans (biscuits). I never quite managed it, although one of my daughters did.

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  8. Manolo (13,775 comments) says:

    Same goes for Argentine or Argentinian.

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  9. Ryan Sproull (7,153 comments) says:

    Which is correct for referring to the people, Manolo?

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  10. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    A citizen of Afghanistan is called an Afghan, not an Afghani.

    An [a]fghani is the currency of Afghanistan.

    If you’d read a little further (or in the Shorter Oxford – which is counter-intuitively longer than the concise) you’d have found that the English word Afghan derived from the Pashto word afghani. Perhaps not as clear cut as you think!

    And, in the Chambers Dictionary (the Cambridge University equivalent of the Concise Oxford) you’d come across the following:

    Afghan adj belonging or relating to Afghanistan, a republic in S Asia, its inhabitants or their language. noun 1 (also Afghani) a citizen or inhabitant of, or person born in, Afghanistan.

    You’ve covered a wide variety of topics on Kiwiblog, DPF, but I think this one on the obscure differences between Oxford and Cambridge English is a first.

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  11. Manolo (13,775 comments) says:

    I use the term Argentinian (also listed by the Oxford Dictionary) for the nationality. The American Heritage dictionary says Argentine is also valid, but I prefer the former.

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  12. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Re Graeme Edgeler at 2.23…

    Without wishing to be pedantic, Graeme, where did you get the Cambridge University link with Chambers?

    Tempus edax rerum
    Chambers is the Scottish-published dictionary of Chambers-Harrap, originally Chambers, and now part Hodder Education Group.That, I think is part of the American publishing group, Hachette. My guess is the internet has reduced demand for print-on-paper dictionaries. Hence amalgamations etc.

    Chambers is an excellent dictionary regardless. Too bad it’s no longer run by the Scottish mob who made its name.

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  13. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    I always use Argentine as the noun, and Argentinian as the adjective.

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  14. Mike S (229 comments) says:

    Pakistan – Pakistani; Iraq – Iraqi; Baluchistan – Baluchi

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  15. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    so what was it all about?

    some kids did a school invasion to assault someone and they ate afghan biscuits?

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  16. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Without wishing to be pedantic, Graeme, where did you get the Cambridge University link with Chambers?

    You know, I’m really not sure. It’s been with me a while, that’s for sure. You’re right, of course, but maybe the CUP printed it some time in the past?

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  17. andrei (2,653 comments) says:

    Yeah- this is a mischievous post to bring forth a discussion that DPF does not want to enter into directly and have people toss the R word at him.

    Incidently I believe Afghanistani is the correct form – Afghan being a corruption of Pashtun just one of the peoples of that so called nation.

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  18. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Re Andrewi at 2.50…

    Are you accusing DPF of throwing in the towels?

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  19. andrei (2,653 comments) says:

    Well maybe DPF thought a post on the etymology of the correct collective noun for natives of Afghanistan would be a good way to while a way a damp dreary Thursday afternoon.

    Or maybe there is an aspect to this incident that dare not be spoken – rather a beating about the bush.

    Perhaps we should explore the Bebo angle?

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  20. Jonathan Milne (1 comment) says:

    If we’re arguing Oxford vs Cambridge, there’s a great debate to be had about the appropriate placement of a comma towards the end of a list of nouns.

    Graeme Edgeler and Jack5: Cambridge University Press publishes its own line of dictionaries, appropriately titled “Cambridge Dictionaries” – though I can’t say I’ve seen them on too many bookshelves. Neither have I encountered the Chambers English Dictionary on too many occasions since my primary school got in a bulk shipment.

    “Afghan” may well be ultimately derived some centuries ago from the Pashto word ‘afghani’ – but I’m not yet aware that either TVNZ or NZPA is in the habit of publishing in Pashto.

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  21. Nomestradamus (3,326 comments) says:

    Andrei:

    … a good way to while a way a damp dreary Thursday afternoon.

    I’d hate you to miss any Wednesday appointments – better check your diary :)

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  22. jarbury (464 comments) says:

    Geez I wish it was Thursday. Stop getting our hopes up andrei.

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  23. llew (1,533 comments) says:

    Just think biscuits.

    Mmmmm… afghans.

    Years ago I somehow visited a chocolate box art exhibition. They had a tongue in cheek section labelled “racist” chocolate boxes. Afghans were there, but my favourites involved Brazil Nuts. Lots of plays on dark & white chocolates also.

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  24. scanner (340 comments) says:

    Geez this is way to out there, 22 posts to pat ourselves on the back on what literary geniuses we are.
    It starting to get like Trade Me, whats next, the age old question do wax, shave or use cream?
    Anyway what did these “Towelheads” do?

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  25. Leg Break (89 comments) says:

    I assume these Brazil nuts are smooth?

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  26. Paul G. Buchanan (294 comments) says:

    Manolo and Tripewriter:

    You are of course welcome to refer to Argentines as you please, but the formal name of the country is “La Republica Argentina,” which translates into The Argentine Republic. Ergo, the people of the Argentine Republic are generally known as “Argentines.” I do not mean to be pedantic and think Argentinian is acceptable when foreigners say it, but as someone who was raised in Argentina and who continues to work in and on that country (as well as being exposed to the resident English-speaking population), I can assure you that Argentino=Argentine in the minds and mouths of the locals. Chau.

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  27. llew (1,533 comments) says:

    I assume these Brazil nuts are smooth?

    I’m sure they would be these days, in the 80s… not so sure.

    :)

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  28. scanner (340 comments) says:

    Cream and a good polish will give you the best finish. IMHO

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  29. Fisiani (1,039 comments) says:

    Not as bad as people saying
    Pacific or Pacifically when they mean specific or specifically
    Or
    Mischeevious when they mean mischievous ((mis chi vas)

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  30. anonymouse (716 comments) says:

    This is not a new argument,

    From 2001 in Slate.com

    http://www.slate.com/id/2059190/

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  31. Fisiani (1,039 comments) says:

    Or saying Mininjococcal when they mean to say Menin GO coccal

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  32. Leg Break (89 comments) says:

    Preformance, instead of performance, is the one that gets me.

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  33. jarbury (464 comments) says:

    I still can’t find Rainbow Zend.

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  34. PeterG (21 comments) says:

    Did you hear about the little old lady who wasn’t allowed to take her knitting needles on to a plane? They were afraid she would use them to knit an Afghan…

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  35. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    To Dr Buchanan:

    You are of course welcome to refer to Argentines as you please, but the formal name of the country is “La Republica Argentina,” which translates into The Argentine Republic. Ergo, the people of the Argentine Republic are generally known as “Argentines.”

    Thank you. But I am aware of the formal name of The Argentine Republic. You appear to be correcting me, but in what way I am not sure, because, like you seem to do, I use Argentine as the noun. For example, I would say “Three hundred Argentines died in a shipping disaster in the River Plate estuary yesterday.” Argentines as people.

    Would you use ‘Argentine’ in both senses, as noun and as adjective?

    An example of how I would and have used the adjective: “RFA Sir Galahad caught fire after being bombed by Argentinian Skyhawks.” In other words the Skyhawks belonging to the Argentines.

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  36. Paul G. Buchanan (294 comments) says:

    TripeWryter:

    As I said, it is all fine by me. No correction intended. I was just pointing out the variance between local and foreign usage. BTW–I think it was Argentine Mirage aircraft that bombed the Galahad, or perhaps I am thinking of the attack on the Sheffield. Either way, good way to make your point.

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  37. Cerium (23,565 comments) says:

    To many foreigners a kiwi is a furry green fruit, some may have heard of the bird, and many don’t know what country they come from let alone know what the inhabitants are called.

    Many of the inhabitants aren’t much better – Newzillin?

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  38. Sarkozygroupie (207 comments) says:

    What about the beautiful but vainglorious afghan hounds? Do those doggies come from Afghanistan like the biscuits?

    My most reviled mix-up words are brought and bought, and practicable and practical.

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  39. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    Dr Buchanan:
    Five Skyhawks, of Grupo 3, three of which were shot down by Harriers (or Sea Harriers) over Choiseul Sound as they were escaping.
    Sheffield: An Exocet launched by a Super Etendard flying out of Rio Grande, and, from memory, flown by Lt Cdr Roberto Colombo, ARA.

    A useful book I read last year was Razor’s Edge, by Hugh Bichino.
    It’s been a pleasure exchanging with you.

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  40. noodle (151 comments) says:

    Andrei’s on to it. There isn’t much multiracial love going spare in Lynfield. But one cannot call it racism because caucasians aren’t involved in this particular spat, as far as I know, and we all know that brown/black people are not racist.

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  41. projectman (224 comments) says:

    “Would media please stop calling Afghans, Afghanis. It is like calling a European, a Euro.”

    Or like calling a New Zealander a Kiwi.

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  42. Lawrence Hakiwai (119 comments) says:

    What a strange thread…but I’ll bite.

    I hate PROSTRATE Cancer – I guess it’s the cancer you get from lying down.

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  43. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    I always get amusement from homonyms. In NZ we consider bear, bare and beer to sound the same. In Australia some of my colleagues think it enormously funny when I’m attempting to get a drink.

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  44. Paul G. Buchanan (294 comments) says:

    Thanks TripeWryter, for the good detail. I shall go find the Bichino book. As a sidebar, although I was quietly rooting for the Argentines to acquit themselves decently in the war, I also knew that an Argentine defeat would spell the end of the Galitieri junta. Talk about mixed emotions!

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  45. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    For Paul Buchanan:

    Yes, in a lot of ways the Argentines did. Their Fuerza Aerea and Armada pilots earned great admiration from the British. They flew their Skyhawks, for example with a great deal of skill, courage, and flair. Their low-level attacks on the ships, a Royal Navy chief petty officer told me some years later, were the most terrifying time of his life. He described having to fire a 12.7 machine gun downwards at aircraft approaching so low they were almost on the water.
    Lt Cdr Nigel ‘Sharky’ Ward praised Major Alberto Tomba’s courage for keeping his disintegrating Pucara in the air despite repeated hits from Ward’s Sea Harrier’s twin 30mm cannon.
    Also: in their books on the war, Martin Middlebrook and Bichino refer to not all Argentinian Army conscripts as being poor soldiers who ran at the first whiff of grape-shot, and that some Argentinian officers were very, very good.

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  46. heathcote (104 comments) says:

    How about Murray Deaker and ‘particuly”

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  47. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    hegemonic discourse…

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  48. heathcote (104 comments) says:

    And while we’re on about pronunciation, let’s talk about Taupo. This modern revisionistic ‘Toepaw’ doesn’t cut it with me. Given the Maori had no written language, the initial spelling was pretty clearly phonetic. If indeed Taupo was pronounced Toepaw surely the lexicographers would have spelt it accordingly. But no, it was pronounced Taupo so they spelt it Taupo.

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  49. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    “Would media please stop calling Afghans, Afghanis. It is like calling a European, a Euro.”

    Or like calling a New Zealander a Kiwi.

    I agree… A hegemonic discourse is one which has become so embedded in a culture that it appears silly to ask “Why?” about its assumptions. It is capable not only of determining answers, but also the questions which can be asked.

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  50. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    What annoys me a lot about our broadcasters is that they turn themselves inside-out to pronounce Maori words apparently correctly, but can’t be bothered with English words. A few weeks ago Sainsbury on Close Up had the gall to condescend to and patronise the rest of us over our Maori pronunciation and lecture us to do better.

    Yet, from his mouth come Keer for Care, Eer feers for air fares, peer for pair, and so so and so on and so on.

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  51. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    DPF – seems you’ve caused some chest beating over at Liarbores Red Alert’ Appears they’re somehow holding you responsible for what Key says;

    “David has scored an own goal for his National Party masters, by taking the media to task over their incorrect description of people from Afghanistan. As David rightly points out they are not Afghanis, they are Afghans. A small error, but an error all the same. More fundamentally perhaps, they are also not ” Afghanistanians” as Mr Key would have us believe in this interview with Radio NZ ( 7.12 story right about the 3:40 mark).”

    http://blog.labour.org.nz/index.php/2009/09/02/dpfs-own-goal/

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  52. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    TripeWryter

    Well at least you can abbreviate English language to fit the new language of Text… try abbreviating the Māori language.. you can’t.

    The English language moves and adapts with the time’s… The Māori language is and will stay in the past.

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  53. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Re RKBee at 9.16…

    Or more like calling a Kiwi a Kiwani.

    Philu must have exhaled happy gas into Kiwiblog today. This string’s a bit nutty.

    By the way, an acquaintance tells me I made a mistake with the first post in the thread:
    The correct saying, he says, is: as sweaty as an Afghan camel driver’s jock strap.

    Whatever. Afghan was the point of it.

    Why do the Aussies have such colourful slang? Here’s another one: I’m so hungry I could eat the arse of a camel driver through a cane chair.

    And another: May your chooks turn into emu’s and kick your dunny door down.

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  54. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Back to the serious stuff…

    I read on the NZ Herald site the police won’t lay charges against the kids for storming another school armed with a softball bat, threatening a teacher, and bashing a kid in front of her.

    Two standards here. Cops hound South Island boy racers and hunters with wrong grips on their rifles and let refugee thugs off with a tut-tut.

    Even-handed law and order Judith Collins/Howard Broad style.

    The link:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10594781

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  55. bananapants (102 comments) says:

    They don’t mind about the kids bashing each other because they weren’t in uniform. Like Wanganui. It’s all about what your wear.

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  56. adam2314 (377 comments) says:

    Dame Cartwright and Cerviaaaacal Cancer. It is a Cer Vix. Thus Cer vik al.

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  57. noskire (842 comments) says:

    You should be more concerned that Wahhabi activists are actively targeting Maori youth and other lost souls in Christchurch. I’ve seen former Crips and Bloods members face up weeks later in full-blown Arab garb.

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  58. adam2314 (377 comments) says:

    heathcote (49) Vote: 0 1 Says:

    September 2nd, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    ” And while we’re on about pronunciation, let’s talk about Taupo. This modern revisionistic ‘Toepaw’ doesn’t cut it with me. Given the Maori had no written language, the initial spelling was pretty clearly phonetic. If indeed Taupo was pronounced Toepaw surely the lexicographers would have spelt it accordingly. But no, it was pronounced Taupo so they spelt it Taupo. ”

    Fangaray ??.. Also surely those educated lexicographers would not have been so obtuse .. What. Where. Why. When
    Pronounced with an expellation of air ??

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  59. travisb (14 comments) says:

    You are all wrong. It’s Afghanistani. Or Afghanistanian if you are pedantic.

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  60. Komata (1,191 comments) says:

    A bit late onto this thread I’m afraid, but, in respect of appalling mis-pronunciations (which is how this thread seems to be going), has anyone else noticed (and cringed) at :’NUKULAR’ for ‘Nuclear’ (George W was renouned for that particular one) and ‘AXED’ for ‘Asked’ (as in ‘he axed me where I was going’). Maori and Pacific Islanders seem especially prone to mis-pronunciation of that particular word, although they have their own venacular anyway which Anglo’s can never hope to imitate or understand. (US TV has a LOT to answer fo’).

    Interesting topic though. . .

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  61. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Re Noskire at 11.04pm:

    The Muslims are also working the prisons for converts.

    What a soft-cock nation NZ has become to allow this.

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