What’s so important about a silly little name?

What’s up with the “Arab” Gulf?

I checked my old geography books. Everything from the Twentieth Century tells me that:

  • the Indians have an Ocean,
  • the Arabians have a Sea,
  • and the Persians have a Gulf.

Somebody wanted to change that.   Why?

We give people names all the time.   The hardest name for me growing up was “What do you call your friends’ parents?”

In The Cosby Show, the patriarch’s son-in-law calls him “Dad”.  It’s funny to watch Bill Cosby’s character react.  It asks the question of whether this is appropriate.

The son-in-law could also call him Mr. Huxtable, or Heathcliffe.  Another option is Sir, or he could make up a nickname.  The name “Dad” reveals that Bill Cosby’s character has indeed gained a son, whether he likes it or not.

Meet Dave shows another way to address people in a strange situation.  Dave’s crew doesn’t know how to act on Earth.  They start greeting people by imitating a Saleswoman’s greeting.  “Welcome to Old Navy”.

To me, it was funny on many levels.  Sure, Eddy Murphy is great at being silly.  But it also reflects how I feel when signing an email to a stranger.

I usually mimic whatever the other person says, even if it sounds very odd to me.  If I get a Hi Vasco, I return a Hi Dave.  If I get a Dear Mr. de Sousa, I’ll reply with a Dear Mr. Ming Chang.

I feel like a robot when I sign off with “Regards” or “All the Best” and only include my first name in a business email.  Having grown up with only “Love” and “Sincerely”, all these other greetings are foreign to me.  I only mimic those around me to “fit in”.

But sometimes, I won’t mimic others to fit in.  I don’t smoke around smokers or swear around those who swear.  I won’t lie just because “everyone is doing it.”

So let’s get back to The disputed Gulf.  I won’t call it “The” Gulf. I used to live near the Texan Gulf (sorry, err, the Gulf of Mexico).  That, to me, is “The Gulf”.

And I don’t see any point in calling it the “Arab” Gulf.  Why not change the English Channel to the French Channel?  Or the Irish Sea to the Welsh Sea?  Besides, “Arabian Gulf” is too close in name to the Arabian Sea.

I’ll go with the Persians on this one.  I may have my differences with the current government of Iran*, but no one can be wrong all of the time.

Now, what do I call my father in law…?

*(“I ran, you ran, we all ran from Iran, because they were being mean.” )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *