(Thanks to Eman for bring this topic up)

I am an Arab- I was born in Amman, Jordan.

Both my parents are Arab- my father was born in Nablus, Palestine, and my mother was born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. My grandparents are also Arab- my maternal grandparents were born in ToulKarem, Palestine, my paternal grandfather was born in Nablus, Palestine, and my paternal grandmother was born in Beirut, Lebanon. My paternal and maternal family ancestry can be traced back to the Arab world to way before “the new world” was ever discovered, way before Arabs embraced organized religion, and way before the rest of the world emerged from the Dark Ages.

“Arab” is my identity, my culture, my heritage.

The first written attestation of the ethnonym “Arab” occurs in an Assyrian inscription of 853 BC referring to various desert-dwelling tribes in the Syrian Desert and Arabia [Source: Wikipedia]. The literal translation of the world Arab according to Al-Monjid [Arabic dictionary written in 1908 by Father Louis Malouf]: Arab, from “Iraby” meaning “he who lives in the desert”. The Arab civilization brought together Muslims, Christians and Jews. It unified Arabians, Africans, Berbers, Egyptians, and the descendants of the Phoenicians, Canaanites, and many other people.

I am extremely offended at the entry defining “Arab” in Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Collegiate Thesaurus (3rd Edition):

Entry Word: arab
Function: noun
Text: 1
Synonyms VAGABOND, clochard, drifter, floater, hobo, roadster, street arab, tramp, vag, vagrant
|| 2
Synonyms PEDDLER, ||duffer, hawker, higgler, huckster, monger, mongerer, outcrier, packman, vendor

[Source: Unabridged Merriam-Webster Thesaurus(you will need to subscribe, but an even more offending entry is available in Roget’s New Millenniumâ„¢ Thesaurus, First Edition)]

Tramp? Hobo? Is that what defines who I am? I, whose family has been settled in the Arab world for millennia?

How do the Americans(“resident of America of European descent” first recorded 1765[source]) who wrote these dictionaries justify assigning such an ancient identity with the word “tramp”?

Yes, I am offended, and like Eman, I will start to look up the definition of my identity before I buy a dictionary.

If you are offended too, shout it out in whichever medium you have access to, including blogging. One of the things Americans have taught me is to speak out.

(leave a comment with a permalink if you have a post about this too)