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July 17, 2010

“The defeats which surrendered Algiers to the Frank have been strangely and nobly avenged”
Posted by Patrick at 09:19 PM * 88 comments

Whatever you’re doing, put it aside and read this blog post about the amazing life story of Abd el-Kader, nineteenth-century Algerian emir, who led his people in resistance to the French for fifteen years, in a military effort so notable for its honor (he was at pains to treat prisoners as well as possible, and in fact turned female captives over to the care of the person he trusted most in the world, his mother) that it attracted worldwide attention—for instance, just months before his final capitulation in 1847, the founders of what became the county seat of Clayton County, Iowa named their town Elkader, creating the only municipality in the United States named after an Islamic revolutionary.

But that’s just the prologue, because ten years later, in riot-torn Damascus, the same el-Kader who had been the scourge of his homeland’s Christian invaders wound up organizing the rescue of thousands of endangered Syrian Christians, personally facing down mobs as he did so, in an effort so successful and so spectacular that the dumbfounded French awarded him the Legion of Honor, alongside a torrent of other honors from the nations of the world.

The older I get and the more I read about the nineteenth century, the more I’m impressed by the sheer prodigiousness of some of its leading figures.

Blogger Rany Jazeyerli normally blogs about the Kansas City Royals. He takes up this subject because…but that would be telling. Go, read, be amazed.

Comments on "The defeats which surrendered Algiers to the Frank have been strangely and nobly avenged":
#1 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 09:42 PM:

Wow. Amazing, beautiful, and (predictably) followed by Attack of the Trolls. Fortunately they remain the minority.

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 10:07 PM:

Persol? He's a freeze-dried leftover from the second Rowling plagiarism thread. Ignore him.

#3 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 10:30 PM:

When Patrick showed me this link, I immediately thought of Xopher's recent comment on Muslims and American assumptions about them.

#4 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 10:31 PM:

Actually, Teresa, I was talking about the commenters on Jazeyerli's blog. Mostly terrific, but a few real turds.

#5 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 10:33 PM:

Whoops. Sorry about that.

#6 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 10:38 PM:

Xopher's comment is spectacular and pertinent.

#7 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 10:44 PM:

*blush* Thank you!

#8 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 11:28 PM:

For extra credit, name two other American municipalities named for people from what is now Algeria.

#9 ::: Dan MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 11:56 PM:

I guessed St. Augustine, Florida and Hannibal, Missouri, but I think Carthage is in Tunisia now.

#10 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 12:00 AM:

Was Horatio, Arkansas named after Horatio Algiers?

#11 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 12:21 AM:

Dan MacQueen has got one but not the other. Come on, fluorosphere.

#12 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 12:43 AM:

Wow. That's an amazing story. I predict I'll be linking to it a lot.

#13 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 12:45 AM:

St. Paul, MN is named after Saul of Tarsus, but Tarsus is now in Turkey. So that's not it.

#14 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 12:57 AM:

Yep, and before it was St. Paul, it was Pig's Eye.

(I know the other Algerian one now, but only because Patrick told me.)

And that really is a beautiful post and an earth-shakingly inspiring story.

#15 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 12:58 AM:

Oh, what a wonderful story. It is a sin that I did not know it before now.

Thank you.

#16 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 01:37 AM:

If Saint Augustine is the one Dan got right, that place named after his mother must be the other.

#17 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 01:42 AM:

I knew of it, but he did a great job of stitching it together. I did a post about his post, tying it to the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, and starting it with the story about the polyglot cop (in part because I've been writing a lot of posts about the Utah List).

So thanks to one and all who brought those to my present attention.

#18 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 04:13 AM:

That is an amazing story. Kinda stunning.

#19 ::: J Meijer ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 07:27 AM:

Nice and powerful piece, thanks for linking to it.

#20 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 10:01 AM:

That's an amazing piece. Thanks, Patrick.

#21 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 10:18 AM:

There is another story about Abd el-Kader in the current Saudi Aramco World, and alas I just realized I left my hard copy in a hotel room. (It's a very beautifully produced journal and available free for the asking. Well worth getting for cultural insights into the Arab world.) Anyway, here you can see what he looked like and find out a little more about Elkader, Iowa.

#22 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 12:00 PM:

Janet, #21: How recently? When you travel as much as we do, things do occasionally get left behind (even with the Paranoia Check), and we've generally had very good luck with calling the hotel and asking if they were found and turned in by the housekeeping people. If it's been less than a couple of weeks, it can't hurt to try.

#23 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 12:46 PM:

Lee @22, I'm not that concerned to get it back, since I read through it already and had just left it on the table for my daughter. This wasn't one of the "keep forever" issues, though there was also an interesting article on tents. (And it's online.)

#24 ::: Mark Wise ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 01:02 PM:

Wow. That story cries out to be a movie.

#25 ::: Christopher Kastensmidt ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 01:31 PM:

Wow, fantastic post. Thanks for the link.

#26 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 01:47 PM:

Thanks, Patrick. That is fascinating stuff.

#27 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 03:02 PM:

You know, in over a decade of living in Iowa, I'd always assumed that Elkader was named after the no-longer-ubiquitous ruminant. I had no idea. Thanks, Patrick!

#28 ::: Brian Eisley ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 05:36 PM:

Thank you so much for linking to this. Despite my deep interest in 19th-century history, I was completely unaware of el-Kader. Somebody needs to make a movie about him, stat.

#29 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 07:42 PM:

An incredibly inspiring story. Thanks for posting this Patrick.

Janet Brennan Croft @ 21:

Thanks for mentioning the article. My copy of that issue is sitting on my desk waiting for me; I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I'll make time now.

#30 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 07:51 PM:

Abd el-Kader sounds like one of those historical figures that we all should have heard of but who somehow got left out of our schooling. Thanks for the article link.

#31 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 09:09 PM:

Just for the record, Paul Duncanson's #16 does indeed nail the answer to my question. St. Augustine (whose name adorns a town in Florida founded in 1535) and his mother St. Monica (after whom a city in California is named), both of Berber descent, were natives of Hippo, now known as Annaba in modern Algeria. It looks like a town not without charm.

#32 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 10:44 PM:

In contemporary etchings showing El Kader facing the mob in Damascus, the gentleman in traditional Algerian dress standing immediately to the left and behind the emir bears an uncanny resemblance to General Sir Harry Flashman, VC.

#33 ::: Laura Runkle ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 12:14 AM:

Kevin @27, that's because you did not have Miss Doris Ford for your fifth grade teacher, who made sure that you knew the names of all 99 counties in Iowa, and that you could name for at least ten counties the genesis of the county names and the county seat names.

"Clay County, named after Henry, Clay, Jr., a hero of the Mexican-American War. Elkader, named after an Algerian patriot who fought against French tyranny." "Black Hawk County, named after Chief Black Hawk, who waged war against being forced to move. Waterloo, named after the famous battle which ended the political career of Napoleon." Miss Ford has been dead for over thirty years, but her legacy lives on.

#34 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 02:56 AM:

James @ 32

Oh, so tempting. But I have a feeling that it cannot be one of the untold stories, because Flashman was somewhere else at the time. China, by the look of it.

#35 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 04:21 AM:

Flashman facing down a mob? Unlikely a priori, I feel...

#36 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 04:45 AM:

@35: accidentally, unwillingly, and for the very worst of motives?

#37 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 06:28 AM:

@36: @35: accidentally, unwillingly, and for the very worst of motives?

and/or: tricked into it by someone much more devious than him?

#38 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 08:29 AM:

He's a bit before the time Amelia Peabody started getting involved with that whole region, but I wouldn't be surprised if Emerson had met el-Kader at some point. He's not listed in _Amelia Peabody's Egypt_, though. (Gah -- just had a thought which I'm scared to investigate -- Flashman/Amelia crossover fanfic?? Flashy was still around up to the eve of WWI at least.)

#39 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 08:36 AM:

ajay @35: Flashman was standing behind him.

#40 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 08:37 AM:

@38--and possibly luciously female.

#41 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 01:07 PM:

In contemporary etchings showing El Kader facing the mob in Damascus, the gentleman in traditional Algerian dress standing immediately to the left and behind the emir bears an uncanny resemblance to General Sir Harry Flashman, VC.

Alas, Flashman spent the summer of 1860 fornicating with a Chinese Imperial concubine.

It's too bad el-Kader is a few years too early for Amelia Peabody--she'd have loved him.

#42 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 04:43 PM:

Totally in period though for Plantagenet Strongbow, one of the heros of Edward Whittemore's Sinai Tapestry; and he reads like a character out of Whittemore (no relation AFAICT).

#43 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 05:21 PM:

FWIW, the name is often transliterated in other ways, such as Abd al-Qadir or Abdulqadir.  Probably the pronunciation varies as much, in different flavours of Arabic.  It means “Servant of the Omnipotent” (or “the All-Powerful”);  in some Muslim societies it’s common to name a male child “Servant of [one of the ninety-nine Names of God]” *

* irrelevantly, the reason why every camel has such a supercilious expression is because – according to legend – it was into his camel’s ear alone that the Prophet whispered the hundredth Name of God.

#44 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 06:41 PM:

It occurs to me that Abd el-Kader could, in part, be one of the sources for such things as The Sheikh and The Desert Song. Yes, you get a slightly different view in such books as Beau Geste, but the desert arabs in the sequels are seen somewhat differently.

#45 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 06:56 PM:

John Stanning (43): I wonder if Abdul Qadeer Khan was named for him? If so, the second syllable migrated from the second word to the first, but stranger things have happened to names.

#46 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 07:07 PM:

John Stanning writes: "FWIW, the name is often transliterated in other ways, such as Abd al-Qadir or Abdulqadir."

Indeed. I just made a listing for a digital edition of Charles Henry Churchill's biography. In the title, he's "Abdel Kader". In the Library of Congress' subject heading, he's "Abd al-Qadir ibn Muhya al-Din, Amir of Mascara". (Actually, they add on various diacritics to that, but I've left them off for now since I wasn't sure I could get them right.)

This book, by the way, is one of the key sources for the account in the featured blogpost, and it includes some of the subject's own correspondence with Churchill.

#47 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 07:13 PM:

Wow, thanks for bringing this to our attention. I'd not heard of this before, and it was riveting.

#48 ::: Rany Jazayerli ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 07:23 PM:

Hey everyone. Just wanted to say I appreciate all the kind comments regarding my article. Abd el-Kader's story had been floating around my family since I was a child, but I had only gleaned bits and pieces here and there, and the bits that I knew seemed so fanciful as to be apocryphal (wait - the guy fought a war against the French *and* saved the Christians of Damascus?)

It was only in the last few years that I was able to learn the story in its entirely, largely thanks to John Kiser's terrific biography. It turned out to be that rare instance where the reality was even better than the stories. It was too good not to share, and I'm glad that so many people have been moved by it.

#49 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 07:53 PM:

Good to see you here, Rany. With writing chops like that, I hope you stick around!

#50 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 07:59 PM:

Even though I'm not a baseball fan, I hope you stick around too, Rany. Thanks for a great bit of history!

#51 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 09:40 PM:

Yes, wow is the word, Rany. I hope you find our little online community interesting enough to hang out here sometimes!

#52 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 02:57 AM:

Mary Aileen #45:  I wonder if Abdul Qadeer Khan was named for him?

Possible but unlikely, I'd guess.  Abd al-Qadir is quite a common name which comes up in the media for people as diverse as a cricketer and a Guantanamo detainee.

As I understand it (but I'm no great expert, and Rany can tell us better) the name is three words in Arabic, Abd (servant) al (the) Qadir (Omnipotent);  how it gets transliterated into Western script seems a matter of luck.  It’s a given name, not a given name and surname;  the Abd el Kader we’re talking about didn’t have a surname as such.  If you wanted to distinguish him from others with the same name, you gave the name of his father, as John Mark Ockerbloom says:  Abd al-Qadir ibn (son of) Muhya al-Din.  Some dignitaries, in their full or formal names, also have their father and even grandfather:  A ibn B ibn C ibn D (ibn can also appear as bin or ben).

#53 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 03:45 AM:

Oh, and just to be confusing, some Muslims’ given name is simply “Abdul”, where “Lah” is understood;  a short version of Abdullah, Abd ul-Lah, Servant of (the) God.

#54 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 03:47 AM:

Another Flashman connection: "The Sheikh and the Dustbin". (Though I've been unable to find out whether Suleiman ibn Aziz was a real person...)

#55 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 10:45 AM:

John Stanning (52): Thanks. That's very informative.

#56 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 05:41 PM:

Patrick@31: nitpick. As I understand it Augustine is called 'of Hippo' because he was bishop there; he was born at Thagaste (which, however, is also in Algeria, so the point holds).

#57 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 10:59 PM:

My wife has a piece of costume clothing she acquired some years ago - a Shriners' jacket with the curved sword and "Al-Kader Patrol" on the back. I'm assuming that this El-Kader must be the explanation for it.

(It's torn and not her size, so it's been in the sewing-projects bin long enough that I've forgotten if she found it before or after 9/11/2001, probably after. Bright red, yellow sword and trim, black lettering on the yellow parts.)

#58 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 11:33 PM:

As the granddaughter of a Shriner, I'm saddened that people think of their garments as costumes. Shriners International is still out there doing necessary work. They're not just guys in funny hats.

#59 ::: hamletta ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 02:02 AM:

I love the Shriners. Their annual paper sale is a way for me to part with more money than I should.

They do great work in pediatric medical research, and they hire the best of the best.

Smartass online magazine Suck published a paean to the Shriners back in 2000.

Let's hear it for fezzes and funny little cars!

#60 ::: AlyxL ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 02:43 AM:

There is also this song, which may need an Earworm Warning.

#61 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 04:05 AM:

TexAnne@58, I know they do great work with the hospitals, and most of the lodges in 19th-century America were mutual benevolence and public service groups in addition to whatever ceremonies they adopted. My father tells my both of my grandfathers were Masons, though he avoided that like the plague, and my college fraternity was Masonic-related. But the lodge jackets and fezzes are still costumes, just as Masonic aprons are, and at least the public image they present is that they have more fun with theirs than the Masons do.

#62 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 08:47 AM:

Bill, does the Pope wear a costume?

Arguably, yes, but I think it would be impolite to use the word for his garb.

The Shriners aren't at that extreme of the scale, but "costume" suggests a certain sort of unreality that doesn't seem appropriate. There's a feeling of acting something, rather than of being something.

And that suggests a simple linear scale doesn't fit. The Pope is deadly serious, but his regalia has an element of performance to it. It's part of the ritual.

#63 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 09:28 AM:

Dave Bell, I agree with your distinction.

Most of us wear clothes appropriate to the time and place.  One does not wear to the opera what one would wear on the beach.

Although the OED says that costume can mean
“Fashion or style of dress appropriate to any occasion or season; hence, dress considered with regard to its fashion or style; garb”
“A complete set of outer garments; in shop parlance, a woman’s gown or ‘dress’, as the chief piece of her costume.”
– in ordinary parlance the word has come to suggest, as you say, a certain sort of unreality.

I live in England and like opera (well, some operas).  Last evening I was at Glyndebourne for a performance of Don Giovanni.  Naturally I wore a dinner jacket (tuxedo).  Was I wearing a costume, acting something unreal?  Of course not;  I was being something totally normal in that time and place.  I fitted into the scene (and into the dinner jacket, at least I like to think so).

#64 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 09:33 AM:

Just realised which thread I posted in;  that was seriously off-topic.  Sorry.

#65 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 09:48 AM:

Is costume a clearly negative term to many people? It's more descriptive to me. While I, too, think of the Shriner's regalia as "costume" (I've got at least one friend who's a Shriner), along with priests and bishops and cardinals and the pope, that's just descriptive.

Is "costume" negative to people due to implications of dressing up as something you're not? Or for other reasons? (Or "not generally negative" is still an option too.)

You could call it a "uniform" instead; the relationship is something like "a uniform is a costume you're required to wear for your job", right? So the priests, at least, could certainly be move into that category. Perhaps the Shriners too if you consider it a serious enough hobby (and as TexAnne points out they do quite serious work).

Historically, costume has been a broader term, and I believe has sometimes been used as a general term to refer to an outfit. I'm pretty sure phrases like "riding costume" were common, too. Of course historical usage doesn't bind current usage.

#66 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 10:18 AM:

The costumes I see adults wearing aren't aspirational, they're mocking. If I dressed up as the Pope (in, of course, red high heels)...that wouldn't be a compliment. Seeing Shriner symbols described as a costume bothers me because Shriners have to earn them, and a non-Shriner wearing them feels, to me, like cheating. Then again, I don't even wear t-shirts from colleges I didn't attend, and I'm aware that my sense of the appropriate is slightly old-fashioned.

#67 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 10:22 AM:

I read Bill Stewart's My wife has a piece of costume clothing as meaning that *for Bill's wife* it's a costume, not that it necessarily would be for a Shriner.

#68 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 10:27 AM:

TexAnne's #66 slipped in while I was writing #67. I don't entirely disagree, but surely there can be circumstances in which dressing up as the pope, or a Shriner, is respectful, not disrespectful?

#69 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 10:28 AM:

TexAnne@66: I see adults in costumes at SF conventions that aren't all mocking. Also for Halloween parties.

There certainly is a thread of "dressing up to mock" around; it's quite common. Just not, in my experience, the only adult use. Anyway, it hasn't for me attached itself to the word "costume" solidly.

#70 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 10:41 AM:

Mary Aileen, 67/8: I'm not trying to pick on Bill's wife; it's just a general cultural thing that bothers me.

And I can't think of any time where I, a non-Catholic Christian woman, could dress up as the Pope respectfully. The Catholic Church has made it very clear that they don't think I have a right to be Pope, so if I did, it would be read as satire.

ddb, 69: I'm not talking about fandom. Fannish costumes don't tend to be based on things that exist in the real world. And the adult Halloween costumes I see (again, on American non-fans, who don't often give themselves permission to play) are firmly in line with the idea of the Feast of Fools.

#71 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 10:47 AM:

If I wear morris dance kit, and I'm not dancing or being part of the troupe, it's costume. If I am dancing, it's kit. Same person, same clothing -- different interpretation.

#72 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 11:02 AM:

TexAnne@70: I'm not sure "exist in the real world" is an important dividing line for this. People dressing up as a Time Lord aren't, mostly, mocking Time Lords (though I have also seen satirical Time Lords).

Fandom may well be somewhat different about this than the general population. Then again, we're PART of the total population, though a small part.

#73 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 11:16 AM:

I'd say "costume" definitely has overtones of "dressing as something I'm not". It didn't use to: "bathing costume", for example.

But I don't think it's necessarily disrespectful. An actor could have a Henry V costume, but it doesn't mean he's mocking Henry V when he puts it on. A re-enactor who dresses as a Civil War general, or a Hindu who decides to dress as Gandhi did in homespun and dhoti, almost certainly isn't mocking him by doing so. In the latter case, he's endorsing him.

#74 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 12:52 PM:

John, #64: Thread drift is an artform here. Your comment was on-topic for the conversation that's going on at the moment.

I find the SCA usage of "garb" to be useful in this context. The difference between garb and costume, as used by SCAers, is that garb is clothing; it's intended to stand up to regular wear, which costumes are not, but it's also different from everyday clothing. Therefore, I would have no hesitation about describing the Pope's robes as garb. I think the same could be said for the Shriner outfits.

#75 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 01:42 PM:

Lee@74: The pope is of course such an outlier that we're likely to find various fairly useful naming schemes breaking down in his vicinity. Still, I don't think of his full ceremonial regalia as designed to stand up to regular wear, or particularly suitable for it.

#76 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 01:46 PM:

I think this may be a difference between UK and US English on this matter. When Doreen Valiente's book was published, there was a picture of her captioned "The author in Witch costume."

Now Valiente was a Wiccan. She wasn't dressing up as one for a party! It was the clothing she wore for circle. She was also quite old even then (since deceased). So it could also be generational.

#77 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 03:32 PM:

I think I find the word "outfit" to be useful, in that it implies the entire set of things that one needs for the occasion, including all the little accessories. I suppose this is equated to Tom's "kit", but that's a word that, to me anyway, goes with the side of the Pond from which Morris dancing emanates--i.e., the other one than here.

(Note the prevalence of people called "outfitters", who give you all the stuff you need for some sporting or recreational activity.)

#78 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 05:13 PM:

Re the costume, garb, kit discussion:

Any you all spend time in New Orleans? Costume is a way of life in NO. It's not just for Mardi Gras.

Though what immediately became one of my top favorite moments of adult costuming, becoming if you will, garb, is the Janette character in HBO Treme's 2005 Mardi Gras episode, who dresses as a fairy for Mardi Gras. At the end she's leading a parade and turning a jalopy into a taxi, to take her home. If that isn't the distillation of New Orleans Mardi Gras right there, well!

Love, C.

#79 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 06:14 PM:

Xopher: I agree that it may be a US/UK thing. Am I right in thinking that Americans say 'costume party' where we would say 'fancy dress party'? That would clearly affect the way people see the word.

#80 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 06:20 PM:

Andrew: You are correct.

I remember reading The Little Prince, which has a bit that contrasts "Turkish costume" with "European costume", and I remember thinking that was different usage to the way I thought about the word. (This in California in the 1970s.)

#81 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 07:10 PM:

Andrew, #79: Yes. Not only does "costume party" here have strong associations to Halloween, but "fancy dress party" is one step down from "semi-formal" -- an event where men would be wearing suits and women would be wearing expensive (but not full-length) dresses.

#82 ::: Dwight Williams ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 10:15 PM:

The tale of a man for whom starships should some day be named. Thanks for passing this along.

#83 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 06:34 AM:

"fancy dress party" is one step down from "semi-formal" -- an event where men would be wearing suits and women would be wearing expensive (but not full-length) dresses.

That sounds like a usage that should be clarified as soon as possible. I wonder how many expat Brits have been terribly embarrassed by misreading their party invitations in that way?

#84 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 11:12 AM:

If I played an Episcopal priest in a play, I'd be wearing a costume. If I'd actually gone to seminary and been ordained, as was once my aspiration, I would wear the exact same outfit but it wouldn't be a costume.

#85 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 01:14 PM:

Lila #84:

At which point I'd be tempted to say "garb".

#86 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 02:52 PM:

joann: And some would say, "uniform".

The problem with "costume" is that it's not settled. It used to be, "clothing", then it became, more or less, "spcialised clothing, (e.g. bathing costume).

It's done more drifting, in different directions, in the various places English is the first language.

Which means, contextual usage can be mistaken, and personal connotation, can rankle.

I have a lot of clothing (in that it's meant to be usuable for everyday wear), which some would call costume, others might call garb. Sometimes I call it one, sometimes another. Sometimes I'll take offense at it being called costume, sometimes I won't.

The last is context dependent. The tone of the comment will determine. If I think it a dismissive, or derisive, use of the word, I'll be cranky.

#87 ::: Christian ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 04:08 PM:

@AlyxL: regarding the earworm warning song. That's just the arabian language. It serves as a very good example of the east influencing the west and vice versa.

The lead guy hear is Khaled, the King of Rai, which is modern arabian music with western influences. He sings in arabic or french. This is a concert in France with an arabian and a western orchestra in the background. If you listen to the CD a good part of the songs are in french.

One of the other singers is Rahid Taha. After seeing a Clash show in France, the guy founded his own punkband "Carte de Séjour" (which is the french equivalent of the green card), which was instrumental in bringing punk to France. One of the reasons he got into punk was the Clash's "Rock the Casbah", which he covers in arabic here.

And, by the way, you should see what happens when Khaled brings this song to the stage in, from an arabic point of view, remote regions like Zürich Switzerland. You ain't seen nothing yet, if you havn't seen a bunch of partying Algerians, Tunesiens, Syriens, and whatnot.

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