Someone asked me, after reading my essay on truth, guts and jihad, why I wrote Moslem instead of Muslim. The answer is simple: I don’t like being expected to change the spelling of words every decade or two.
Until recent years, Moslem was the preferred spelling and the one I learned as a boy. It, in turn, had replaced the early 20th-century spelling, Musselman. I don’t really care which one people want to use, but I’m tired of being expected to change the way I spell words at the whim of . . . I’m not sure who.
Other words that have changed spelling in my lifetime are Beijing (formerly Peking, formerly Peipin, formerly Peking. Yep.), Mumbai (formerly Bombay), and that dead Libyan dictator (Khaddafi/Gaddafi/Qaddafi/etc.).
Some might say we should let the Chinese tell us how to spell Peking and the Indians how to spell Bombay. But, really, why should we? Why should we let citizens of foreign countries speaking foreign languages dictate how we spell words in our own, native English language?
For that reason if no other, I’ll continue to write Peking, Bombay, and Moslem any time I’m able. Most of the time, of course, I won’t be able when I write for the Manchester Times, as we follow the Associated Press style guide. In years past, AP approved of Moslem, Peking, and Bombay. No more.
I am sports writer for the Manchester Times and preacher and elder for the Church of Christ at Fredonia. The opinions expressed here, however, are entirely my own.