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 Definition People who identify with or recognise heritage from areas of the Middle East and North Africa on linguistic, cultural, ethnic or religious grounds. [d] [e]
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 Workgroup categories Anthropology, Geography and Politics [Editors asked to check categories]
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I'm not sure whether to redlink 'Arabia' or 'Arabian Peninsula'. Ro Thorpe 04:59, 15 January 2008 (CST)


Arab people a better title? John Stephenson 11:59, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

Maybe. Or possibly Arabic people. There are a lot of ethnic names (like "Kurd" or "Mongol" or "Sami" or "Inuit"), names for nationalities (like "America" or "Mexican" or "Greek" or "Russian"), religious names ("Hindu" or "Catholic" or "Muslim") that are used as both adjectives and nouns. My sense is that using such names as nouns is sometimes taken to be offensive. That's not always the case, though, as should be obvious from my lists. "Arab" is used a lot in the U.S. news, but I don't know enough if there are any connotations associated with the term for the people to whom it is applied. Unless there are such connotations, this is probably going to be an issue of standardization for the social science workgroups. --Joe Quick 15:30, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
As far as the geographic area, an al-Qaeda "franchise" is usually called "al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula." Don't know if I want to use A-Q as a reference, though. "Arabia", though, is too easy to confuse with "Saudi Arabia". Howard C. Berkowitz 17:30, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
Okay, but that doesn't really address the issue. "Arabia" is clearly a noun. The question here is whether "Arab" is better used as a noun or an adjective. --Joe Quick 00:44, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
The use of 'Arab' as an adjective is restricted to meanings close to that of a person: an Arab woman, perhaps an Arab country, but probably not an Arab landscape or mountain or house. Joe says: '"Arab" is used a lot in the U.S. news' - in the plural as a noun, or as an adjective, I'd guess ('Arab land'). 'Arabic' is even more restricted, to the language, so Arabian people, not Arabic people (or perhaps the latter means 'Arabic speakers'). And there is the complication that Arabian is not a nationality, though Saudi Arabian is, technically - though we normally say Saudi... Ro Thorpe 01:29, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

(unident) Some time ago we had an argument on here about the 9-11 article, over a sentence which began: "Nineteen Arabs, members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network, hijacked..." I always feel that the noun is very difficult to use in a non-pejorative sense, except when discussing acts of peoples centuries ago. Speakers tend to avoid labelling people as "a German", or "an Italian", because it implies that they behave in a stereotypical and extreme way. The adjectival usage avoids this. John Stephenson 14:39, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

I happened to have a searchable copy of The Arab Lands in the Ottoman Era (ed. Jane Hathaway; Minneapolis: Center for Early Modern History, U. of Minn., 2010), which is a collection of articles by about a dozen scholars who can be expected to know what current academic usage, at least, is, and who presumably would be careful not to give offense. They consistently use "Arabic" to mean the language, and otherwise use "Arab" as the adjective (as in the book's title).
More pertinently to this discussion, the four of them who actually refer to Arab people, either as individuals or as a group, all use "an Arab" or "Arabs" as nouns, rather than saying "an Arab person" or "the Arab people". One other author, who extensively discusses mutual stereotypes between Turks and Arabs, puts "Turk" and "Arab" into irony-quotes to emphasize that he is talking about the stereotype rather than about actual people of those ethnicities.
So, based on this sample, it would appear safe to use the noun "Arab(s)" when referring to people, at least in current academic usage. For other viewpoints, I wonder whether advocacy groups such as the Arab American Institute might offer advice on usage? Bruce M. Tindall 16:13, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
(One other data point -- Chicago Manual of Style uses "Arabs" (and "Jews") as examples, although not specifically in context of whether they should be used as nouns, but rather in a section on capitalization. I don't have copies of the NY Times or AP style books at hand but maybe they say something more detailed about this?) Bruce M. Tindall 16:18, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
And the Guardian's stylebook (2007 edition, seems to think "Arab" as noun is OK; their discussion centers on the definition of the noun, rather than whether it should be rendered as "Arab people" etc. Bruce M. Tindall 16:23, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
I have the 1976 version of the NYT style manual, although it was printed much later. They don't have an actual header called Arab but they do have headers (and text) for a number of similar listings, including their longest one, Arab names and titles. In paragraph three of the text, on page 16, we read, "A Moslem Arab has at least three names...." So here they are clearly using it in the sense of "Arabs used to ride camels, now they drive cars." I probably should get an up-dated version -- language usage does change. For instance, the manual says not to use "gay" for "homosexual" except when it's capitalized as the name of an organization. Today the NYT *always* uses "gay" as an adjective. Hayford Peirce 16:36, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
It sounds like scholars and academics both use "Arab" as a noun at least sometimes. I came across "Arabs" as a noun in the NYT this morning, actually.
Another consideration is standardization across articles. In this case, there is less chance for confusion between articles on Arab people and the Arabic language because slightly different terms are used. Sometimes, though, the name of a people and the name of their language are the same: Nuer, say, or Maori. We will not infrequently need to have a redirect at "X" and then separate articles called "X people" and "X language". Thus, it might be best to call this article Arab people even if Arab is acceptable, simply to maintain consistency across articles. --Joe Quick 22:32, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
First, may I ask that when this discussion reaches consensus, that someone put it in terms to submit to the EC as a draft policy?
Second, let me offer some additional academic information, starting with a non-academic report [1] but then going to a paper on "The Arab Street". Terry Regier of U.C. Berkeley and Muhammad Ali Khalidi of York University in Canada, writing in Middle East Journal [2], use "Arab" both as an adjective (more common) but also as a noun, beginning on PDF page 6. Indeed, "Arab Street" may be worth an article. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:27, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
I'll suggest a policy in a few days if noone else has anything to add here. --Joe Quick 17:37, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
Here are a couple of examples from Arab-American advocacy groups. A 2005 press release from the American Arab Forum (a group I know nothing about): "The word Arab is a name given to the ancient and present-day inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula and often applied to the peoples closely allied to them in ancestry, language, religion, and culture. Presently more than 300 million Arabs are living mainly in 22 countries." Also, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee uses "Arab(s)" as a noun in its materials designed for use by educators in teaching about stereotypes, etc. So at least some such groups seem to have no problem with using the word as a noun. Bruce M. Tindall 20:20, 3 February 2011 (UTC)