Thursday, 30 July 2009

It’s Ahmed and not Ahmad

Correct spelling is one of my pet peeves. It is just one of those things that takes a second to rectify but can have an enormously detrimental fallout if left unchecked.

In this era of the internet, word processors and spell checks, there really is no excuse for sloppy spelling errors.

It is the written language that suffers. With written text associated with rap songs and sms invading our colloquialisms, the sanctity of the written word has been surrendered to expediency.

I guess, along with everything else in the internet era, even language has been 'democratized.' It is no longer the privileged domain of nobility and royalty, whose diaries it were that we typically used to read.

Citizen journalists are the new recorders of socials conditions and blogs are the new diaries. If Anne Frank were living today we would be reading her blog. Much like the media was relying on social networks for information during the recent unrest in Iran.

However, the same technology that has popularized informal language has seemingly put in place a self correcting mechanism too. At least as far as the use of exact spelling is concerned.

Witness the GPS system so widely to aid navigation. Modern technology adheres to the old maxim of 'garbage in, garbage out.'

Swedish tourists in Italy take note. If you write Carpi and not Capri and you adhere to the GPS as if it were Moses leading you to the Holy Land, then you will finally reach an industrial town 650 kilometres from your intended destination of Capri.

The only 'Blue Grotto' in Italy is located in the Gulf of Naples and cannot be mistaken for a factory in Carpi.

The complexity of spelling in the modern age is often amplified by the requirement to 'translate' from one script to another.

There is only correct way to spell my last name (Ahmed) using the Arabic script. The language can be Urdu, Farsi, or Arabic but the spelling is the same.

In the Latin script, several variations exist. Ahmed, Ahmad, or Ahmet are the most commonly used.

For me, misspelling (or is that mispelling?) an individual's name in a formal written interaction, say professional email or letter, is the mother of all spelling mistakes! It is tantamount to showing disrespect. It makes obvious someone's lack of interest in me and all that I am.

My name is part of my identity and is an integral part of me.

If there is one thing that I genuinely own a copyright to then that is my very own name. I have owned it since birth. It has always been Ahmed. Check my passport if you like.

Any contract in which my name is spelt AHMAD is null and void even before my pen touches the paper.


  1. Ah! An old pet peeve I remember so well! But, just for clarification, let me ask this: you do not oppose other people with the same last name (or first, for that matter), spelling it "Ahmad", do you?

    But I completely agree with you about poor spelling being one of the most aggravating things on God's green earth. Not on a par with world hunger and bad comb-overs, certainly, but right up there with the rampant use of the f-word. If you truly want to know how bad the situation is, visit any young person's Facebook page and read their Wall for an aneurysm-inducing experience. Can you imagine these people eventually entering the work-force and writing formal memorandums and contracts? One thing is certain: I will be doing my part to stop them acquiring gainful employment by rejecting any CV which dares to make a mockery of the written word.

  2. Hi Saadia,

    Thanks for your visit and taking the time to comment.

    Other people have a 'copyright' on how they spell Ahmed so if they chose to spell it Ahmad then who am I to judge? No I have no issues with people spelling their name anyway they like.

    Don't be too tough on the next generation - I am sure they will learn formal business English soon enough (or business English will just adapt to their new colloquialisms).

    Part of the beauty of language is that it is a living thing. Why is that we don't 'yahoo' the net but 'google' instead? Who knows ...

    Please keep coming back and sharing your comments.

    Kind regards,


  3. Is it AKH-med or AH-med with a strong H? In my language the kkkkhhhh and H' sound are differentiated but I don't know about arabic (maybe its the same thing to you guys?) :)

    1. In some languages like Russian they don't have 'h' and they pronounce it as 'kh' , while in English we have 'h' but we don't have 'kh' .... But in Arabic we have both letters h(ح) and kh(خ) .... And for Ahmed is it pronounce as it is.... With 'h'

  4. Hello lalala,

    Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to post a comment.

    In Urdu, there is also a differentiation between the 'kkkkhhh and the h' sound. My name is pronounced with a soft 'h' no 'kh' sound.

    Perhaps in your next comment you will identify your langauge? :)

    Best regards,


  5. Nice blog, Simple as that

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  7. come on.
    It is Ahmad. In arabic: أحمد
    بالفتحة وليست بالكسرة

    1. Hey Mr Mustafa, look at how your second name is spelt out since مُصطفى where 'م' is مضموم. If 'Moustafa' had been transliterated with Arabic letters, then it should have been transliterated as 'مُوصطفى'
      Google always checks 'أحمد' and 'محمد' as 'Ahmed' and 'Mohammed' Though I see 'محمد' can be transliterated as 'Muhammad' and 'Ahmad' since 'خالِد' ، 'قاسِم'، 'صالِح 'Khaled', 'Qasem', 'Saleh'. So, 'محمَد' ، أحمَد' should be transliterated as 'Ahmad' and 'Mohammad'
      I think there is no convention in transliterating between English and Arabic.

    2. I think why 'احمد' and 'محمد' are transliterated as 'Ahmed' and 'Mohammed' since the sound of 'a' in 'mad' in both would be pronounced as a long 'a' sound, which would be incorrect in both 'احمد' and 'محمد' in Arabic

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  10. Hi,
    It is (Ahmad) in Arabic because (م) is مفتوح. In Ottoman Empire people spell it (Ahmed) because in Turkish (م) is مكسور.