Isis: Egyptian Goddess or terrorist organization?


Of course, it’s both.

Isis is the name of the ancient Egyptian goddess but it’s also one of the acronyms of the jihadist extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Isis was originally the goddess of women, health, wisdom and marriage, and the name is an ancient Greek word that comes from the ancient Egyptian term for “throne”.

Isis is still venerated by some Pagan people.

Islamic_State_(IS)_insurgents,_Anbar_Province,_IraqIn the wake of the terror attacks in Paris by ISIS, different usages of the word are being tarnished by the horrors committed in the name of the terrorist group.

A quick internet search shows that it is a name for many unrelated companies, such as Isis wigs, Isis Pharmaceuticals (who are thinking of changing their name), and the administrative system known as Integrated Student Information System (ISIS) that is used in many universities.

Isis is also the name of a metaphysical bookstore in Denver, CO, which was recently vandalized because it shares its name with the terrorist group.

In the U.S. alone, there are more than 270 products or business names that use the name Isis.

Facebook recently suspended the account of Isis Anchalee, which is her real name, no relation to ISIS. The removal was quickly reversed and an apology made.

To the public right now, and search engines, the most salient meaning of Isis is the name of a terrorist group because of the media coverage of the word. Isis, it all of its forms, has undergone pejoration. This means that it has developed negative connotations.

We’ve looked at this phenomenon before in this article, in the case where a teacher was fired from his job for writing a post about homophones, a word that bears a phonemic similarity to the word “homosexual”.

1982ayds2At this stage, it’s hard to tell if Isis will ultimately suffer the same fate as the words ass as in”donkey”, cock as in “rooster”, snigger for its similarity to nigger, and Ayds, the former brand name of an appetite suppressant candy.

Isis has a long history of being associated with the Egyptian Goddess.

Furthermore, ISIS is the not the name the group itself uses.

The Arabic acronym for the group is Daesh or Da’ish (al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham), which is the equivalent of “ISIL”. Members of the terrorist group loathe the English-language name ISIS and have threatened to cut out the tongues of those who use it.

These factors may ultimately be the saving grace of Isis.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Karen Stollznow

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Stollznow is a linguist with a background in history and anthropology, and is the author of the best-selling book God Bless America. Her other titles include Hits & Mrs., Language Myths, Mysteries and Magic and Haunting America. Her forthcoming books include Missed Conceptions and Not What The Doctor Ordered.

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