Is anyone else becoming annoyed at the use of the word Isis in relation to terror and violence? I know Isis is one of the official terms for the Islamists operating out of the region: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Islamic State (IS) and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). But its use in this way – and, indeed, our connivance in its use – is corrupting a perfectly good word.
Isis, as well as being an Egyptian goddess, is the beautiful and tranquil stretch of river in and around the City of Oxford. Saunter down the banks of the Isis in summer and you will see painted boats drifting with the stream, and you will see spires and blue skies reflected in the water; at other times you will see students pondering their thesis and tourists staring in happy wonder that such a place can exist and that their image of a certain type of civilised Englishness also really does exist.
Terror and violence are almost entirely absent from this Oxonian Isis. Except, perhaps, during Eights Week, or on those rare but darkly amusing occasions drunk youths in punts think it wise to negotiate river etiquette with a swan. But apart from that, it’s all peace and harmony down our way.
We are used to words of the English language being corrupted; it would be a tragedy for Isis to go the same way because of an unfortunate coincidence. Let these people have their barbaric, murderous inhumanity; let us have our Isis. The French wouldn’t stand for it so why should the British?