According to the article Quran or Koran?, in 2000, AP started to use Quran instead of the more familiar Koran.
Does anybody have information as to why this happened, and why newspapers today are using Quran instead of Koran?
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
It represents a more careful transliteration:
Thus in modern transliterations of Arabic, the word will appear as "quran" (or for an even more careful transliteration, "qur'an").
There has been an increasing tendency to replace traditional English versions of foreign words, especially names, by more scholarly or official versions in the last few decades (consider "Beijing" and "Mumbai" as opposed to "Peking" and "Bombay"), though in the end I think this is a political rather than a literary trend.
Organizations that want to look sophisticated and non-nationalistic and sensitive may use a more "accurate" and "scholarly" spelling such as "quran"
In the column "Don't Mention the Jihad" (warning: the column may be offensive), right-wing commentator Mark Steyn, who is against being sophisticated, non-nationalistic, and sensitive, mocks such changes, saying
Do you find our language too insensitive? Fine. Let's make "Koran" "Quran", or better yet, "Qu'ran", or, if you prefer, "Qu'~*ran", whatever you want, the more the merrier, toss a couple of wingdings in there. In the Thirties, when Churchill was attacking the Munich Agreement, the sensitivity-check didn't automatically amend it to "München". ... Hitherto, Anglicisation of foreign place names has been an accepted custom ...
I think many people who do this are motivated by the fact that "Quran" doesn't look at all like a native English word. By implication, therefore, it might be an original "native Arab" form.
Obviously it isn't, since any relevant "native Arabs" didn't even use our alphabet, let alone our written conventions regarding the letter q. But most dictionaries will have several words starting with the letter q where it's not followed by u, and they're invariably to do with "things Arabic".
The form we're looking at here looks like an effort to allude to that "u-less q". I don't speak Arabic, so I don't know if the lack of a "pronounceable" vowel after qu may also reflect the fact that native speakers of the relevant languages don't normally enunciate much of a vowel before -ran.
But I doubt that's really a significant factor. Mostly it's just a somewhat clumsy attempt to show respect for what might have been a traditional native spelling (but in fact it's not).
EDIT: In case it's not obvious, I'm aware that 'Kaf' and 'Qaf' are distinct phonemes in Arabic. By long-standing convention, we use that latter representation, even though it "breaks the rules" for English, because there's no reasonable alternative in that particular circumstance.
I wouldn't object to Quoran (which has been used, though not so often). But I don't see why we should welcome a relatively new trend that runs counter to an otherwise strictly-observed aspect of English orthography, simply to represent a phonemic difference that doesn't actually exist for us...