I thought I had this figured out. Here's what I was thinking: In Arabic the consonant (glottal stop) that carries the sound /i/ in "ibn," is the "hamzatul wasl," which is not etymologically original to the word. It disappears when preceded by a vowel. You can see the hamza disappear in another famous Arabic name, wherein "Abdu al-Jabbar" (Servant of the Almighty) becomes "Abdu-l-Jabbar." In the instance of OBL, the expected "Osama Ibn" becomes "Osama Bn," which by the additional process of anaptyxis (i.e., insertion of a helping vowel; see previous post on The Joys of Anaptyxis) becomes "Osama Bin." Ta-da!
But then I read here:
In colloquial Arabic in the Persian Gulf, the word meaning “son of” is pronounced “bin,” not “ibn,” when it refers to a family name. Hence, the popular Romanization conveys the pronunciation “bin,” and not “ibn.”All right, that makes sense. The Arabic vernaculars are often pretty different from the Standard Arabic that I was semi-educated in, so I have to accept this. Still, wouldn't the Evil One wish to be known by a Standard or Hocharabisch name, and not by a colloquial form? Or do the colloquial and standard simply merge in this case?
At this point we reach an abrupt end of my Arabic knowledge. If any of my readers can give me an authoritative opinion, I would be very grateful: Who put the Bin in Osama Bin Laden? (My wife told me, "Honey, I can't imagine anyone being interested in this." C'mon, folks, prove her wrong!)