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HomeNewsHow Do You Pronounce Qatar? In all probability Incorrectly.

How Do You Pronounce Qatar? In all probability Incorrectly.


Eventually the second will arrive for everybody, or a minimum of everybody who doesn’t converse Arabic however hopes to debate this yr’s World Cup with out sounding like a complete fool.

What occurs when conversational circumstance forces us to utter the phrase “Qatar” in public?

Is it Kuh-TAR, like guitar? Or Kuh-TAH, just like the British pronunciation of catarrh, a phlegmy sore throat? What concerning the enterprise executives who bang on about how you might be one hundred pc flawed and must be saying KUH-ter, like cutter (or gutter), or one thing that extra approximates KAT-ar?

Why does everybody on TV appear to have a unique reply? Can we belief random educational YouTube movies? Is there a technique to say it with out including “or nonetheless you pronounce it”? Why hasn’t FIFA issued a proper directive? It has been 12 years, in any case, since soccer’s governing physique began all this by awarding the game’s greatest championship to a tiny Gulf nation.

Sepp Blatter, the previous FIFA president, asserting in 2010 that “Ka-TAR” would host the 2022 World Cup.

Karim Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Photos

However whereas a four-page phonetic information created for journalists touring to Qatar does provide a level of linguistic aid — providing step-by-step pronunciations of helpful phrases like “Assist!” and “I used to be robbed” — it’s silent on the identify of the place the place you may have to say them.

Allow us to stipulate right here that the issue isn’t willful ignorance or cultural vanity, however that the Arabic pronunciation of “Qatar” — قطر in Arabic script — may be very completely different from the English one:

Taoufik Ben-Amor, senior lecturer in Arabic research at Columbia College


In the event you’re an English speaker, you’re most likely saying it incorrectly, however solely within the sense that your pronunciation of “Paris” or “Chile” could be thought-about flawed from the viewpoint of a Parisian or a Chilean.

Which signifies that the true query is: What kind of flawed is true?

“There’s no actual steerage,” stated Neil Buethe, the chief communications officer for the US Soccer Federation, whose crew has slowly trickled in to the nation with the identify the gamers want they might pronounce. “It’s undoubtedly been a debate.”

Sure, it has. On-line, a Qatari often called Mr. Q has posted a collection of movies for guests, together with one which begins, “I’ve gone forward and observed that quite a lot of foreigners are educating foreigners tips on how to pronounce Qatar.” He then reveals just a few clips of individuals saying “Qatar” in numerous painful methods on American TV and provides: “I respect you, you respect me, we’re all respecting one another proper now — however no.”

Hassan Al Thawadi leads Qatar’s organizing committee.

Ramon Van Flymen/EPA, by way of Shutterstock

Hassan Al Thawadi, the pinnacle of the Supreme Committee directing the World Cup preparations, stated in an interview that pronunciations of “Qatar” fluctuate even contained in the host nation.

Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary basic of Qatar’s World Cup group


This has not helped alleviate the final confusion amongst guests.

“Individuals have been saying ‘KUH-ter’ after we acquired there for the primary time final December,” Buethe stated of his journeys to the nation upfront of the World Cup. “However we had many conversations with people and with individuals within the federation, they usually informed us it wasn’t right: Don’t say, ‘KUH-ter.’”

Jenny Taft, a sideline reporter for Fox Sports activities, which can broadcast the World Cup in the US, stated the community had made a command determination.

Jenny Taft is reporting for Fox Sports activities from Qatar.

Bebeto Matthews/Related Press

“I don’t know who made the decision, however we’re going with Ka-TAR,” she stated in an interview. “I’m undecided why, however that was the choice made. And it’s distinctive, proper? Like, I most likely was saying KUH-ter main as much as this. However Ka-TAR is, I suppose, most likely the extra recognizable approach the nation is pronounced.”

Jenny Taft, Fox Sports activities sideline reporter


Walker Zimmerman, a defender for the U.S. crew, stated that was what he deliberate to do, too. “I say Ka-TAR,” Zimmerman stated in an interview within the fall. “I do know it’s most likely not the proper approach — KUH-ter is for many who most likely know what they’re speaking about a bit bit extra — however I’m going with Ka-TAR.”

Walker Zimmerman of the US nationwide crew is aware of he doesn’t say Qatar appropriately.

Christof Koepsel/Getty Photos

The German tv community ZDF has taken a unique strategy: Its workers have been knowledgeable by way of e mail that they have been to go together with KAT-ar. Martin Tyler, the legendary Sky Sports activities broadcaster who’s working his twelfth World Cup this yr, stated he would do the identical.

Martin Tyler, announcer for Sky Sports activities and SBS Australia


None of those idiosyncratic selections resolves the primary questions, nonetheless: What’s the precise pronunciation of the phrase? And what’s our downside?

This sign up Doha supplies no steerage on pronunciation.

Abir Sultan/EPA, by way of Shutterstock

To start with, stated Sarab Al Ani, who teaches Arabic at Yale College, the primary consonant within the phrase Qatar doesn’t actually translate right into a Okay or a Q sound. It’s truly a glottal sound, which means it emanates from the glottis, behind the throat — a muscle English audio system don’t get to train a lot.

“What’s taking place is that the very again of your tongue is flippantly and shortly touching the roof of your mouth, creating the preliminary sound,” Al Ani stated.

She recommended flattening your tongue and tilting your head barely ahead, to shorten the gap between tongue and throat. “It makes the gap as shut as doable,” she defined. “You need to push your tongue again a bit bit to create the contact with the roof of your mouth — only a light contact, one second — after which make the sound.”

The phrase Qatar has its emphasis on the primary syllable, she stated. Following that, the T is fast and explosive — “a darkish T,” she referred to as it, barely hole. To make the proper sound, it helps to un-flatten your tongue by curving it down barely. The A is pronounced quickly, and the R, Al Ani stated, is “nearer in pronunciation to a Spanish R.”

Sarab Al Ani, senior lector in Arabic at Yale College


She proceeded to show a few occasions, after which stated, encouragingly, that English audio system, even World Cup reporters, may want quite a lot of follow earlier than getting it proper.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, type of, what are we meant to do with our newly engaged glottis, and our newfound data?

The writer Mary Norris, an skilled in correct utilization who’s a former copy editor at The New Yorker, stated that international place names will be tiny little pronunciation minefields. Use the American pronunciation and also you may appear intentionally ignorant; use the native one and also you threat sounding aggressively pretentious.

She talked about the Kabul conundrum — Ka-BOOL? Or COB-ble? — and admitted that she has no unbiased details about the pronunciation of “Qatar.” “I’m positive that in American English we’re not anticipated to give you an Arabic pronunciation,” Norris stated.

She did say she had as soon as heard her physician seek advice from a rustic he referred to as “cotter” on the cellphone. “I feel he was saying ‘cutter,’” she stated, “however in a Brooklyn accent.”

If all of that is simply including to your anxious confusion, please take coronary heart from the soothing message imparted by an official on the Consulate Common of the State of Qatar in New York. The official, who requested that her identify not be used as a result of she isn’t supposed to talk to the information media, stated that daily she has to hearken to English audio system mangling the nation’s identify in a wide range of baroquely inaccurate methods.

However when you’re going with Ka-TAR, you’re fantastic, she stated. (“Cutter” is much less fantastic.) “It’s not your fault,” she went on. “Some letters in Arabic you don’t have in English, so you can’t pronounce it the identical approach we do. We all know you’re doing the perfect you may.”



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