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HomeNewsHow Do You Pronounce Qatar? Most likely Incorrectly.

How Do You Pronounce Qatar? Most likely Incorrectly.


In the end the second will arrive for everybody, or at the very least 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 mistaken 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 distinct reply? Can we belief random tutorial YouTube movies? Is there a strategy to say it with out including “or nevertheless 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 largest 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 Photographs

However whereas a four-page phonetic information created for journalists touring to Qatar does provide a level of linguistic reduction — 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 must 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


Should you’re an English speaker, you’re in all probability saying it incorrectly, however solely within the sense that your pronunciation of “Paris” or “Chile” can be thought-about mistaken from the perspective of a Parisian or a Chilean.

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

“There’s no actual steering,” stated Neil Buethe, the chief communications officer for the USA Soccer Federation, whose group 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 referred to as Mr. Q has posted a sequence of movies for guests, together with one which begins, “I’ve gone forward and observed that quite a lot of foreigners are educating foreigners find out 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” range even contained in the host nation.

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


This has not helped alleviate the overall confusion amongst guests.

“Individuals had 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, and so they advised us it wasn’t right: Don’t say, ‘KUH-ter.’”

Jenny Taft, a sideline reporter for Fox Sports activities, which is able to broadcast the World Cup in the USA, 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 unsure why, however that was the choice made. And it’s distinctive, proper? Like, I in all probability was saying KUH-ter main as much as this. However Ka-TAR is, I assume, in all probability the extra recognizable approach the nation is pronounced.”

Jenny Taft, Fox Sports activities sideline reporter


Walker Zimmerman, a defender for the U.S. group, 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 in all probability not the proper approach — KUH-ter is for individuals who in all probability know what they’re speaking about slightly bit extra — however I’m going with Ka-TAR.”

Walker Zimmerman of the USA nationwide group is aware of he doesn’t say Qatar appropriately.

Christof Koepsel/Getty Photographs

The German tv community ZDF has taken a distinct strategy: Its staff had been knowledgeable by way of electronic mail that they had been to go along 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 choices resolves the principle questions, nevertheless: What’s the precise pronunciation of the phrase? And what’s our drawback?

This register Doha supplies no steering 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 Ok or a Q sound. It’s really 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 evenly and rapidly touching the roof of your mouth, creating the preliminary sound,” Al Ani stated.

She prompt flattening your tongue and tilting your head barely ahead, to shorten the space between tongue and throat. “It makes the space as shut as attainable,” she defined. “You need to push your tongue again slightly 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 observe 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 information?

The creator Mary Norris, an knowledgeable in correct utilization who’s a former copy editor at The New Yorker, stated that overseas place names will be tiny little pronunciation minefields. Use the American pronunciation and also you might sound intentionally ignorant; use the native one and also you danger sounding aggressively pretentious.

She talked about the Kabul conundrum — Ka-BOOL? Or COB-ble? — and admitted that she has no impartial details about the pronunciation of “Qatar.” “I’m certain 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 check with a rustic he referred to as “cotter” on the telephone. “I believe 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 Normal of the State of Qatar in New York. The official, who requested that her identify not be used as a result of she just isn’t supposed to talk to the information media, stated that every single day she has to hearken to English audio system mangling the nation’s identify in quite a lot of baroquely inaccurate methods.

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



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