How Do You Pronounce Qatar? Most likely Incorrectly.

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Eventually the second will arrive for everybody, or a minimum of everybody who doesn’t communicate Arabic however hopes to debate this 12 months’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 in regards to the enterprise executives who bang on about how you’re one hundred pc incorrect and ought to 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 tutorial YouTube movies? Is there a approach 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 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 Pictures

However whereas a four-page phonetic information created for journalists touring to Qatar does supply 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 would possibly 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 — could be very totally 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” could be thought-about incorrect from the standpoint of a Parisian or a Chilean.

Which implies that the actual query is: What kind of incorrect is true?

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

Sure, it has. On-line, a Qatari generally known as Mr. Q has posted a collection of movies for guests, together with one that begins, “I’ve gone forward and observed that a variety of foreigners are educating foreigners how one can pronounce Qatar.” He then exhibits a number of 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 top of the Supreme Committee directing the World Cup preparations, mentioned in an interview that pronunciations of “Qatar” differ 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.

“Folks have been saying ‘KUH-ter’ once we received there for the primary time final December,” Buethe mentioned of his journeys to the nation prematurely of the World Cup. “However we had many conversations with people and with individuals within the federation, they usually advised us it wasn’t appropriate: 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, mentioned the community had made a command resolution.

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 mentioned in an interview. “I’m undecided 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 means the nation is pronounced.”

Jenny Taft, Fox Sports activities sideline reporter


Walker Zimmerman, a defender for the U.S. workforce, mentioned that was what he deliberate to do, too. “I say Ka-TAR,” Zimmerman mentioned in an interview within the fall. “I do know it’s in all probability not the right means — KUH-ter is for many 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 workforce is aware of he doesn’t say Qatar accurately.

Christof Koepsel/Getty Pictures

The German tv community ZDF has taken a unique method: Its staff 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 12 months, mentioned he would do the identical.

Martin Tyler, announcer for Sky Sports activities and SBS Australia


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

This sign up Doha gives no steerage on pronunciation.

Abir Sultan/EPA, by way of Shutterstock

To start with, mentioned 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, that 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 frivolously and shortly touching the roof of your mouth, creating the preliminary sound,” Al Ani mentioned.

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

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

Sarab Al Ani, senior lector in Arabic at Yale College


She proceeded to display a few instances, after which mentioned, encouragingly, that English audio system, even World Cup reporters, would possibly want a variety of observe earlier than getting it proper.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, form 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, mentioned that overseas place names could be tiny little pronunciation minefields. Use the American pronunciation and also you might sound 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 impartial details about the pronunciation of “Qatar.” “I’m positive that in American English we’re not anticipated to give you an Arabic pronunciation,” Norris mentioned.

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 mentioned, “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 Basic of the State of Qatar in New York. The official, who requested that her identify not be used as a result of she will not be supposed to talk to the information media, mentioned that daily 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 positive, she mentioned. (“Cutter” is much less positive.) “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 means we do. We all know you’re doing one of the best you may.”

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