How Do You Pronounce Qatar? Probably Incorrectly.



Eventually the second will arrive for everybody, or a minimum of everybody who doesn’t communicate 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 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 special reply? Can we belief random educational YouTube movies? Is there a strategy 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, saying 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 reduction — providing step-by-step pronunciations of helpful phrases like “Assist!” and “I used to be robbed” — it’s silent on the title of the place the place you would possibly have to say them.

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

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


In case 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 of incorrect from the standpoint of a Parisian or a Chilean.

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

“There’s no actual steerage,” stated Neil Buethe, the chief communications officer for the USA Soccer Federation, whose workforce has slowly trickled in to the nation with the title the gamers want they may 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 which begins, “I’ve gone forward and observed that numerous foreigners are instructing foreigners the way to pronounce Qatar.” He then reveals a number of clips of individuals saying “Qatar” in varied 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, through 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 common of Qatar’s World Cup group


This has not helped alleviate the final confusion amongst guests.

“Folks 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 instructed us it wasn’t appropriate: Don’t say, ‘KUH-ter.’”

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

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 manner the nation is pronounced.”

Jenny Taft, Fox Sports activities sideline reporter


Walker Zimmerman, a defender for the U.S. workforce, 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 right manner — 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 workforce is aware of he doesn’t say Qatar accurately.

Christof Koepsel/Getty Photos

The German tv community ZDF has taken a special method: Its workers had been knowledgeable through electronic mail that they had 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 principle questions, nonetheless: What’s the precise pronunciation of the phrase? And what’s our downside?

This check in Doha offers no steerage on pronunciation.

Abir Sultan/EPA, through 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 truly a glottal sound, that means it emanates from the glottis, at the back of the throat — a muscle English audio system don’t get to train a lot.

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

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 attainable,” she defined. “It’s a must 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 right 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 display a few occasions, after which stated, encouragingly, that English audio system, even World Cup reporters, would possibly want numerous 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 writer Mary Norris, an professional 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 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 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 title not be used as a result of she just isn’t supposed to talk to the information media, stated that on daily basis she has to hearken to English audio system mangling the nation’s title in a wide range of baroquely inaccurate methods.

However should you’re going with Ka-TAR, you’re high quality, she stated. (“Cutter” is much less high quality.) “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 manner we do. We all know you’re doing the perfect you possibly can.”

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