WORLD CUP 2022
Eventually 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 100% unsuitable 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 special reply? Can we belief random educational 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.
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 aid — 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 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
If you happen to’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 unsuitable from the standpoint of a Parisian or a Chilean.
Which implies that the actual query is: What kind of unsuitable is correct?
“There’s no actual steering,” mentioned Neil Buethe, the chief communications officer for america Soccer Federation, whose staff has slowly trickled in to the nation with the title the gamers want they may pronounce. “It’s undoubtedly been a debate.”
Sure, it has. On-line, a Qatari referred to as Mr. Q has posted a collection of movies for guests, together with one which begins, “I’ve gone forward and seen that a variety of foreigners are educating foreigners methods to pronounce Qatar.” He then exhibits 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.”
Ramon Van Flymen/EPA, by way of Shutterstock
Hassan Al Thawadi, the pinnacle of the Supreme Committee directing the World Cup preparations, mentioned 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.
“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 folks within the federation, and so they instructed 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 america, mentioned the community had made a command choice.
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 method the nation is pronounced.”
Jenny Taft, Fox Sports activities sideline reporter
Walker Zimmerman, a defender for the U.S. staff, 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 method — KUH-ter is for many who in all probability know what they’re speaking about somewhat bit extra — however I’m going with Ka-TAR.”
Christof Koepsel/Getty Pictures
The German tv community ZDF has taken a special strategy: Its workers have been knowledgeable by way of electronic 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, mentioned he would do the identical.
Martin Tyler, announcer for Sky Sports activities and SBS Australia
None of those idiosyncratic selections resolves the principle questions, nevertheless: What’s the precise pronunciation of the phrase? And what’s our downside?
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 truly a glottal sound, which 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 frivolously and shortly touching the roof of your mouth, creating the preliminary sound,” Al Ani mentioned.
She urged flattening your tongue and tilting your head barely ahead, to shorten the gap between tongue and throat. “It makes the gap as shut as attainable,” she defined. “You must push your tongue again somewhat 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 mentioned. Following that, the T is fast and explosive — “a darkish T,” she known 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 show a few occasions, 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 danger 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 provide you with an Arabic pronunciation,” Norris mentioned.
She did say she had as soon as heard her physician check with a rustic he known as “cotter” on the telephone. “I feel 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 Common of the State of Qatar in New York. The official, who requested that her title not be used as a result of she isn’t supposed to talk to the information media, mentioned that each day she has to take heed to English audio system mangling the nation’s title in quite a lot of baroquely inaccurate methods.
However in the event you’re going with Ka-TAR, you’re wonderful, she mentioned. (“Cutter” is much less wonderful.) “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 method we do. We all know you’re doing the most effective you’ll be able to.”