Middle East

More Than One Way To Pronounce Qatar

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When FIFA awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, it set off debates about infrastructure, press freedom, bid rigging ... and pronunciation. How do you say "Qatar" anyway?

GUY RAZ, host:

Yesterday, Russia and Qatar were picked to host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022, respectively. Americans can agree on how to pronounce one of those names, but as NPR's Mike Pesca reports, the name of the small peninsula jutting into the Persian Gulf has been giving some of us trouble

Mr. SEPP BLATTER (President, FIFA): The winner to organize the 2022 FIFA World Cup is Qatar.

(Soundbite of cheering)

MIKE PESCA: So that settles it. Take Sepp Blatter's word, the winner is Qatar. Qatar will get the World Cup. Oh, wonderful. Maybe the Swiss-born head of FIFA isn't the best guide to pronunciation. But who is? Different news organizations pronounce the name differently. Even the same news organization like this one has been less than consistent.

ROBERT SIEGEL: The Persian Gulf nation of Qatar.

Unidentified Woman #1: Qatar.

Unidentified Man #1: In Qatar.

Unidentified Woman #2: Qatar.

Unidentified Man #2: Qatar.

Unidentified Man #3: In Qatar yesterday.

(Soundbite of TV show "Welcome Back, Kotter")

Mr. RON PALILLO (Actor): (as Arnold Horshack) It's hot in there, Mr. Kotter.

PESCA: Even experts with more field experience than Horshack can't agree. Merriam-Webster online says...

Unidentified Woman #3: Qatar.

PESCA: While the American Heritage Dictionary says...

Unidentified Woman #4: Qatar.

PESCA: And let's not even get into the British English dictionaries.

Unidentified Man #4: Qatar or Qatar.

PESCA: For the record, the NPR person who came closest to the most authentic pronunciation was Neal Conan, who has spent some time in the Middle East.


PESCA: But officially they want me to say it's sort of like guitar. We called the embassy, they said, Qatar is fine, everyone pronounces it that way anyway. Well, maybe not everyone.

Mike Pesca, NPR News.

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