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Monday, June 06, 2005
The tiny Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar was vital to the U.S. military's plans in Gulf War II. What is the correct pronunciation of Qatar?

The most accurate English estimate is something halfway between cutter and gutter. It's not "KUH-tar",the pronunciation that for a while became the standard among TV newscasters.

The Arabic language -- particualry the colloquial sounds common in the Arabian Peninsula -- features several with the initial consonant Qatar. The q majes for hard "k" sound, but one with its origins deep within the throat -- a poor English equivalent is the c in cough. The word's first vowel sound is similar to "aw", as in "Aw, shucks!" but not nearly as heavy on the "w". The middle t is perhaps the trickiest part. It is known as a velarized consonant, which means the back of the tongue must be pressed againts the mouth's roof to achieve the requisite effect. The result is somewhat similar to the "tt" in butter but a lot more guttural. Native English speakers must train very hard to learn this trick, as our impulse when making a "t" sound is to puch up the tongue's tip, rather than its aft section.

The terminal ar is nearly overpowered by this strong velarized consonant. If anything, it is supposed to sound like a little marble escaping in the epiglottis.

(abstracted from the Book "The Explainer" by the writers of Slate Magazine)
posted by infraternam meam @ 12:56 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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