Monday, March 31, 2003

What's in a Name?

When did we all change our pronunciation of the word "Qatar?"

The last time I looked, I pronounced it "catarrh." On CNN today, everyone pronounces it "cutter." I can imagine that residents of Doha are glad about this. After all, the new pronunciation evokes the image of a steel-edged scimitar instead of a wad of mucus.

Is this a British thing? On the BBC World Service - and the anglophile NPR News - I believe I've heard the news readers pronounce the word "carter."

I remember a similar instance occurred around the late 1980s. Seemingly overnight, the American pronunciation of Moscow shifted from the curt "Mos-co" to the more drawn-out "Moss-cow." An Utne Reader writer even remarked upon the change.

Who makes these decisions and why? Did I miss the memo?

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