or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Reference Question of the Week – 4/3/11

   April 9th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Welcome to Qatar signThis was one of those questions that everyone kind of wants to ask, but no one does because it's a little embarrassing. So when the question does arise, everyone within earshot listens.

At the desk one day, the topic of how to pronounce the name of the country Qatar came up. No one knew for sure, we'd all heard multiple pronunciations, and the more we talked about it, the more people got involved.

If you search online, there are lots of pronunciation suggestions - most of which are different. Oddly, the State Department's Qatar page doesn't have a pronunciation guide, neither does the Qatar Embassy or Qatar Tourism websites - but the CIA World Factbook does (under the Government section).

Probably the most helpful thing are the audio pronunciation guides, which I found at Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and NPR (although the radio transcript itself is just humorous). Also, I found an interesting video breakdown of the parts of the word itself - I don't speak Arabic, so I don't know if this guy is right, but it seems like he's as right as the rest of these sources:

Of course, that means that Freddie Washington's pronunciation might also be the best guide:

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