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Iraq

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duglasbell@hotmail.co.uk
1251846.  Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:46 am Reply with quote

I've just read on the QI website that Iraq is the only country in the world that ends with a 'Q'.

This is correct, of course. But I have in my possession newspaper reports of the funeral of King George VI where two of the guests were King Faisal II of Iraq and his uncle. 'Iraq' in this case is spelt 'Irak'.

Was this spelling ever 'official'? Or was it merely lack of cultural awareness at the time?

 
Alfred E Neuman
1251862.  Sat Sep 30, 2017 10:07 am Reply with quote

Lack of cultural awareness? How does that work? We call a country by our name with our spelling in our language, itĺs got nothing to do with cultural awareness.

Is it also a lack of cultural awareness that make us spell it Iraq instead of Eraq?

 
suze
1251883.  Sat Sep 30, 2017 12:47 pm Reply with quote

Most Arabists prefer Iraq, under the convention that the letters <e> and <o> are not used in the Romanization of Arabic.

Actually, that reminds me of a thing. In Britain we usually pronounce Iran and Iraq with the <i> representing the vowel of hit. A lot of North Americans, though, say "Eye-ran" and "Eye-rak".

In fact, the proper Arabic pronunciation of Iraq is more like "ee-rock". But is "Eye-ran" in fact reasonably close to the proper Persian pronunciation of Iran? AIUI, the opening vowel of these two country names is not the same one in Arabic/Persian script.


On Douglas's question, if it was ever spelled Irak that was indeed a lack of cultural awareness; the county itself has always spelled it with a <q> to represent the Arabic letter <ق>.

The first England cricket team ever to visit Pakistan showed a similar lack of cultural awareness, and the tour blazers were emblazoned Parkistan. Some will recall that until the 70s/80s it was also usual in English to write Rumania.

 
Alfred E Neuman
1251935.  Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:04 pm Reply with quote

So why do we call Deutschland Germany then? Or any other country where it's name in English is not the same as its actual name? Is that a lack of cultural awareness?

 
AlmondFacialBar
1251937.  Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:42 pm Reply with quote

Nope, those different names for Germany have evolved based on different historical processes and encounters.

Deutschland and its Dutch and Scandinavian counterparts mean "Land where the Vernacular is spoken", because in contrast to most other persons of authority in Europe at the time Charlemagne conversed in his native Franco German dialect and that was regarded as remarkable. Germany goes back to Latin and that goes back to the ger, a short sword carried by Germanic warriors that was uniquely diagnostic of the culture and often encountered by Roman soldiers in battle. Allemagne and its variations in the Romance languages goes back to the Allemans, a tribe that settled along the Upper and Middle Rhine and would have had plenty of contact with the different populations of what is now France. The Slavic Nemec essentially means mute because then as now Germanic and Slavonic languages were utterly mutually incomprehensible and obviously the Slaves thought that remarkable about us.

In short - there are plenty of good reasons why all these different names for Germany exist and I certainly wouldn't take offense if you called it any of them. Iraq, however, is in a corner of the world where the Arabic language has dominated for well over a Millenium and so chances are it really has only the one name and we should be respectful enough to transliterate and pronounce it as accurately as possible.

That said, I'm now wondering what the names for Iraq in Farsi and Turkish are. Anyone?

:-)

AlmondFacialBar


Last edited by AlmondFacialBar on Mon Oct 02, 2017 3:07 am; edited 1 time in total

 
'yorz
1251940.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 1:15 am Reply with quote

From my brief search (with pronunciation):

Turkish: Irak

Farsi = Irak

 
GuyBarry
1251944.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 3:27 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:

On Douglas's question, if it was ever spelled Irak that was indeed a lack of cultural awareness; the county itself has always spelled it with a <q> to represent the Arabic letter <ق>.


I don't understand this comment. Iraq itself uses Arabic script, so to say "the country itself has always spelled it with a <q>" makes no sense to me. Isn't it up to other countries to decide how to transliterate it into their own alphabets? Turkish uses the Roman alphabet but doesn't include the letter "q", so they can't spell it "Iraq".

And what about German? The official spelling is Irak as far as I know, even though they do use "q" in some words. (I don't think German allows "q" without a following "u".)

@'yorz: Similarly, I don't understand your comment that the Farsi spelling is "Irak", since Farsi uses the Persian alphabet (a version of the Arabic alphabet).

 
suze
1251977.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 5:48 am Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
Iraq itself uses Arabic script, so to say "the country itself has always spelled it with a <q>" makes no sense to me. Isn't it up to other countries to decide how to transliterate it into their own alphabets?


Not really. It is up to Liechtenstein to decide how the word Liechtenstein should be rendered in Chinese, not China. If Liechtenstein has been silent on the matter then China will have to form its own opinion, but China should not decide that it knows best and overrule the form suggested from Vaduz. (Since you ask, 列支敦斯登.)

That is why, for instance, we should refer to Cote d'Ivoire rather than Ivory Coast; that country prefers its name to be rendered in French in all languages. It is also why we should not say The Ukraine; Ukraine objects to it, which is all the reason we need not to do it.

So if Iraq has informed the world that its name should be rendered in the Roman alphabet as Iraq, then so it should be. While names such as Germany and Egypt are so well known that it would be impossible to shift them, I would actually prefer it if those two countries were known in all contexts as Deutschland and Misr.

After all, if you went to live in France, I'm sure you would prefer your new neighbours to call you Guy pronounced the English way and not Ghee. Sure, you'd have to accept that they probably would call you Ghee, but it wouldn't be your choice.


GuyBarry wrote:
@'yorz: Similarly, I don't understand your comment that the Farsi spelling is "Irak", since Farsi uses the Persian alphabet (a version of the Arabic alphabet).


The Persian name for Iraq is عراق, and under the usual convention for the Romanization of Persian that transliterates as 'Iraq. (The word begins with a glottal stop, as indeed it does in Arabic.)

The Arabic name for Iran is إيران, and under the Middle Eastern convention for the Romanization of Arabic that transliterates as 'Airan.

 
GuyBarry
1251983.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 6:10 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:

Not really. It is up to Liechtenstein to decide how the word Liechtenstein should be rendered in Chinese, not China.


Really? You mean that every country in the world has to decide how its name should be spelt in every alphabet in the world? And not just alphabets - other writing systems as well, such as syllabaries and logographic systems? I've no idea how many writing systems are in use across the world but there must be hundreds. The idea that the UK might be employing civil servants to ensure the correct rendering in Devanagari script of "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" (or whatever the local translation is) does somewhat beggar belief.

Quote:
That is why, for instance, we should refer to Cote d'Ivoire rather than Ivory Coast; that country prefers its name to be rendered in French in all languages.


That's not an issue of transliteration. Nor is your other example of "(The) Ukraine".

Quote:
So if Iraq has informed the world that its name should be rendered in the Roman alphabet as Iraq, then so it should be.


So why is Germany allowed to render it as "Irak", then? And as I said above, what about languages such as Turkish that use the Roman alphabet but don't have a "q"? What are they supposed to do?

Quote:
After all, if you went to live in France, I'm sure you would prefer your new neighbours to call you Guy pronounced the English way and not Ghee. Sure, you'd have to accept that they probably would call you Ghee, but it wouldn't be your choice.


Never mind France, I get people in this country trying to give my name the French pronunciation. If I travelled to France I'd resign myself to it - that diphthong doesn't exist in French anyway.

Quote:
GuyBarry wrote:
@'yorz: Similarly, I don't understand your comment that the Farsi spelling is "Irak", since Farsi uses the Persian alphabet (a version of the Arabic alphabet).


The Persian name for Iraq is عراق, and under the usual convention for the Romanization of Persian that transliterates as 'Iraq. (The word begins with a glottal stop, as indeed it does in Arabic.)


So now I'm completely confused. What did 'yorz mean when she said the Farsi spelling was "Irak"?

 
suze
1251990.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 6:45 am Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
The idea that the UK might be employing civil servants to ensure the correct rendering in Devanagari script of "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" (or whatever the local translation is) does somewhat beggar belief.


In the particular instance, I strongly suspect that it has been done. वृहत् ब्रिटेन और उत्तरी आयरलैण्ड की संयुक्त राजशाही, it would seem. It's probably one of the jobs of the first ambassador (or in this instance High Commissioner).


Guy wrote:
And as I said above, what about languages such as Turkish that use the Roman alphabet but don't have a "q"? What are they supposed to do?


Use it anyway, since it's on their keyboards. But yes, that might be grounds for a departure from the usual principle.

English and Italian both use Iraq even though <q> must normally be followed by <u> just as it must in German. Spanish prefers Irak although both forms are to be seen, even though <k> is little used in Spanish, while Portuguese most often uses Iraque.


GuyBarry wrote:
Never mind France, I get people in this country trying to give my name the French pronunciation. If I travelled to France I'd resign myself to it - that diphthong doesn't exist in French anyway.


If you spelled it Gaille, French people would get fairly close to your preferred pronunciation. On the downside, they would probably think that it "ought" to be a girl's name.


GuyBarry wrote:
So now I'm completely confused. What did 'yorz mean when she said the Farsi spelling was "Irak"?


Her source provides different information than mine. I can't really comment beyond that.

 
Dix
1251997.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 7:46 am Reply with quote

The official Danish spelling is Irak.

There's an official body that oversees language issues and makes occasional revisions, and their official online dictionary gives no results whatsoever for Iraq but a hit for Irak:
http://sproget.dk/lookup?SearchableText=irak
I find the same in the printed version from 1991.

Our trusty encyclopaedia, also from the nineties is somewhat more user-friendly and offers a two-letter entry: Iraq: -> Irak.
The even older encyclopaedia offers me Irak Adshmi, a province in Persia, and Irak Arabi, an area of southern Mesopotamia (site of Babylon etc). It's from 1925 so of course the main entry is Persia. And bloody detailed too. :-)

 
AlmondFacialBar
1252055.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 6:08 pm Reply with quote

While we're at it, China is also an exonym, but as it goes back more than 2000 years to the first Chinese Imperial Dynasty and as yet no one in Beijing seems to be unhappy about that association we probably won't start calling it Zhōngguˇ anytime soon.

As for the Arabic q being transliterated into k in German (we also use the spellings Koran and Al-Kaeda), it's undoubtedly culturally dodgy, but as yet no one seems to have complained...

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
suze
1252057.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 6:54 pm Reply with quote

Today I learned that the name China is Sanskrit. (Unlike the names Japan and Korea, which are Chinese via Italian.)

We probably won't start saying Zhōngguˇ any time soon, although you never quite know with the PRC. The English-speaking world called the capital Peking until around 1980, and only stopped when the PRC announced that henceforth any mail addressed to Peking would be returned marked "Unable to deliver. No city of this name in the People's Republic."

Do the Indian authorities yet return mail addressed to Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras in the same way?


As for Koran, that was the usual spelling in English until about 1980 as well. I first encountered the form Qur'an on a Guyanese stamp which formed part of my "at least one stamp from every country in the world" collection, but before very many more years it had largely taken over.

 
Leith
1252058.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:05 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
After all, if you went to live in France, I'm sure you would prefer your new neighbours to call you Guy pronounced the English way and not Ghee. Sure, you'd have to accept that they probably would call you Ghee, but it wouldn't be your choice.

I imagine that preferences of that sort vary from person to person. My own name doesn't really change much when rendered in French, but when talking to people here about where I'm from, I'm quite happy to use 'Londres' and 'Edimbourg'. If anything, it would seem rather rude to insist on their native pronunciations.

The more widely travelled branches of my family have tended to adapt their names to local variants - my great-great grandfather's German name became English in the UK, and Portuguese in Brazil. I've worked with Chinese, Indian and Hungarian colleagues who've preferred to use an anglicised version of their name in the UK.

 
'yorz
1252060.  Mon Oct 02, 2017 1:21 am Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
@'yorz: Similarly, I don't understand your comment that the Farsi spelling is "Irak", since Farsi uses the Persian alphabet (a version of the Arabic alphabet).


I didn't 'comment' - I quoted from a site that gave that version. Obviously, you will have to enter 'Iraq' yourself as copying the link didn't carry on the results - it became blank again. I would have guessed Iraq myself, but not being an expert I thought giving the link to that Farsi-dictionary would be helpful.

 

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