When was appointed prime minister of France last Tuesday, the Arabic-speaking world media was in disarray. It turns out that the pronunciation of the prime minister’s name, is a slang that “refers to the male sexual organ in several Arabic dialects.” In other words slang for penis.
Prime Minister Ayrault, whose name is roughly pronounced ai-roh in French, had anchors on Arabic-speaking news stations squirming in their seats last week. According to Bloomberg, some skittish organizations tried to avoid saying or printing his name by using slightly altered transcriptions or referring to Ayrault by his first name only. Just imagine the situation of a TV Anchor announcing a meeting between some monarch and Mr. Ayrault!!
Ayrault is not the first to have his name desecrated abroad. The French themselves avoid calling the Russian president a whore by writing Vladimir Putin‘s last name as “Poutine.” Quite polite, indeed.
It is not even a first for the Middle East. One Pakistani ambassador had the same debacle with his name. Despite having served for years as a distinguished Pakistani diplomat, Akbar Zeb reportedly cannot receive accreditation as Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The reason, apparently, has nothing to do with his credentials, and everything to do with his name — which, in Arabic,translates to “biggest dick”