Three Iraqi first names: pronunciation?
February 7, 2008 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Iraqi first names Zainab, Aysha and Nour: how should I pronounce them? (For each name: how do the vowels sound [in comparison with an English word], how many syllables does the name have, and which syllable is accented?)
posted by allterrainbrain to Writing & Language (7 answers total)
I knew a Zainab who pronounced it "ZAY-nuhb." Rhymes with Dana, but with a a "b" at the end. Take it with a grain of salt, though, not everyone pronounces names the same way.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:20 PM on February 7, 2008

Best answer: Zainab (or Zaynab): two syllables, stress on the first, approximately ZAY-nab. (In South Asian use, short a is often pronounced uh, as in Metroid Baby's comment, but that doesn't hold for Arabic use.)

Aysha, more accurately A'isha: three syllables, stress on the first, approximately AH-ee-shah. Collapsing it into two syllables (EYE-shah) would be understood.

Nour, more accurately Nur (with long u): one syllable, NOOR.
posted by languagehat at 12:25 PM on February 7, 2008

I have friends with all these names and pronounce them Zaynab, Eye-sha and Noor (like 'more').
posted by essexjan at 12:25 PM on February 7, 2008

These are really Arab names, no? I mean, they are not particular to Iraq are they?
posted by Mister_A at 12:31 PM on February 7, 2008

Response by poster: I specified Iraqi in case it made a difference (the three girls in question were from Iraq).

I'm definitely looking for the way the names would be pronounced in Iraq, not an Americanized version -- thanks for clarifying that.
posted by allterrainbrain at 12:53 PM on February 7, 2008

The most obvious specifically Iraqi feature is the preservation of the th sounds that most Arabic dialects have replaced by s and z, and the pronunciation of "emphatic d" by voiced th, so that (for example) the common male name Rida is pronounced Ritha. Doesn't affect these particular names, but if you're hanging out with Iraqis it might be useful to know.
posted by languagehat at 3:49 PM on February 7, 2008

Just so the other Aishas and Zainabs out there don't go getting all mispronounced forever, I will add that the pronuncuations "bested" above are probably cool for Iraqi names, but that pronunciations of those same names can differ regionally- I know two women named Zainab (one is Afghan, one is North African) and they both say ZY-nab, rhymes with FLY-nab. And I know a Pakistani Aisha who's EYEsha.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:32 PM on February 7, 2008

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