Thursday, February 8, 2007

The name game

I just noticed that Turkmenistan--you know the 'stans, here a 'stan, there a 'stan, everywhere a 'stan, 'stan--has a new President. The Moscow Times informs us that Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has taken over the ship of Turkmen state following the death of Saparmurat Niayzov, or Turkmenbashi, a few weeks ago. The latter was the man who had most days of the week, as well as most of the months of the year, named for him. He was a pistol!

These names got me to thinking about one of my favorite subjects: the strangest(relatively speaking), longest, and/or most unpronounceable names of foreign leaders. I offer as examples those two Turkmen gems. But recent Indonesian leaders Sasilo Bambang Yadhoyono and Megawati Sukamoputri are quite competitive in this category, too, and among "blasts from the past," I always cite the immortal Iosif Vissarionovich Djugashvili, better known as Stalin. Among the strange but entirely pronounceable since we know them, Robert STRANGE McNamara and Warren GAMALIEL Harding. The best-sounding strange moniker must surely be ATATURK, or Mustafa Kemal. You see his name and you just want to call out, "Atta Turks!"

Who gets your nod in the "interestingly named foreign(or even domestic) leaders" competition?


german said...

one choice of mine would be harry s. truman, since the s. is of course s. i'll also take the great national security advisor zbigniew kazimierz brzezinski quite a mouthful to me but anything that gets past 3 sylabols get hard for me much less spelling

german said...

a funny one once was jim mora sr. during a live telecast of a football game, a player by the name of Dumas was playing poorly and he wanted to call him dumb ....but had to ask for help to pronounce his name corretlyinstead of what he was thinking

moville said...

how could i have forgotten good old zbig? i think a lot of polish leaders automatically make the list because of those wild Polish names, like czartoryski from the l8th and l9th centuries. ignacy paderewski is another, and then there is tadeusz mazowecki, the former prime minister. no matter what you do, you will mangle those.
oh, and i forgot the karadjordjevici in Serbia. that's not exactly intuitive either.

SS97 said...

Can you see the President trying to pronounce any of those names :) ? The movie star Jason Lee (Mall Rats, My Name is Earl)named his son "Pilot Inspektor." Easy enough to pronounce I suppose, but definitely strange.

german said...

came up with one that i have heard pronouced 3 different ways and its an easy name i think to spell but what is the right way to pronouce it walther model. there is of course model like the think you glue together, then there is like moedl where the second e is not heard and then the one i used was moe dell which i always thought was right