Abu Whaa???

How do you pronounce “Abu Ghraib”? I’ve heard a few different variations. I use a long “A,” as in the word “brake.” Regardless of what is most correct, anyone who has discussed the prison abuses there has by now settled on a way to say it.
So why was the President still trying to figure it out in the middle of his nationally televised speech the other day? This may seem nit-picky, but if you think about it, it’s yet another disturbing indication of how frighteningly detatched this president seems to be.
Salon referenced the audio and if I find the URL I’ll append it later. But I heard it live, and I was amazed to hear him stumble over it. It was not an inadvertent stumble or spoonerism or using the wrong word, which can happen to anybody. The man was trying to sound it out on the fly!
How can this be the biggest issue of the last few weeks and possibly the biggest embarrassment of his administration to date, helping to drag his approval rating to an all-time low with an election looming, and the guy still hasn’t even spoken the words “Abu Ghraib” enough to feel comfortable saying it? We already know he doesn’t like to read. But doesn’t he even like to speak about the issues? You know, like with his advisors? Or hadn’t he heard the phrase hundreds of times before giving his speech? Or didn’t he at least run through the speech once and find the offending term and bother to ask someone, ‘Hey, what’s this here Ay-boo Gr.. Gray-ib thingie here?”
Is the guy really that detatched, or just really lazy, or what? I repeat for emphasis: the President of the United States of America was sounding out “Abu Ghraib” as if for the first time in a live speech to the world after everything that has happened. What reasonable explanation could there possibly be for this?






4 responses to “Abu Whaa???”

  1. xian Avatar

    I suspect someone tried to teach him the right way to say it and he was trying to remember. They should have let him just say “aboo-grabe” like any normal American would.
    I suspect it’s “hkr-ah-ib” btw but I’m no Arabic scholar.
    It does seem that the closest pronunciation for al Qaida isn’t “Al Kinda” or “Al Coyeeda” but something more like “all khah-iduh”
    Did you notice when all the journalists stopped saying Qatar like guitar and started pronouncing it more like cutter?
    If no one has said it yet, I will: George Bush is manifestly unfit to be President. His ineluctable impeachment, considering how low the threshold for that has been set, can only be staved off by a dishonorable discharge this November.

  2. Boris Khadinov Avatar
    Boris Khadinov

    Fair enough, x-man. That would explain the stumbling better. I still don’t think, and I’m sure you agree, that it’s any excuse. The President of the United States of America should be engaged enough in his activities to have had this worked out in advance of a live broadcast. Hell, it shouldn’t even be an issue. But alas, it is.
    If what you say is true – and it’s the most reasonable and sympathetic explanation I’ve heard so far – it kinda supports my point anyway. Either he or his handlers decided to make a point of saying it right. Maybe they thought it would make him sound even more engaged than the average citizen. It’s a nice idea, but in the end, the boy president botched it because he just doesn’t like doing his homework. He just couldn’t find the time to look in the mirror and say “ah-boo hkr-ah-ib” ten times over, or at the very, very absolute least, bag it and just say “ah-boo grabe” like the rest of us. The fact that he failed to do either still astounds me.

  3. xian Avatar

    I agree with you 100%
    Either way, they are failing to perform one of the basic tasks of the presidency: communication.
    It makes me sad and it’s been a sad three and a half years.

  4. islamoyankee Avatar

    Without getting too technical, it’s spelled most closely to:
    “Abu Ghu-raib.” There is a short “u” after the “gh,” a guttural sound I haven’t heard in other languages except some French dialects. The “u” gets swallowed in Iraqi dialect from what I understand, I really only work with textual Arabic. The second part is a dipthong. Ironically, the pattern in Arabic is identical to the one that forms Husayn, as in Saddam. Simple consonant substitution should have gotten him a close approximation