What’s putz in a name?
The Arab-speaking media was in a quandary after the appointment of Jean-Marc Ayrault as France’s new prime minster on Tuesday ? about how to mention the head of the French government without causing offense.
Transcribed into Arabic from the French pronunciation of his name, “Ayrault” refers to the male sexual organ in several Arabic dialects.
The problem lasted for hours after French President Francois Hollande named the head of the Socialist bloc in parliament as his prime minister, with Arab journalists trying different possible pronunciations of his name.
Some newspapers referred to him as “Aro,” others prefixed his name with an “H,” while some chose to spell out the last two silent letters.
The conundrum was finally resolved by the French foreign ministry, which issued an official edict on subject permitting his name to be transcribed as written, and saving the blushes of many an Arabic editor.
You may recall something similar happening a few years back with Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Akbar Zib, whose name means “Biggest Dick.”
But regarding the name at hand, it isn’t the first time – and won’t be the last – that a Frenchman is referred to as a penis.
Update: Here in Israel, we have entertainment reporter Guy Pines (pronounced penis).