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How to say: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Host Host | 13:01 UK time, Tuesday, 29 August 2006

A guide to words and names in the news from Martha Figueroa-Clark of the BBC Pronunciation Unit.

"Today's pronunciation is Iranian President Mahmoud AHMADINEJAD (sometimes also spelt AHMADINEZHAD). Our recommendation is mah-MOOD ah-mad-in-uh-ZHAAD (-h is pronounced in 'Mahmoud' and in 'Ahmadinejad') based on the advice of the BBC Persian Monitoring team."
(Click for a guide to our phonetic pronunciations (PDF).)


  • 1.
  • At 08:06 PM on 29 Aug 2006,
  • Bill H wrote:

I've always thought of him as ah-ma-dinnerlady. Much easier to remember

  • 2.
  • At 03:37 PM on 30 Aug 2006,
  • Betty M wrote:

Now you have the President's name right, please can you get newsreaders/presenters to pronounce Iran properly as well.

  • 3.
  • At 05:22 PM on 30 Aug 2006,
  • Tim Coulson wrote:

Given that most now pronounce Iran (correctly) as E-rahn why do I still hear Iranian pronounced as E-raynian? I suppose it's better than the awful American Eye-ran.

  • 4.
  • At 05:24 PM on 30 Aug 2006,
  • Andrew Armitage wrote:

If the Beeb has pronunciation experts, how come some Welsh names are often mispronounced, while the rather prissy sibilants in some Spanish names are given with such precision? I'm thinking of the sports presenters on the Today programme struggling with 'Llanelli'. It is not 'Thlanethly'. If either Gary or Steve would like me (I used to teach speech) to give him a quick lesson over the phone, he can email me. Once you know the mechanics of the mouth, its easy-peasy. Then there's 'sickth' (not by Gary or Steve, I don't think, but several reporters and presenters). The mind boggles! If you can say 'six thousand' you can say 'sixth'. Try it.

  • 5.
  • At 05:22 AM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • ali raouf wrote:

The name of the Iranian president is as it is written:mah-mood ahmadi-nezhaad.

  • 6.
  • At 06:16 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Graham wrote:

In reply to benazeer, I'd just like to say that you have produced no proof, that a) the BBC is in any way biased or b) that Iran is NOT involved in trying to develop a nuclear bomb.
Either put up or shut up.


  • 7.
  • At 03:58 PM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • wrote:

if you know the meaning of names you can spell them correctly!
mahmood,ahmad,hamid,haamed all of them are arabic names and derived from root(h-m-d) or (ha me da) as you see h,m,d are in the names,
(ha-me-da) is verb in arabic that mean's "praise".
so mahmood mean's "praiseworthy"
--hamed mean's "praiser"--
and ahmad mean's "more commendable"
and nezhad is an perisan word mean
and the meaning of the name is
"praiseworthy" who from
"more commendable" "race"

  • 8.
  • At 04:50 PM on 17 Sep 2006,
  • RezaKhan wrote:

and sometimes for short we call him ahmad-nej ... it also works.

  • 9.
  • At 03:24 PM on 18 Sep 2006,
  • Lukester wrote:

How about:
'Can I 'ave me dinner Dad?'
or 'I'm a dinner jacket?'

  • 10.
  • At 04:08 PM on 18 Sep 2006,
  • Tangent Wings wrote:

How do you say his name?

Very carefully in case:

1. There is a nuclear weapons programme and they're further along than he's letting on.


2. He's in a bit of a narky mood. (If George W Bush was trying to claim the moral high ground over me, I would be.)

More seriously, while I disagree with more than a little of what President Ahmedinazhaad says and (presumably) believes I don't accept that this should be used to demonise him or an entire nation.

Perhaps we should try to understand more about Iran and its people before coming to judgement.

  • 11.
  • At 01:30 AM on 19 Sep 2006,
  • Susan Cloud wrote:

I agree with Tangent that Ahmadinejad is in a narky mood. 2 weeks ago, I met former President Khatami (much easier to pronouce) when he came to the visit the small College in Illinois at which I work. Khatami primarily spoke about the gains in literacy, the vast increase in numbers of students in higher education and the raising of standards for faculty at Universities during his Presidency. Imagine my dismay, when just 2 days later, Ahmadinejad fired/purged the secular and Reformist faculty at the Universities. What a step back for Iran. To answer Tim, most Americans DO know how to pronounce Iran.... Shrub, aka G.W Bush, is an anomaly, not the norm.

Excellent site, added to favorites!!

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