How to Pronounce Iraq

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the news reporters would drone out every phonetically pronounced syllable of this foreign country.
"EYE-RACK" was the pronunciation of my childhood.

There was so much fear in every syllable, uncertainty and a definite sense that this was a place one should simply.not go.
We Americans heard our news stories with this pronunciation, this strange place where so many gave their blood.
We met the soldiers, vacant eyes filled with fear and PTSD.

I'm not here to write a commentary on war,
but I am here to write a commentary on fear.

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"You're going to A Rock?" my sarcastic friend said to me.

I had been explaining that I was on my way to Iraq, which I still couldn't quite say.
I was trying to say what Google said to say, which was "UR-AWK," since I absolutely knew that "EYE-RACK" was incorrect.
I should correctly pronounce a place you have plane tickets to, at a bare minimum.
I would later learn from some friends living closer to Iraq that Americans struggle to say the combination of Ir and Ur,
as this is a sound English does not require.

My feelings about going to this country were somewhere between elation and terror.
I had experienced a strong draw to this place for years and years... but had waited for an open door to open.
An unmistakable door had flung open in form of an invitation to photograph for an NGO in northern Iraq...
and I knew it was right and good to go.

But meanwhile, I was waging my own war on terror... a war against the fear that I had been imbued with
by news reporters who say EYE-RAQ.

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I now say, eee-raquk.

It's the closest thing that I have...

You'll find throughout the Middle East that this country is pronounced
as many ways as there are languages, which is quite a staggering number.

If you're going to say it, it won't be perfect.
Just say it, without fear.


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Month 01, 2022

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