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Jean-Marc Ayrault's Name In Arabic Creates Awkward Situation

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French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault waves as he arrives for the first weekly cabinet with new President Francois Hollande, Thursday, May 17, 2012 at the Elysee Palace in Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault waves as he arrives for the first weekly cabinet with new President Francois Hollande, Thursday, May 17, 2012 at the Elysee Palace in Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

When Francois Hollande appointed Jean-Marc Ayrault prime minister of France last Tuesday, news of the new PM's name rippled through the Arabic-speaking world.

The pronunciation of the prime minister's name, it turns out, "refers to the male sexual organ in several Arabic dialects."

In other words, slang for penis.

Prime Minister Ayrault, whose name is roughly pronounced ai-roh in French, had anchors on Arabic-speaking news stations squirming in their seats last week. According to Bloomberg, some skittish organizations tried to avoid saying or printing his name by using slightly altered transcriptions or referring to Ayrault by his first name only.

France's foreign ministry reportedly realized the unfortunate coincidence and quickly issued a statement suggesting a different transliteration in Arabic.

Ayrault is not the first to have his name desecrated abroad. The French themselves avoid calling the Russian president a whore by writing Vladimir Putin's last name as "Poutine." Quite polite, indeed.

Earlier on HuffPost:

Jean-Marc Ayrault
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