Dakar: Coolest Place Name On The Planet?

Oh, don’t be fooled by appearances.

The capital of Senegal, Dakar, might look like it’s pronounced dä-kär, as Merriam-Webster suggests.

But if, like me, you spend anytime listening to BBC World Service or even National Public Radio, you’ll hear it pronounced MUCH differently, and that difference, in my humble opinion, makes it one of the coolest place names on the planet.

See, any self-respecting radio journalist pronounces Dakar so that it sounds something like this (æ = “a” as in cat):


Just listen to this report on an annual Senegalese beauty contest…for sheep.

Now, Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep, does a passable job with the pronunciation, there’s a touch of the dramatic extension of the æ sound, but when you hear correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton pronounce it, you hear SO much more, putting the cool factor over the top.

At the hands of the master, the “k” in Dakar, to my ears, is pronounced more like “kh”, and the ending æh has a touch of the guttaral in it, vaguely reminding me, for some reason, of The Castle Aaaaaargh scene in Monty Python & The Holy Grail.

Anyway, check out the NPR piece to hear Dakar in action.

It’s a cute story, too.

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