Why Iraqi Kurds Drive Cars Named After Monica Lewinsky

Illustration for article titled Why Iraqi Kurds Drive Cars Named After Monica Lewinsky

Here in America, when faced with a difficult-to-pronounce-correctly car name like "Touareg" or "Huaracan," we either spend hours painstakingly learning the correct pronunciation, or we say "screw it," instead, and just keep on saying it wrong. But Iraqi Kurds have found a better way. They just give the cars amazing new names.


Which is something America, which gave the world the Moon landings and the iPhone, should have considered way, way before.

Kurdish is a language that isn't quite, but almost entirely unlike English. Many car names are in English, however, and that makes them hard to pronounce for native Kurdish speakers, as the Wall Street Journal tells it:

"That's a Wanawsha," said Birwa Kamal, a 20-year-old car salesman, pointing to a Toyota Land Cruiser on his lot.

Foreign cars have flooded into Iraq's Kurdish north since Saddam Hussein 's fall in 2003, thanks to free trade and economic gains. But the Kurds have trouble pronouncing some of the marques.

So they use nicknames that roll more easily off the local tongue. Wanawsha is the screen name of a famous Kurdish actress and singer who is generally thought classy, like the sometimes-swanky Toyota SUV.

"People don't know what a Land Cruiser is," Mr. Kamal said, "if you don't use the nickname."

Other names for cars include the Obama (which we knows as the Chrysler 300), and the Chowbro (which we knows as the BMW 3-series). Which is genius. Lots of cars have absolutely terrible names, or will soon be bestowed with awful ones.

Here's the best one:

Since the fall of Hussein, "there have been lots of cars from Turkey, the Gulf, everywhere," said Mr. Kamal, the car dealer. "But even before Saddam fell there were lots of names."

There was the Monica, for example.

In the late 1990s, before the Land Cruiser became the Wanawsha, Kurds gave it the name made famous by Monica Lewinsky 's relationship with President Bill Clinton, said Mr. Kamal and other Kurds who remember the era.

Thank you, Kurdistan. You are a light and inspiration to all other nations.

Photo credit: Getty Images


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