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We are considering naming our child the Arabic name Sa'ad (سعد).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saad

The Arabic spelling has an ع which I am not sure how to spell. I have seen it spelled as Saad which has the potential to be mispronounced.

The wikipedia lists it as Sa'ad, where the apostrophe separates both syllables. I currently favor this spelling.

My question is: Is there a spelling other than Sa'ad which is more descriptive of how to pronounce the name properly?

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closed as off topic by simchona, Dusty, Daniel, Mitch, tchrist Jul 15 '12 at 2:21

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I guess it's pronounced /ˈsɑ:ˈɑ:d/ but without actually knowing the pronunciation, it's difficult to say anything at all. [Hmm: comments don't like IPA] –  Andrew Leach Jul 15 '12 at 0:19
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I disagree with the close-voters; this is not a question of naming, but of orthography (“How do I represent this pronunciation as faithfully as possible?”), which is within the scope of the site. –  Jon Purdy Jul 15 '12 at 1:57
    
"Sa'ad" would not be understood as a name in spelling, and if pronounced correctly in the Arabic fashion, no English speaker would register the uvular fricative (or what ever the 'ain' is). You won't be able to be faithful to the Arabic -and- be understood by English speakers. "Saad" is probably the closest that will be pronounceable by English speakers. Frankly, the double a, even without the "'", will be difficult for English speakers to manage to your satisfaction. –  Mitch Jul 15 '12 at 1:59
    
THe same goes for French, but I suggest you ask at French.SE for them (it may be on topic and no too local there. –  Mitch Jul 15 '12 at 2:04
    
For example, find how others have previously spelled it in English ... mybirthcare.com/favorites/M/Muslim/meaning.asp?name=Sa'ad –  GEdgar Jul 15 '12 at 2:09

1 Answer 1

An apostrophe doesn’t really make sense there. Apostrophes typically stand for elided letters (e.g., “don’t”), and occasionally for a glottal stop, which “ع” is not (it’s a pharyngeal fricative).

There is also a tendency for beginning fantasy writers to come up with names involving lots of extra apostrophes and accents to make them look more fantastical—a phenomenon which I affectionally call the Dread Apostrophe. For that reason I’m not fond of apostrophes in names.

The standard way in English of indicating that two vowels are to be pronounced separately is with diaeresis, as in the word “naïve”. Saäd looks pretty good and would be my first choice—it’s also correct in French orthography. You’d be likely to run into issues of representation in computer systems, however—English-speaking operators would probably just type Saad.

If you must use punctuation, then a hyphen is also possible: Sa-ad. However, since the name is largely unknown to English speakers, they will probably pronounce it as “sad” or “sard” (non-rhotic) no matter how you spell or punctuate it.

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I've read all the comments here, and looked at a few different websites as well, and I'm still uncertain that I've figured out how to pronounce Sa’ad. (Still, that's not saying the name shouldn't be used; I wouldn't have known how to pronounce Sade either, if her band had not acheived acclaim). –  J.R. Jul 15 '12 at 8:04
    
I redrafted the question and posted a new one at english.stackexchange.com/questions/74570/correct-spelling. It contains a youtube link which pronounces the name saad. I looked at how ä is pronounced and I think it is fairly close to what I am looking for. Can you please verify and if possibly add this answer over there too? Thanks. –  Nasir Jul 15 '12 at 9:19

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