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How do you pronounce Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?

This combination of undated photos shows brothers Tamerlan

This combination of undated photos shows brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The FBI says the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during a getaway attempt in a long night of violence on April 19, 2013. (Credit: AP)

By now, the names Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev are commonplace, but can you pronounce them?

We reached out to Brian Glyn Williams, professor of Islamic history at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, who has become a prime source of information on Chechen history and who served as a source of information for a paper Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wrote on the subject three years ago.

Williams, responding via email, offered some insight on the Chechen names, all rendered from the Cyrillic alphabet, he said:

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev -- (pronounced Joe-HARR tsar-NAH-yev)
Dzhokhar was also the name of the famous leader of the Chechen resistance to Russia from 1991 until his death in 1995, he said, “[Dzhokhar Tsarnaev] had to have known the importance of his name.” Tsarnaev comes from the word tsar, or czar, meaning emperor.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev — (pronounced Ta-MER-lan tsar-NAH-yev)
Williams said Tamerlan may refer to the legendary 14th century Turko Mongol warlord who ruled Central Asia.

Chechnya — (pronounced Chech-NYA)
The emphasis is on the second syllable.

Chechen — (pronounced CHECH-chen)
People from Chechnya are called Chechens, Williams said, often mistaken with “Chechnyans.” The emphasis is on the first syllable.

Russian origins:
In the Russian language, women add an ‘a’ a the end of their last names, Williams said. While Chechens are not Russians, they follow that rule, hence Zubeidat and Maret Tsarnaeva, identified as the suspects’ mother and aunt, respectively.

Need more help? Slate published audio clips of someone familiar with the language speaking some of the names of relevant people and cities.
 

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