Ever Classy, Obama Visits With Aung San Suu Kyi and Mispronounces Her Name

Over and over

During his stop in Burma earlier today, President Obama repeatedly mispronounced the name of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate and former political prisoner who has led the struggle for a free and democratic Burma.

As Obama stood next to the world’s most recognized democracy icon, he mispronounced her name repeatedly.

Ever gracious, Suu Kyi did not correct her American guest for calling her Aung YAN Suu Kyi multiple times during his statement to reporters after their meeting.

Proper pronunciation for the Nobel laureate’s name is Ahng Sahn Soo Chee.

What’s more, Obama also botched the name of his official host, Burma’s reformist new president, Thein Sein.

As the two addressed the media, Obama called his counterpart “President Sein,” an awkward, slightly affectionate reference that would make most Burmese cringe.

Note to presidential advisers: For future rounds of diplomacy, the president of Myanmar is President Thein Sein – on first and second reference.

Such diplomatic faux pas by George W. Bush would no doubt have sparked peals of outrage and ridicule back home.

He also referred to the country as Myanmar, not Burma. What a dope.

- Aggie


  1. Buck O'Fama said,

    November 19, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

    Did he take the intercontinental railroad over to Australia? Just asking, sometimes doing that can lead to jet lag.

  2. Bloodthirsty Liberal said,

    November 19, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

    Probably. And the truth is, we wouldn’t care so much if the media hadn’t been so vicious about George Bush.

    - Aggie

  3. Jungle Trader said,

    November 19, 2012 @ 9:45 pm

    Mention “Burma” to half the under-30 crowd in Asia and they would look at you with a blank stare.

    Mention “Myanmar” to them and they would know more than a few facts about the country.

    If Americans want to pivot toward Asia, they need to learn how to communicate with Asians.

    Most business people in Asia (including Americans) say “Myanmar.” Saying “Burma” in a Hong Kong or Singapore business meeting would make you look provincial to some and stupid to others.

    Personally, I always thought the whole Burma-Myanmar issue was silly. I am a libertarian Republican. But I only say “Burma” when I talk to U.S. or British government officials.

  4. Bloodthirsty Liberal said,

    November 20, 2012 @ 7:01 am

    Well, if the Burmese don’t care, I guess we shouldn’t either. I once asked someone who knows the country about this. Was Myanmar a loaded name, championed by the junta, loathed by the freedom-yearning masses. He didn’t particularly think so. I rejected Myanmar not because I don’t know how to talk to Asians, but for the same reason I reject North Korea’s official name (Democratic? People’s? Republic?). But if the Burmese don’t care if they are Myanmarian, I guess I won’t either.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Comment