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Why French PM Jean-Marc Ayrault's name is so hard to translate

From 'erotic' to references to male genitalia, Ayrault's name is proving to be a headache for some foreign media.

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(MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Visiting French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault presented South Korean media with a novel headache on Thursday: how to transcribe his name.

The daily Chosun Ilbo, the country's widest-circulation newspaper, chose Korean script that translates to "erotic" while Yonhap news agency also used a translation that means "difficulty."

The French embassy in Seoul, which issued a statement on the arrival of the head of the French government in Korean, chose a neutral translation by omitting the letter "r."

Last year Ayrault left Arabic-language media in a similar, though slightly more embarrassing, quandary.

Translated into Arabic from the French pronunciation of his name, "Ayrault" refers in several Arabic dialects to the male sexual organ.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130725/jean-marc-ayrault-french-pm-name-translation