By on September 6, 2006

222.jpgCar names are a happy hunting ground for motoscribes and headline writers. Nissan Armada? Please. Versa? Vice springs immediately to mind (and not because of any other websites I may or may not have visited recently). I'm not sure if Nissan was trying to flummox the press when they settled on Qashqai as a name for their new "cute ute," but I reckon it's a big mistake. First, naming a vehicle after an obscure ethnic tribe is a bit too me-too, what with the Toureg already twisting tongues at VW dealerships worldwide. Second, the Qashqai are a semi-nomadic, Farsi-speaking Shia Muslim tribe based in southern Iran. Nuff said? Third, it's unpronounceable. I've scoured the web, and still can't find a phonetic spelling. (Little help?) And fourth, capitalizing on a tribe's identity without paying them for the privilege ain't exactly what I'd call PC. Meanwhile, Spinelli and I kick around Mr. Mulally's appointment at Ford. Figuratively speaking. 

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17 Comments on “Precast: Nissan Qashqai, Mulally Doolally?...”

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    The subject of car names brings to mind a story that Harry Bradley told we students when he was an instructor at the Art Center College of Design. It concerned the late Bill Mitchell, who was head of GM Styling (as it was called then) in the time after the departure of Harley Earle.
    Harry Bradley had a dry wit and educated himself well beyond his degree from the Pratt Institute of Design (in New York City). At that time in GM, there were drawing boards and they were all in the open – no cubicals – so that Mr. Mitchell could walk through and literally see his designer’s thoughts – at least on design.
    According to Bradley, Mitchell came up to his board and said, “I like that! What do you call it?”
    Bradley responded with one word, “Carrion” and Mitchell walked away, mulling the word.
    Bill Mitchell had not had much formal education, something that according to Bradley, bothered the man. So he sent an underling around Bradley’s drawing board within the next few days.
    “Do you know what carrion means?” asked the underling.
    “Yes,” replied Bradley. “And I guess now you do, too.”
    It was one of many reasons Harry Bradley ended up an independent industrial designer and illustrator in Los Angeles; doing some work for various car magazines. Last time I saw something by him, was a few years back. Wonder if anyone ever built the Carrion?

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    I found the pronunciation given as “KASH-k’eye” on a web site about the nomadic tribe it’s named after.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    Dunno what it means, but it makes me hungry, sounds like something arabic that goes real good with falafel.

    And Robert… it’s Touareg. Twaaa-reg.


  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I thought it was Ter-egg.

    or Toe-rag.

  • avatar

    I’ve been pronouncing it Cash-Cow. I wonder if that’s how Nissan sees it.

  • avatar

    I thought it was Tor-egg… These need to be longer. I think it would be interesting if you got a bunch of your regular writers together and did a round table type thing.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    Nope, Twaaa-reg, Nomadic tribe. Wonder if they eat Qashqai too. Mmmm tabouleh…

  • avatar

    Excellent comments. As a professional communicator I have an “ear” for the sound of the words. I was once in a Ford-VW dealership looking at the new Passat. The sales person became somewhat insensed and quickly corrected me when I pronounced the name “Pass – it”. Guess that wouldn’t sound too good come to think of it.

  • avatar
    Jan Andersson

    Now I’m only waiting for Volvo Laplander.

  • avatar

    Uh, Janne… You’re “waiting for Volvo Laplander“?

    Your wait is over — it’s been here for decades! (Actually, it came so long ago, it’s been gone for decades! :-)

    The “Volvo Laplander” was the civilian (foreign-market) name for what I (and probably you) knew as the “Valpen” (=”Puppy”) in the Swedish Army.

    Stuff you can see on the Web: Volvo’s own history, the Wikipedia entry, and how some people call the later “TGB11” a “Laplander” too (but I think it’s supposed to refer only to the older, smaller, “Valpen”).


  • avatar
    Jan Andersson

    Sorry, should have known better! I might even have driven one of these cars a long time ago, but we always called them “puppies”.

    But wait a minute! That means that Volvo was first with this “tribal” naming trend? Or perhaps Chevrolet Nomad?

    Now I’ve got it!

    How about a special version XC90 Laplander with extra heavy wildbar, iceblue paintwork and reindeer leather seat covers? Comes with a Lappish art engraved remote control made of reindeer horn!

  • avatar

    While the companies and stupid-useless-vehicles mentioned above have been appropriately called-out for taking the names of tribes in Africa and Iran, lets not forget the great honor bestowed upon the decimated indigenous peoples of North America by having gas guzzling sh!t-barges named after them for years. Cherokee! The Great Spirit is in every bit of fake wood trim.

    (Picture that Indian on his horse on a cliff, overlooking a giant field of SUVs, with that tear in his eye…you know the commercial I’m talking about.)
    Hey, its that commercial!! —>

    Iron Eyes Cody died in 1999.

  • avatar
    Jan Andersson

    Somebody should list all tribal names since the beginning of roads to find the best left for car naming. Extinct tribes can be included, if only the old stock lived in remote places where they could have used four wheel drives, if such vehicles had been invented.

  • avatar

    Robert – Perhaps a knee jerk reaction from me, but what does the religion of the Ghashghai have to do with anything?

    More on the topic, the name Qashqai is really unfortunate:

    Firstly, I am a Farsi speaking Shia Muslim (albeit from Tehran) and I didn’t know what Qashqai meant. I just presumed it was an asian name and that perhaps the car was meant for the asian market, until I read this…

    Secondly, Qashqai (I think Ghashghai is a closer spelling) contains a letter (along with its pronounciation) that simply doesn’t exist in the Latin derived language. Gh or Q is perhaps the nearest representation of the Farsi letter ghaf. I’ve been trying to teach my Latin American wife for 7 years how to pronounce the letter with little success. And Ghashghai constains two of these!

    I don’t know phonetics, but here some tips on how to pronounce the word:

    To pronounce the gh or q try gargling some liquid. The end of your tongue needs to hit the back of your throat (your adam’s apple moves slightly up). It’s like very soft g. The first a is pronounced like the a in cat. The second a is pronounced more like the u in up. The i at the end is pronounced like ee in peel.

    It’s a stupid name for this car, especially if it is going to be marketed for Europe/America.

  • avatar

    Its Fun to Find Out!

    “This site is an ethnographic project. It is a workshop for communication of texts, images and sounds regarding the history, society and culture of the Turkic speaking Qashqai people of the Fars region of southern Iran.”

    also, click here—-> <---for Wikipedia entry on the Quashqai

  • avatar

    “…the Qashqai are a semi-nomadic, Farsi-speaking Shia Muslim tribe based in southern Iran. Nuff said?”

    Hmm. A brief web search seems to indicate the Quashqai are actually Turkic-speaking, have you heard otherwise?

    Additionally on the language tip, the “nuff said” is a sad commentary on how this country always needs something to fear.

    Here’s a TTAC scoop possibility: track down the person or people involved with coming up with the name and ask them what the hell they were thinking. you know somebody had to do SOME research to come up with the name, right? Or do they just pick names out of an infinitely large hat?

    I mean, what happened to meticulously researched names like “Camry” that are scientifically designed by robots in high-tech labs to not mean anything in any language? (1)

    Perhaps they’d say: “We thought people would like to challenge nascent prejudices against all things arab and muslim and buy this transitional vehicle with an the unpronounceable name of a nomadic tribe in Iran.”

    If Nissan doesn’t change the name before they try to market it in the US, they would be banking on Americans being sufficiently intellectually incurious to ensure the secret that the name comes from a people that are *gasp* living inside the vury center of “the axis of evil.” (Probably a safe bet.)

    If you think about it, it would be like naming a car sold during the 1950’s or ’60s after some obscure indigenous tribe in the USSR.


    Actually, apparently Camry does mean something, sort of, to 2% (2) of the world’s population:

    “The name “Camry” comes from a phonetic transcription of the Japanese word kanmuri (冠, かんむり), which means “crown,” as did the names of the Toyota Crown and Toyota Corona.”


    (2) —>

  • avatar

    I guess European car companies are ahead of the curve by naming their car using alphanumerics. At least the pronounciation of the word “TOURAEG” is more obvious than something from a language that sounds like someone trying to speak Klingon with a sore throat.

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