Why Iraqi Kurds are nicknaming cars after Obama and Monica Lewinsky
Since locals seem to have trouble pronouncing some of the names – whose English spelling may not mean anything in their native tongue – they pick other names, often taken from prominent public figures. (Or at least personalities who are well known in Kurdistan.) The Chrysler 300, for example, is called the Obama – probably because that's what the President drove before taking office. The Toyota Land Cruiser was once known as the Monica – as in Lewinski, who in turn jested she referred to her Prius as "Kurdistan" – but is now called Wanawsha after a local actress.
Sabaw, another Kurdish starlet, lent her name to the Toyota Corolla, which in yellow-clad taxi form is apparently called a Pikachu. The Kia Soul is known as the Potin (army boot), the old Mercedes E-Class as the Niew Dinar (dinar and a half) for its round headlights and the BMW 3 Series as the Chowbro (eyebrow) for its angular headlights. The Great Wall Deer pickup is known as the Shamal (wind) for its swift pace, and a big four-door pickup was dubbed Marzia after a full-figured local singer.
The names are apparently so pervasive that if you referred to an Obama as a Chrysler, nobody would know what you were talking about. Tracing just where these names come from, meanwhile, would be nearly impossible, but we're sure there are more than a few who'll claim responsibility for a particular handle catching on.
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