Until yesterday, I didn’t know that Sana‘a’ was the capital of Yemen. Truth be told, I didn’t actually know where Yemen was (it’s next to Saudi Arabia, across the Red Sea from Eritrea). But I’ve been reading a lot about Sana‘a’ this week, and while I’ve been intrigued with tales of fresh mango juice, I’ve been most interested in the punctuation issues involved. The name of the capital of Yemen, in Arabic, looks like this:

Sanaa in Arabic

There are many approaches to the Romanization of Arabic.

Looking at each of the letters in the Arabic word using the BATR Character Mappings, for example, you get (from right to left): SnEaa.

The name of the capital ends up in English in a variety of ways; I prefer Sana‘a’ simply for its typographic symmetry.

Yemen Government Sana‘a
Embassy of the Republic of Yemen in Canada Sana‘a’
Embassy of the Republic of Yemen in London Sana‘a
United Nations Sana‘a’
Department of Foreign Affairs and International (Canada) Sanaa (Sana‘a’)
Embassy of the United States in Yemen Sana‘a
Associated Press San‘a
Associated Press San‘a
BBC Sanaa
Google Translate Sanaa
Infoplease Sanaá
Lonely Planet Sana‘a
The Guardian (UK) Sana‘a
The Telegraph (UK) Sana‘a
The Times (UK) Sanaa
U.S. Board on Geographic Names Sanaa
Wikipedia San‘ā’
Wiktionary Sanaa
The World Factbook (U.S. CIA) Sanaa


Ann's picture
Ann on March 19, 2008 - 14:50 Permalink

You would have known this if you did the New York Times crossword puzzle.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on March 19, 2008 - 14:52 Permalink

How does the New York Times crossword puzzle handle the punctuation?

Ann's picture
Ann on March 19, 2008 - 15:03 Permalink

It doesn’t.
The answer would just be sanaa. OR SANAA, if you do the crossword in caps.

oliver's picture
oliver on March 19, 2008 - 16:43 Permalink

I’d recommend you to the book “Motoring with Mohammed,” if I were sure how the title renders “Mohammed.” Anyway, takes place in Yemen, by Eric Hansen.

Marwan's picture
Marwan on July 14, 2008 - 22:40 Permalink

Actually, according to the Bikdash Arabic Transliteration Rules, the name of the city should be SanEaae.