Pronouncing Ahmadinejad and Foreign Leader Names

This is a complicated post, so bear with me. The recent visit from the President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad brought up a number of issues, two of them linguistic.
1) For the past several months, most reporters have been pronouncing his last name with a short i on the third -din- syllable (i.e as /amadɪnɨǰad/) But I noticed that by Monday, a few people had changed that syllable to it’s original Persian /i/ (“ee”) to something like /amadinɨǰad/.
The interesting thing was HOW that Persian /i/ was enunciated.
One Middle Eastern expert pronounced it as if 1) she knew something about Persian and 2) Persian was a language we should know about.
But one news anchor added what can only be described as a semi-ironic sneer. His pronunciation said to me “Yes I can pronounce Persian, but still I think he’s a jackass.”
I must say that the case of President Ahmadinejad is an instance where I actually agree with BOTH points of view.
2) And my second point is that no matter what I think of the Iranian President, I am honor bound as a linguist to learn the correct pronunciation of his name. The best source I can find has it as /axmadineʒad/
Too bad the source identified it with the WRONG language. Unless things have really changed in Iran, they are still speaking Persian (aka Farsi) and not Arabic.
Ironically, Persian is distantly related to English…which could be handy someday in the future. Arabic, on the other hand is Semitic and related to Hebrew (not that that seems to be helping anyone in the peace process).

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