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Suri? It baffles Hebrew speakers

April 21, 2006|From the Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' choice of a Hebrew-flavored name for their newborn daughter has speakers of the language scratching their heads.

Baby Suri's name can be traced to a Hebrew word meaning "princess" or "noblewoman," but by such a circuitous route that the connection is lost on most Israelis. Since the birth Tuesday in L.A., bemused Israeli TV and radio presenters have debated the word's origins.

"Nobody here has ever really heard of it," an announcer on Israel's Army Radio said during a discussion Thursday. The Yediot Ahronot newspaper agreed in its report on the celebrity birth.

Cruise's publicist said Tuesday that the name has its origins in Hebrew meaning "princess" or in Persian meaning "red rose."

Avshalom Koor, who has for years presented TV and radio spots on the intricacies of Hebrew, said "Suri" is a derivation of Sarah -- the name of Biblical patriarch Abraham's wife -- as pronounced by some Central European Jews.

"Suri is a pet name for Sarah," Koor told Army Radio. "The Ashkenazi [Jews] of Poland and Hungary pronounce it Suri."

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