there's this country. you've probably heard of it, but when in syria you're not supposed to talk about it. in order to get a visa to visit syria you need to state that you've never been to this place and they won't issue the visa unless there are no stamps in your passport that give any indication that you've ever been there.
nevertheless, most travelers in syria have been there. and one thing travelers cannot resist doing when they get together is talk about their prior travels.
thus the problem. and it gets a little tedious talking repeatedly about "the-place-with-no-name." it's simply too long. the artist formerly known as an unpronouncable symbol once discovered the same problem and later reverted to his pronouncable original.
before i left for syria i met a friend of my arabic tutor who just got back from living in syria. she told me her friends started referring to the unnamed country as "italy." i told this story to some of the travelers i met and it quickly caught on. of course, new people we met would be a bit confused when someone mentioned they were only fluent in the italian dialect of arabic, or when someone described their plan to go to egypt overland via jordan and italy.
of course, i had my own secret when i was traveling through syria. whenever i spoke to syrians in arabic, they always followed the same line of questions, more or less in order: (1) where are you from? (2) what is your name? (3) are you married? (4) how many children? (5) what is your religion?
#5 is the one that always gave me trouble. i would do my best to divert the conversation somewhere in steps 1-4. i once asked the advice of a fellow traveler on how to handle such question. "ah," he said, "you're italian-american?"