Monday, July 17, 2006

Bombay was officially renamed 11 years ago
And I didn’t know about it until now! I guessed that it was a nationalist ‘correction’ of the pronunciation and it was. Like the Communist re-spelling of Peking, which in the local language always was Beijing. (To be fair apparently the Wade-Giles way of transliterating Chinese wasn’t very good but I shall never get used to q = ‘ch’ in Pinyin.)

I think the wire services still say Bombay; the television says Mumbai. The national government is right about not wanting to lose name recognition. (Just like trying to eradicate English as a second language would only impoverish the country.)

Usually traditional English names remain in use in our language: Munich, which is also easier for us to say, not the local München, and why Paris is not ‘Paree’. (Napoli is nicer than Naples though and just as easy to pronounce.) One exception is in Italy it’s the prettier Livorno, the local name, not Leghorn anymore. Fair enough.

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