Mumbai/Bombay article

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jul 17 01:19:52 UTC 2006

Well, the "o" in "bõa" is nasalized. On the other hand, an "o" not
bearing main stress is pronounced [u] "oo," not "oh" [o] or "aw" [O].
And "bahía" is pronounced approximately as [baî@] "bah-EE-uh." It's
hard to get English:"Bombay" out of these sounds, even assuming the
British pronunciation.

For me, "the origin of the name is obscure" is the final decision. As
for the origin of "Mumbai," I don't know enough Sanskrit to be able to
suggest a derivation. However, IMO, the derivations suggested by
others are rubbish, based on what Sanskrit I do know. Is there some
publication more or less equivalent to the OED for India?


On 7/16/06, Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
> Subject:      Re: Mumbai/Bombay article
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >Portuguese is a language with grammatical gender. "Bom Bahía" is
> >imposible. It would have to be "Bõa Bahía." So, forget that WAG. And
> >is there an actual word "baim" in Portuguese?
> Good points IMHO. Sometimes "Bombay" is said to be derived from Portuguese
> "boa baia" ... but then why the "m"? In Portuguese it's "Bombaim", I think
> ... so why the two "m"s? [I omit the diacritics.]
> Maybe there is some possible explanation: maybe Portuguese was pronounced
> differently way back when, or there were different dialects, or something.
> Leaving aside the origin and pronunciation of the Portuguese name of the
> place, if the name was interpreted early ('correctly' or not) as "boa baia"
> or equivalent, I think maybe the French equivalent "bonne baie" might could
> give just about the right sound for English "Bombay"; I don't know enough
> about conditions of the time to guess whether this is possibly relevant.
> I don't know of an appropriate "baim" and I don't see one at a glance.
> Which don't mean much.
> -- Doug Wilson
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