I say Myanmar, you say Burma

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu May 8 06:29:20 UTC 2008

I'm  missing your point, Mark. Etymologically speaking, the name is
derived from a phrase that means "on the border," and it still means
that, whether there's a definite article preceding it in English or
not. The original name of the nation centered around Kyiv was _Rus'_,
arguably derived from the Finnic word for "Swede." What eventually
became what was once known as "Great Russia," "Little Russia," and
"White Russia" was founded by Swedish Vikings, one of whom, "Riurik,"
from an Old Norse name something like _Rjoerikr_ "Roderick", became
the first head of the Russian state. All rulers of Russia, through
Ivan IV Groznyi, "The Terrible," are deemed to have been
_Riurikovichi_ "Sons of Riurik." When Ivan the Terrible freaked out
and beat his adolescent son to death, that was the end of the
Riurikovich line. After the original Russian state was destroyed by
the Tatars of The Golden Horde, a new one emerged, still headed by a
Riurikovich, this time centered around a _kreml'_ "fort" on the banks
of the Moscow River and the site of the original Russian state was
subsequently and consequently reduced to a mere borderland of the new
Russian state.

Damn! All that I originally meant to say was that Ukraine could revive
the historically-relevant _Rus'_ as its official name.


On Wed, May 7, 2008 at 9:22 AM, Mark Mandel <thnidu at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>  Poster:       Mark Mandel <thnidu at GMAIL.COM>
>  Subject:      Re: I say Myanmar, you say Burma
>  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>  On Tue, May 6, 2008 at 6:01 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
>  > If they didn't have such a tin ear, they would have renamed the place
>  >  "Ukrainia," given fact that, in Ukrainian, there's no way to
>  >  distinguish between "Ukraine" and "The Ukraine." The "distinction" is
>  >  peculiar to English (and to various other articulated languages, of
>  >  course).
>  ISTR the argument that the origin of the word was a common noun that
>  meant something like "borderland", which is how the article got into
>  the English name. The Ukrainian government reasoned that their country
>  was not a borderland, especially now that it was independent again.
>  --
>  Mark Mandel
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>  The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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 -Sam'l Clemens

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