Question about city names that are being renamed

Dileep Damle dileep_damle at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu May 19 11:26:39 UTC 2011


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Mumbai has always been called Mumbai by speakers of Marathi since certainly the 17th century.  Hindi Speakers call it bumbaai, which seems a corruption of the English Bombay.  I believe Gujaratis (probably second largest linguistic group after Marathi speakers also call it Mumbai.  I was born a Marathi speaking mumbaikar and there was never any doubt in my mind that its proper name is Mumbai.

There is little doubt that the move to reassert the local name was triggered by two events.  One, the reorganisation of the states on a linguistic basis in the late 1950s when there was a considerable dispute over whether Mumbai should go to Maharashtra or Gujarat and some people also wanted it to become a city state rather like Goa.  Maharashtra won out and Mumbai became the state capital, always referred to in the state’s official Marathi language discourse as Mumbai.  Second event was the rise of Shiv Sena which claimed to stand for the local Marathi population rather than immigrants from other states and beyond who have always held power in the economic and political fields.  Much of the opposition to the name change comes from these ‘outsiders’, who espouse their ancestral connections with Europe.

But surely, it is for the people of a place to determine the name of their city and if they want to throw off the place names imposed on them by foreign invaders then who should deny it.  It is a European custom that a city is given a different name by each foreign nation, vis London=Londres, Munchen=Munich ,Firenze=Florence, Venezia=Venice.  It is certainly not a world-wide phenomenon.  We are now in the post-clolonial period and perhaps it is time to stop such arrogance.

The British corrupted names of Indian cities Varanasi –> Benares, Vadodra->Baroda, Kanpur –>Cawnpore, Pune-> Poona.  Unfortunately the Latin based scripts are terrible at expressing the sounds of words, but the most common and most users of these scripts seem to think that there is something natural and obvious about it.  Without some serious attempt to phoneticise these scripts,  I fear that this abuse will continue.  These ‘name changes’ are often re-spellings and should be welcomed.  The Chinese went through a similar process; vis Beijing, Mao Se Dung, Zhou En Lai, ...

Dileep Damle

From: Mahajan, Gyanam 
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 11:22 PM
To: VYAKARAN at LISTSERV.SYR.EDU 
Subject: Re: Question about city names that are being renamed

VYAKARAN: South Asian Languages and Linguistics Net Editors: Tej K. Bhatia, Syracuse University, New York John Peterson, University of Osnabrueck, Germany Details: Send email to listserv at listserv.syr.edu and say: INFO VYAKARAN Subscribe:Send email to listserv at listserv.syr.edu and say: SUBSCRIBE VYAKARAN FIRST_NAME LAST_NAME (Substitute your real name for first_name last_name) Archives: http://listserv.syr.edu 
 

 

It is a CBS news item: 

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/10/11/world/main648623.shtmlp://

 

Gyanam

 

Gyanam Mahajan, Ph.D.

Language Program Coordinator, SSEALC

ALC Department, UCLA

 

 

 

From: South Asian Linguists [mailto:VYAKARAN at LISTSERV.SYR.EDU] On Behalf Of Mahajan, Gyanam
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 3:19 PM
To: VYAKARAN at LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
Subject: Re: Question about city names that are being renamed

 

VYAKARAN: South Asian Languages and Linguistics Net Editors: Tej K. Bhatia, Syracuse University, New York John Peterson, University of Osnabrueck, Germany Details: Send email to listserv at listserv.syr.edu and say: INFO VYAKARAN Subscribe:Send email to listserv at listserv.syr.edu and say: SUBSCRIBE VYAKARAN FIRST_NAME LAST_NAME (Substitute your real name for first_name last_name) Archives: http://listserv.syr.edu 

Greetings from UCLA. There is a UC Berkeley paper that might be of interest and it also provides several references http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~easwaran/papers/india.html. 

I remember another article which pointed out that the Bombay Stock Exchange or Bombay High Court or Madras University etc. have retained their name. I will try and find the link to that article and pass it on.

Best,

Gyanam

 

Gyanam Mahajan, Ph.D.

Language Program Coordinator, SSEALC

ALC Department, UCLA

 

 

 

From: South Asian Linguists [mailto:VYAKARAN at LISTSERV.SYR.EDU] On Behalf Of Thrasher, Allen
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 2:59 PM
To: VYAKARAN at LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
Subject: Re: Question about city names that are being renamed

 

VYAKARAN: South Asian Languages and Linguistics Net Editors: Tej K. Bhatia, Syracuse University, New York John Peterson, University of Osnabrueck, Germany Details: Send email to listserv at listserv.syr.edu and say: INFO VYAKARAN Subscribe:Send email to listserv at listserv.syr.edu and say: SUBSCRIBE VYAKARAN FIRST_NAME LAST_NAME (Substitute your real name for first_name last_name) Archives: http://listserv.syr.edu 

Hal,

 

Do you mean you didn't hear Madras referred to as Chennai by local people when speaking English, or when speaking Tamil as well?

 

Peter Hook remarked to me back in 69-70 when the push was starting to rename Poona Pune (or rather, in the unreformed Marathi spelling of the day, PuneM), that the same people who insisted on Pune(M) in fact said Poona/PunA, in both Marathi and English.

 

Allen

 

Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.

Senior Reference Librarian and Team Coordinator

South Asia Team

Asian Division

Library of Congress

Washington, DC 20540-4810

USA

tel. 202-707-3732

fax 202-707-1724

The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library of Congress.

 

 

 

From: South Asian Linguists [mailto:VYAKARAN at LISTSERV.SYR.EDU] On Behalf Of Harold Schiffman
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 4:31 PM
To: VYAKARAN at LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
Subject: Question about city names that are being renamed

 

VYAKARAN: South Asian Languages and Linguistics Net Editors: Tej K. Bhatia, Syracuse University, New York John Peterson, University of Osnabrueck, Germany Details: Send email to listserv at listserv.syr.edu and say: INFO VYAKARAN Subscribe:Send email to listserv at listserv.syr.edu and say: SUBSCRIBE VYAKARAN FIRST_NAME LAST_NAME (Substitute your real name for first_name last_name) Archives: http://listserv.syr.edu Hi, all:

I've been asked by a colleague in another (non-South Asian) area of the world
what is the history of colonial city naming in India, and whether it is possible to
reconstruct what the "original" names for Bombay/Mumbai, Madras/Chennai, and
Calcutta/Kolkata.  

Two questions in particular I have is whether (1) Bombay was ever called Mumbai by
speakers of other languages of India, other than Marathi, and (2) when exactly did the
call for renaming Bombay as Mumbai began?  I'd be interested to know how recently
this phenomenon is.  

I know that in the case of Madras/Chennai, I never heard of "Chennai" when I first went
to Tamilnadu (then called Madras State) in 1965 and only later was there a push to rename the
city.

I keep in mind an incident from when I was involved in SEASSI and went to Hanoi to
recruit teachers of Vietnamese.  We noticed that when speaking Vietnamese, people
referred to Saigon as Saigon, but when speaking English, they called it Ho Chi Minh City.
So I'm wondering whether this practice is all current in referring to Indian city names.

Hal Schiffman

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Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of 
Dravidian Linguistics and Culture 
Dept. of South Asia Studies                     
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

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