Question about city names that are being renamed

Lakshmi Srinivas lsrinivas at YAHOO.COM
Fri May 20 11:59:55 UTC 2011


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Re Prof Schiffman's comments on Chennai, there are additional aspects to be 
considered, I feel:

1. Many of the cities prominent today had no old and traditional names. Many 
were just fishing or trading villages which in time grew to being big cities. So 
the name itself might have had currency only from Colonial times. Sometimes more 
than one name might have been used. 
2. In the case of Chennai, the name Chennapatnam  is said to be the local name 
dating back to the late 17th century. However this name would have got reduced 
in currency over the centuries as British administrative name for this city was 
Madras. Nevertheless, in Tamil and Telugu the name was always used albeit in 
short form as 'patnam' ('The City'). My own late father (Madras born and raised) 
and all his relatives always refered to Madras in ordinary conversation as 
'patnam'. My Mothers' family, from Thanjavur, likewise used the term 'patnam' 
for Madras. I daresay 'patnam' was the pre 1950's Spoken Standard Tamil name for 
the city :) Also, most Tamil, Telugu, grantha books printed in the 30's or 
before, seem to refer to the city as 'Chennai(i)pat(ta)nam'. 


Over a period of time, Madras seems to have superseded 'patnam' completely. The 
fact that a strange name like 'Madras' - blessed by Colonial administration - 
completely superseded a native name like 'patnam' can also be seen in the fact 
that even in Tamil, the name 'Madras' has many different spellings. Again, in 
Malayalam, it has a completely different spelling than any of the Tamil ones. 
 'Chennai' on the other hand is spelt the same way in Telugu, Tamil and 
Malayalam. Perhaps in this case, we should consider this as a case of a foreign 
name, though not English,  completely  replacing the native name. This has been 
reversed now. 


Hope tis helps,

Lakshmi Srinivas



________________________________
From: Harold Schiffman <haroldfs at GMAIL.COM>
To: VYAKARAN at LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
Sent: Wed, May 18, 2011 3:30:31 PM
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 
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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

-- 
=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+

 Harold F. Schiffman

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

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138                                      

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/    

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