Question about city names that are being renamed

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Sat May 21 14:40:19 UTC 2011


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Let me add my two cents again (since I opened this can of worms) to note a
city in Thailand that we farengi call "Bangkok"
is known there as Krung Thep (กรุงเทพ).  They don't insist that we call it
that; Bangkok is the name of a grove of wild plums at a point in the river
where Europeans found they could sail no further, so a port developed there;
the original capital was on the other side of the  Chao Phraya river, but
then it was moved to Bangkok and renamed.  But the renaming didn't catch on
with us farengi.
(see http://www.into-asia.com/bangkok/introduction/fullname.php)

The Thais don't care that we call it Bangkok, and even use it in various
semi-official ways, e.g. when you land in an airplane there,
they announce it as 'Bangkok.'  So it's often a matter of who cares about
what--the Germans don't care (I guess) that we don't
call their country Deutschland, so they don't make a fuss about it.

Hal Schiffman

On Fri, May 20, 2011 at 6:45 PM, Thrasher, Allen <athr at loc.gov> wrote:

> 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
>
> " 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."
>
>
>
> Actually, it is this attitude I personally find a bit arrogant.  Are
> Anglophones really supposed to start talking not about Germany but about
> Deutschland, and if so, should we preserve the German spelling or rather
> make it phonetic in English, something like Doichlahnt?  And should France
> be Frahns, or rather Lah Frahns?  And the same question for speakers of
> other languages.  Should the French stop talking of Angleterre and the
> Italians of the Tedeschi?  I suspect that different names for the same place
> in different language is in fact NOT a world-wide phenomenon.  Someone
> correct me if I'm wrong, but I presume the traditional Arabic names for
> various Indian ports are not an attempt at transliteration to Arabic of the
> current (21st c.) standard names in the local language whether Gujarati,
> Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil, etc.  What the local government wants to do is
> another thing, as is the policy of the U.S. Board of Geographic names or
> similar government bureaus elsewhere, but is there really a sort of
> universal moral obligation to follow it?  And of course, the Chinese
> versions of foreign placenames are pretty unlikely to be anything
> immediately recognizable to a native of the place in question;  many
> languages have a lot of consonant clusters Chinese and some other languages
> can't deal with.
>
>
>
> Also, of course, what is meant by "the people of a place?"  Speakers of the
> majority or official language of the state currently controlling it, whether
> or not they are regarded as legitimate or desirable by the locals?  The
> local people?  What if there are several ethnic groups locally who use
> different names for the place.
>
>
>
> Allen Thrasher
>
>
>
> 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.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>



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

 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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