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    Default Travel place names

    Some may find this interesting, especially if you travel to far out places.

    One of my pet hates is when people refer to the Chinese capital as Beijing instead of Peking, and India's Bombay as Mumbai. You also see it with the unspellable and unsayable Chinese city of Guangzhou (I had to Google it) which is in reality what we know as Canton. Or when people say Myanmar instead of its name in English, Burma. I could go on, but the article below is an interesting read if you are guilty of this and you probably didn't know.

    When I visited Bombay, I noticed a fair amount of Indians still use Bombay for the reasons stated below, as well as the newspapers being called the Bombay Times, the High Court of Bombay and the Bombay Dockyard. I refuse to use Mumbai.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday
    Been to Zhongguo lately? Or perhaps to Bharat? What to say to people who do the cultural cringe to China and India.

    This is about what a clever colleague of mine described as 'Mumbai Jumbo’, the way in which British people absurdly and selectively accept the renaming of foreign cities because they think it is politically correct. The two most prominent examples are the way we have all (except me, of course) stopped saying 'Peking' and started saying 'Beijing' , and the way we have substituted 'Mumbai' for 'Bombay'.

    Let's deal first of all with ‘Beijing’. Yes, this is the real Chinese name of the country's capital. (And the Chinese don't call their country 'China'. they call it 'Zhongguo'). It always has been. But then again, the capital of Russia (or 'Rassiya' as its people know it) has always been Moskva (pronounce it 'Maskva' wih the emphasis on the 'va'). The lovely chief city of the Czech Republic is actually called 'Praha' by its citizens. The country you think of as 'Hungary' believes it is called 'Magyarorszag'.

    The chilly capital of Finland ('Suomi', since you ask) is not Helsinki to many of its inhabitants, but 'Helsingfors' . If you want to be fussy, the capital of France should be pronounced ‘Paree’. Copenhagen is Kobenhaven, when it's at home. On the 'Beijing rather than Peking' principle, the book and film of 'The Third Man' take place in ‘Wien’. A lot of mildly adventurous people these days take Mediterranean holidays in a country which thinks it is called 'Hrvatska'. More intrepid travellers, going a little further east, might have reached Athina, in Hellas, or Lefkosia in Kypros, or even ventured to Dimashq, or al-Qāhirah. The divided capital of Israel is known to many of its inhabitants as Al Quds.

    But mostly these visitors don't know that, and couldn't pronounce these names if they did. And I doubt if many of those who head off for stag parties in 'Baile Atha Cliath' are aware of the official name of the city they pollute with their puking and yelling. Even the cultural tourists to the same place, in search of James Joyce references, still call it 'Dublin'. Hardly any Western visitors to a certain former British Colony have any idea that Hong Kong is really called 'Yang Kang'.

    But I bet they all slavishly call Peking 'Beijing'.

    My view is that it's a cultural cringe to a newly powerful China. But most other European countries don't do it (check the headlines of their newspapers next time you're in Wien, Warszawa, Bucuresti, Anvers, Nuernberg , Muenchen, Firenze, or absolutely anywhere in Sverige, Norge or Espana ) , and I really don't see why we should. And are you really offended that Poles call London 'Londyn', that the Italians call it 'Londra' and the French call it 'Londres'? On the contrary, it's a compliment, that your capital is famous enough to merit its own name in the great languages of the world.

    As for 'Mumbai', Indian friends of mine are specially vexed by this. The name-change is in fact the idea of a very nasty Hindu nationalist party, famed for its intolerance and for its leader's admiration for Hitler. It is much disliked by many of the city's own people, who appreciate living in a place so famous that it has a world-famous name. In Bombay itself, you can still find the Bombay edition of the Times of India, the Bombay High Court and of course Bombay Central Railway station, from which a splendid sleeper express will take you to Delhi, across hundreds of miles of Bharat (which is what Indians call India).

    Then again, there's Cambodia, which is really called 'Kampuchea', but which prefers not to be known by that name just now, because it was the one favoured by the hated mass murderers of the Khmer Rouge. A bit of a problem for the PC movement, that one. And is Burma 'Myanmar' this week, or is back to Burma again because we once again disapprove of its regime?

    All or nothing, if you ask me. If you call Paris 'Paris' rather than 'Paree', then you really have to say 'Peking' and 'Bombay'. If you say 'Beijing' and 'Mumbai' then you really have to say 'Paree' . And if you call Paris 'Paree' rather than 'Paris', then you strike me as being a bit of a twit, in any language.

    Revised July 2019. Originally published in 2007.
    Last edited by -:Undertaker:-; 06-07-2019 at 10:09 AM.
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