Wednesday, September 26, 2007

You say tomato...

Andrew Sullivan proudly asserts his refusal here to use the term “Myanmar” to refer to the Southeast Asian country found at the coordinates 22 00 N, 98 00 E (thank you CIA World Factbook). Wikipedia explains the history of the two names here:

The colloquial name Bama is supposed to have originated from the name Myanma by shortening of the first syllable (loss of nasal "an", reduced to non-nasal "a", and loss of "y" glide), and then by transformation of "m" into "b". This sound change from "m" to "b" is frequent in colloquial Burmese, and occurs in many other words. Although Bama may be a later transformation of the name Myanma, both names have been in use alongside each other for centuries.

I respect Sullivan’s point that he wants to resist totalitarian p.r.; however, if Wikipedia is correct and “both names have been in use alongside each other for centuries” then this seems like a trivial way to do it.

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