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Idle banter forum

The name change game

Posted by MADMAC on 29/3/2012 at 13:40

The older I've gotten, the more I've begun to wonder about this.

Some places change their name for political reasons - there was some sort of sea change and a city or the country itself was renamed. Hence we end up with Ho Chi Minh city or Zimbabwe. I kind of get these ones even if I don't always acknowledge them (for political reasons as well).

Others, though, are stranger. How did Peking go from Peking to Beijing? Or Rangoon to Yangon? If it was just linguistics seeking a more accurate pronunciation, then why does Koeln remain Cologne and Muenchen remain Munich?

Thoughts?

#1 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by goonistik on 29/3/2012 at 20:41

The pronunciation of Chinese never changed. What changed was the system of romanizing Chinese.The spelling "Peking" is probably from the older Wade-Giles system which has been supplanted by pinyin.

The advantage to pinyin is that the spelling is closer to the actual pronounciation. While in the Wade-Giles system, only the those familiar with the system knew that Peking was pronounced more like Beijing.

#2 goonistik has been a member since 7/1/2010. Location: Philippines. Posts: 562
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Posted by caseyprich on 29/3/2012 at 21:13

A good recent article about the developer of the system:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-17455067

Many of the problems with the Wade-Giles format came from their being to closely associated with the more Southern Dialect- so the famous Kowloon (Cantonese) area of Hong Kong is actually Jiulong in Mandarin which is nine dragons. Hong Kong is in fact Xianggang (fragrant harbour) to mainlanders.

#3 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by sayadian on 29/3/2012 at 23:18

It works both ways London is Londres to the French.the above writer is correct as far as languages which have to be transliterated.The one thing I refuse to do is call Saigon some stupid commie name which takes half hour to pronounce.We all do it-why because that's the way it is.My girl takes no offence when I call Moskva Moscow.BTW why do you Americans rhyme Moscow with cow as in the animal?

#4 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by caseyprich on 30/3/2012 at 01:47

Have you seen the babushkas?

#5 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by eastwest on 30/3/2012 at 02:36

LOL.

Anyway, there are a lot of distinctions when it comes to name changes. The above are correct but there are several other reasons.

- english/roman names may change but for many local people the names remain the same in their own language. (China)
- after liberation from colonial/suppresive powers a country wants to emphasize this and go back to previous names as a statement (South Africa, India, Myanmar) and strength of own identity
- names just change. Some or most european cities names can be derived from latin because that's when the first names were given. Most have changed however to a more modern form. Some keep changing with the winners (Strasburg (german)/Strassbourg(french))
- language itself is fluid. Many cities or countries were spelled differently 100 years ago while they were exactly the same cities and pronounced the same.

#6 eastwest has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 778

Posted by DLuek on 30/3/2012 at 07:29 TF writer

What gets me is how "Bangkok" ("village of plums") is really the old name for part of what's now Thonburi. In the late 1700s the capital was moved across the river and named "Krung Thep" ("city of angels", actually the name is much longer but that's the shortened version), which is what all Thais refer to the city as today, but for whatever reason foreigners stuck to calling it "Bangkok" until now.

I wonder why "Krung Thep" never caught on...

#7 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,151
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Posted by sayadian on 30/3/2012 at 08:57

'Have you seen the babushkas?'
Frightened me to death.

Is that true that Bangkok means village of plums?
I'd never heard that before; so Travelfish is certainly educational ;-)

I know Krung Tep is only a shortened form-you have that funny little squiggle underneath in Thai to denote this.Most Thais call it Krung Tep so it's strange farang call it Bangkok.
Why is Nakorn Ratchasima called Korat?
Why is Kuala Lumpar called KL? All Malaysian cities seem to have these abbreviations.

#8 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by goonistik on 30/3/2012 at 10:42

Why is Kuala Lumpar called KL? All Malaysian cities seem to have these abbreviations.

Peter Farb discusses this in his book "Wordplay." There is an economy of saying two syllables versus four or more syllables. So "Los Angeles" becomes "L.A." You also have "Frisco" for San Francisco, etc. At least that is what I can remember,

#9 goonistik has been a member since 7/1/2010. Location: Philippines. Posts: 562
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Posted by MADMAC on 30/3/2012 at 14:20

"Is that true that Bangkok means village of plums?"

It's one possible explanation for the origins of the name. There are a couple. Bangkok is not a direct translation of anything. What is known is that the name if much older than "Krung Thep" and, in a sense, much more Thai. But today when not talking to foreigners, Thais mostly refer to the city as Krung Thep. However, on the sides of at least some of the buses going to Mukdahan from Bangkok, they will read บางกอก which is Thai for Bangkok. But most buses do not use it. Not sure why some going to Muk do.

#10 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by MADMAC on 30/3/2012 at 14:20

Well, it won't let me post Thai script. Not sure why.

#11 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by sayadian on 30/3/2012 at 23:07

Mac
Have you installed the font on your computer?

#12 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by MADMAC on 31/3/2012 at 00:30

Yeah, I type in Thai about every week (and painfully slowly I might add). Not sure why it didn't take.

#13 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by eastwest on 18/4/2012 at 05:22

This article fits perfectly in this thread

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/9209343/Austrian-village-F-ing-to-vote-on-name-change.html

#14 eastwest has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 778


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