November 28, 2008

"Terrorists Strike in Indian City"

That was the rather long and uninformative headline a few days ago in the local newspaper. They couldn't say "Terrorists Strike in Mumbai" because few of the local rag's readers know in what country "Mumbai" is. Readers have heard of "Bombay." They've eaten at Bombay Bicycle Club restaurants and they've bought end tables from Bombay Co. Furniture stores, so they mostly know Bombay is a city in India. But, Mumbai they don't know from Kolkata or Chennai. So, the headline writer has to refer to "Indian City" because the English-language media recently stopped using the place name that has been used in English for centuries.

The effect, of course, is what normally happens when names are changed. The Name Game just makes most people more ignorant (while giving a few people another reason to self-congratulate over their superior sensitivity). Older Americans who grew up hearing about Bombay can't understand today's news; and younger Americans who are growing up hearing about Mumbai won't be able to understand all the books in the library that refer to Bombay.

Fortunately, there's a double standard that prevents the media from junking Anglicized spellings of places in the white world. We're in no danger that "Florence" or "Germany" will disappear from the AP stylebook to be replaced by baffling references to "Firenze" and "Deutschland."

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

115 comments:

James said...

That's not all the obfuscate. Not just generic terrorists.

孔夫子, the Œcumenical Volgi (The Notorious ŒV) said...

That's not entirely true. Didn't you sit through the Olympics in "Torino" Italy? "Look, the Shroud of Turin! Or is it a manifold from a Ford Torino? I can't tell!"

Anonymous said...

Glad to see your priorities are in order, Steve.

Anonymous said...

Shoulda been "Terrorists Strike City in India".

Lots of lefties are going to look at the "Indian City" headline and hiss, "Make that Native American City, you racist jerk!"

Ali said...

Huh? Do people get confused if you refer to Sri Lanka, Thailand and Zimbabwe instead of Ceylon, Siam and Ehodesia?

Steve Sailer said...

Of course they do.

Truth said...

Oh; you meant Rhodesia. I was about to say 'one learns something every day.'

Anonymous said...

the official english name was changed in india from bombay to mumbai and western newspapers are just respecting that

Anonymous said...

Make that Native American City, you racist jerk!

There is an astounding anti-PC show currently playing on the History Channel called "Journey to 10,000 BC". It will change your idea of what constitutes a Native American. Here is a link to the DVD version...

http://shop.history.com/detail.php?a=113450

It is anti-PC history because it challenges the Bering Strait > to North and South America Land Migration Theory of Indigenous People.

The show features Europeans as Ancient People In The New World and claims they pre-dated any Bering Strait immigration...but it also says these same European immigrants got wiped out or were pushed out of the New World by a meteoric climate change event.

The ancestors of these early settlers were the Solutrean people of ancient Europe (present day France). And it appears the Clovis People wikipedia page is changing to accomodate the new evidence...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clovis_people

This is a big deal. The Non-European Indigenous People Theory is pumped through our education system as a building block of the La Raza empowerment, Culture of Critique, and the zeitgeist of white dispossession in North America.

But this new Ancient White Man Populated The Americas Theory throws a gigantic monkey wrench into the education establishment's worldview.

The fur flies a bit on this thread over who is the true and authentic indigenous people...

http://anthropology.net/2008/03/10/my-thoughts-on-history-channels-journey-to-10000-bc/

Funny how Bering Strait Land Bridge immigration is accepted as perfectly logical but the same sort of immigration from Europe in a world with much lower sea levels is derided as outlandish fiction.

"Yes, whites are not very accomplished explorers! Everybody knows that! Euro-types tend to give up when presented with obstacles in their path! No way they could have migrated from present day France! I don't care what the spear tip evidence is or what the carbon dating says!"

By the way it appears that this History Channel show first appeared in March 2008.

Bill said...

This bothers me quite a bit, too.

I still frequently call Beijing Peking. Why not? Beida (Beijing Daxue -- directly translates to Beijing University), is still officially known as Peking University. It's only because of the Communists, who insisted on using their own romanization, that we made the switch to Beijing.

I blame the NY Times for going along with these demands and ramming this stuff down our throats. As the "paper of record" they essentially dictate linguistic propriety.

agnostic said...

On the plus side, "Bombay" will start to sound even more exotic, like "Persia," "Levant," or "Transjordan."

testing99 said...

More important is the motive behind the attack.

It's got ISI fingerprints all over it, some of the attackers captured alive said they expected to exit back to Pakistan. Support people caching weapons, surveilling the heck out the police and anti-terror forces, a stolen police van filled with jihadis, a strategy of engaging the police forces all over the city including hospitals and cinemas to enable large groups to capture hotels and the Jewish Center in Bombay ... that's not the typical signature of either AQ (big explosions) or typical low-level jihads.

Various analysts have counted up to 200 people who had to be involved, keeping a secret, when all is said and done (including logistics support, detailed maps, target lists, surveillance, etc.). There were command posts and cached weapons/ammo and blackberry coms. Even though the authorities shut down the cell phone network. Total operational surprise was achieved. Americans, Britons, and Jews were singled out for murder. Few Muslims if any were killed (what did in AQ in Iraq). Most of Bombay was surprised there was even a Lubavitcher center in their city, so low key and hidden it was, which points to thorough work by professionals, not raving wild eyed amateurs.

For those familiar with the Jamat al Muslimeen coup attempt in Trinidad and Tobago, in July 1990, it was sort of like that, except supersized. [Muslim coup plotters took over Parliament and the TV station, fighting left 24 dead, amnesty and pardons resulted in a surrender.]

Most of the men arrived by boat, launched from pirated vessels with the crew and captains dead. [One Indian ship, one Vietnamese ship. Who said Piracy was a trivial concern?]

Bottom line, a total force (including logistics) of about 200 plus men (likely including moles in the police force to give real-time feedback to the attackers) took over a city and shot up whoever they wanted. Pretty much with impunity. About 150 dead, in India's commercial capital and home of many of the financial and outsourcing places (like Wipro). Foreign capital is fleeing. Indian pols are openly blaming Pakistan and the ISI.

Likely domestic pressure is going to have to do something. An attack on Pakistan, proper, and some sort of reprisals against the domestic Muslims, if nothing else to head off impromptu violence that threatens to catapult whoever leads the mob into power.

A stupid move, by the ISI, but it's classic over-reach. What scares everyone is the implication.

If someone pulled this off in DC, or NYC, or Boston, or Chicago, with all that press attention and "success" defined by lots of dead Americans during a holiday, whoever headed that organization would find money and men pouring into their hands. You could create your very own exile Army that way.

There were no nukes used. No MANPADs. Just AK-47s, some grenades, trained gunmen who expected to survive and exit. Lots of diversionary attacks that tire out and confuse the police/military so that the attackers main force has local superior manpower and firepower. That's it.

I'm sure we will see this repeated in the US soon, the "success" of the media attention guarantees it. Since the goal of this type of operation is to attract followers, and not much else.

jean raspail said...

To be consistent, we should start calling the Indian film capital Mollywood. But the Indians and the PC American reporters don't have the courage of their convictions, and won't make any effort to alter a name that undeservedly flatters the Indian film industry.

michael farris said...

"Terrorists Strike in Indian City"

Who's their union representative?

Anonymous said...

Wait till Mount Everest is renamed Mount Qomolangma...

Anyway, thanks to Ali for clearing up Siam from Saipan. Those WWII movies across countries not found on my map always fed my geographic confusion.

Anonymous said...

I still frequently call Beijing Peking. Why not? Beida (Beijing Daxue -- directly translates to Beijing University), is still officially known as Peking University. It's only because of the Communists, who insisted on using their own romanization

This is a difficult question that probably breaks in favor of the new system.

One must choose a standard Romanization of Chinese. The question is which? The earlier phonetic of a local dialect, Cantonese (e.g. Peking, Canton), or the country-wide Mandarin putonghua phonetic that is the official language (Beijing, Guangdong)?

If the universe's knowledge of China only extends to four or five cities (Canton, Peking, Shanghai, etc), then the old Romanization works fine.

But for anyone doing more detailed writing, such as a scholar or reporter, only the new system works. One really can't go around much of the country pronuncing words as though in Guangdong province.

Anonymous said...

I can't get upset over this. It is not diffucult to keep up with the name changes.

And we might ask how the "English" versions of various place names got so confused to begin with. For example, Firenze has always been called Firenze by Italians, but for some reason British mapmakers started calling it Florence. Why? Same with Torino/Turin, Roma/Rome, and so forth. Either the Brits didn't listen well, or were too lazy to find out what the real names were.

Robert said...

Congo became Zaire, and then (just in time for ordinary users of atlases, etc., to have become accustomed to Zaire) became Congo again. Maybe Benin will revert to Dahomey at some stage, or Burkina Faso (celebrated home of spam E-mailers) to Upper Volta.

DYork said...

Fortunately, there's a double standard that prevents the media from junking Anglicized spellings of places in the white world.

So in other words we will have to wait a few decades before European cities are given their proper Arabic, Pakistani, Turkish and African names.

Anonymous said...

Does African immigration alter a European nation's per capita condom size requirements?

Survey: French Men Say They Need Bigger Condoms

Well, we can't expect the American media to sort out the racial implications of this news story, can we?

Sounds like a job for iSteve.

Thras said...

It wasn't the Western press who changed the name. It was the locals. Bombay sounded too British, and there was some invented history about the name Mumbai.

So yes, when the natives change the name of a country or city, even for weird reasons, why not use the new name?

It's not like that many Americans even know where Bombay is in the first place.

Kai Carver said...

The solution is obviously to use Chinese characters. The capital of China is written 北京. Pronounce it however you like (in Mandarin Chinese it's pronounced "beijing"). The Japanese capital is 東京. The Japanese pronounce it something like "tokyo", the Chinese pronounce it "dongjing". Who cares!

As for the Indian city you mentioned, it's 孟買, pronounced "mengmai" in Mandarin. In English some people pronounce it "bombay", others "mumbai". In India too, I gather.

Stopped Clock said...

I live in America, so I may be misinformed, but I think the EU is pushing the use of autonyms for countries and languages. For example on this page, Turkey is Türkiye, Spain is España, and Germany is Deutschland. The cities are likewise also autonyms. Yet on the same pages they also use the terms Germany, Turkey, etc and have not yet tossed out the English versions of the names of the languages.

Anonymous said...

I also still call Peking Peking, much to the chagrin of Orientals I know - it definately is a form of ethinic 'bullying' and white liberal superiortity.

Its funny how the PC idiots think they are being progressive for chastising us for using "Bombay" - the change to Mumbai is a. not historic - b. done by ultra prejudice 'xenophobic' nationalists who actually want to remove all muslim names. It would be like white naitionalist party taking over the Iowa legistlative branch and changing all the french and indian names to anglo ones, even if their historic names (des moines) were french or indian>

Of course, liberals here also embrace the american wing of the Hindu Nationalist party....their stupidity or lengths they go to to look 'progressive' always provides me with amusement...and

I should also add, most Indians still call it Bombay - its kind of like Sixth Avenue in New York (ever hear a new yorker say "avenue of the Americas?"

Ross said...

As I understand enlightened westerners call it Mumbai to demonstrate how culturally sensitive they are.

I heard the Indian novelist Vikram Chandra being interviewed on the radio a few months ago and he kept referring to Bombay while his western host called it Mumbai. Eventually the host asked him why and Chandra explained that Mumbai is a name imposed by Hindu nationalists over the objections of secularist, Muslims and other minorities, to honour a Hindu deity.

In other words those who think that they are being terribly sensitive and PC by calling it Mumbai are actually being the opposite.

VG said...

Frankly, I had no idea Firenze is Florence. So, now I know that Tom Waits Live in Firenze album that I have was recorded in Florence. I thought it was somewhere in Switzerland. As for Deutschland, even if the media went so PC to start referring to Germany as Deutschland (not that THAT'S ever gonna happen), I'm sure most people would know it, what with all the anti Nazi films that Hollywood has been churning out.

As for the Bombay attacks, a lot of people think the present Indian government is somewhat like a liberal west European government, appeasing radical Muslims with dialogue. Look where Europe got with that.

Anonymous said...

It does seem to me one victory of common sense over PC is the increasingly frequent reference to 'American Indians' rather than 'Native Americans'. Sometimes political gibberish does have to bow to the actual meaning of words.

Popadom said...

Well, as long as you can still get a Chicken Madras at the local curry house, there'll always be a corner of the world that is forever British India.

dearieme said...

For the Chinese city, I have adopted "By Jingo".

I do miss "Esquimaux".

Truth said...

"The show features Europeans as Ancient People In The New World and claims they pre-dated any Bering Strait immigration...but it also says these same European immigrants got wiped out or were pushed out of the New World by a meteoric climate change event..."

If a man who owns a nice house dies without any heirs or a will, can his 4th cousin lay claim to it?

Anonymous said...


"If the universe's knowledge of China only extends to four or five cities (Canton, Peking, Shanghai, etc), then the old Romanization works fine.

But for anyone doing more detailed writing, such as a scholar or reporter, only the new system works."

But we already have the example of Italian place names. The best-known Italian cities (Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice...) are called with their traditional English names.

The smaller, less-important ones are called by their actual local names.

I see nothing wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

My eyes usually glaze over when I try to read evil neocon but this caught my eye.

"Most of Bombay was surprised there was even a Lubavitcher center in their city, so low key and hidden it was, which points to thorough work by professionals, not raving wild eyed amateurs."

Or maybe they knew how to use the Google?

http://www.chabad.org/centers/default_cdo/country/India/jewish/Chabad-Lubavitch.htm

Anonymous said...

Anon said:


The earlier phonetic of a local dialect, Cantonese (e.g. Peking, Canton),


Do you have any real experience with Cantonese? Peking and Canton sound nothing like the Cantonese of those names. Well, the 'ing' is there in Peking, but that is all.

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

Fortunately, there's a double standard that prevents the media from junking Anglicized spellings of places in the white world. We're in no danger that "Florence" or "Germany" will disappear from the AP stylebook to be replaced by baffling references to "Firenze" and "Deutschland."

This is further shown by news-readers on the big networks and NPR who fall all over themselves trying for authentic Spanish pronunciations of Meh-hee-co and Nee-cah-dah-guwa. I always thought it would be funny if they did it with Irish names and places.

Ed Campion said...

There is an astounding anti-PC show currently playing on the History Channel called "Journey to 10,000 BC".

Not B.C.E.? Wow!

James Kabala said...

One of the anonymuses above is right that nations like India that have English as an official language present a special case. If a city in England or Australia insisted on changing its name, American media would surely follow. That doesn't make it any less annoying, however.

Oecumenical Volgi: I suspect most American media were too dumb to have heard of Turin/Torino before. I doubt anyone would dare to introduce Roma or Firenze or Munchen. One never knows, however.

VoodooMan said...

Who remembers the Battle of Volgograd, or the Siege of St. Petersburg?

Rob said...

Steve,
What would Rudyard Kipling call it? Hummmmm. I think he'd prefer Bombay, but then again, that would be his "burden", wouldn't it. LOL

brobin said...

I wondered why the reporters kept calling it "Mumbaiindia". I thought it was an Indian city I hadn't heard of. Finally, someone told me it was Bombay. Oohhh.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

the official english name was changed in india from bombay to mumbai and western newspapers are just respecting that.

And yet, the official names, in their own languages, of places like Muenchen, Koeln, Warshawa, Moskva, Roma, Venezia, and Praga, are dispensed with in favor of Munich, Cologne, Warsaw, Moscow, Rome, Venice, and Prague. So why is that? And, with respect, why should we care overly much which "English" name they pick for their city. They may have adopted it as their official language, but it's still OUR language.

Also, am I the only one that finds the media's obsessive focus on the Rabbi and his wife and the two American sshram tourists unseemly? Dozens of indians were killed in these attacks, many of them killed while trying to defeat these terrorist swine and protect the lives of western visitors. And afterall, the attack was leveled at them - India - and took place in their country. A little show of interest in the Indian angle to this Indian news story would fitting, wouldn't it?

And my respects to the Indian government for taking the right tack with regard to these terrorists too - extermination, not negotiation.

Kai Carver said...

We're in no danger that "Florence" or "Germany" will disappear from the AP stylebook to be replaced by baffling references to "Firenze" and "Deutschland."

Actually, if you use Google Maps, prepare to be baffled:
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Germany

I may have a slightly serious, if obvious, point here: what some lament as creeping PC extremism is often caused by widening and more global audiences.

For example, it's just not smart to make questionable ethnic (or sexist, etc.) jokes when representatives of the groups in question might well be across the table from you or reading what you write, something Americans generally discovered before Europeans, sorry, Ευρωπαίων.

Anonymous said...

Huh? Do people get confused if you refer to Sri Lanka, Thailand and Zimbabwe instead of Ceylon, Siam and Ehodesia? - Ali

No - though Im sure some do but its easier to keep track of one country. Umpteen cities is more difficult.

A few years ago when the BBC started using Mumbai instead of Bombay. Initially I was confused like many others. I assumed it was a different city.

I then tried an unscientific experiment amongst people I worked with.

Q: Have you heard of Bombay?

A: Mostly yes.

Q: Did you know it was in India?

A: Mostly yes.

Q: Have you heard of Mumbai?

A: Mostly no.

Q: Did you know it was in India?

A: Pretty well all no.

Q: Did you know they were the same place?

A: All no.

If one does a search on Bombay and Mumbai, Bombay still gets a lot of hits. The thing to note is that many Indians still call it Bombay.

In the last day or so Ive heard a BBC interviewer insist on Mumbai while the Indian guy they were talking to happily talked about Bombay. Not the first time Ive witnessed that on the BBC either!

the official english name was changed in india from bombay to mumbai and western newspapers are just respecting that

Sorry, not buying that. As Steve points out; we are happy to use anglo versions of non-english speaking white cities/countries. Why not apply that elsewhere.

nsam said...

The Times of London still uses Bombay. Some institutions in the city still use it.. Indian Institute of Technology, for example.

Anonymous said...

that's all you have to say Steve?

That's all you have to comment about Muslims waging war again at this scale?

AlanL said...

You might enjoy, then, this article in which a native speaker of Konkani - the language of the coastal province in which Bombay/Mumabi was founded - argues that "Bombay" *is* the orginal name of the city (from the Briitsh pronunciation of Portugese "Bon Bahia", "good harbor", apparently) and "Mumbai" is a linguistic power grab by Marathi-speaking interlopers from the hinterland.

Marathi speakers are a majority in the state of Maharashtra where Bombay/Mumbai is situated, Konkani speakers apparently a sensitive minority.

Doctor Hindoostan said...

Definitely the cringing whites always seeking to one-up fellow whites by using "Mumbai" over "Bombay" (or whatever else) are a good laugh. Personally, everyone I know prefers the pre-Aryan "Mumblyjoe" to either of these terms.

Sometimes, when experiencing homesickness for an era the likes of which we'll never experience again, I like to think about Mexican Hat, Utah. There are some rocks there. To the men who settled the area, the rocks didn't look like a sombrero. They looked like a Mexican hat.

AC said...

I'm still bitter about Constantinople.

Argent Paladin said...

How can a country change the "Engilsh pronunciation" of its cities? Can we decree than New York must be refered to as New York and not as "Nueva York"? But that would be insensitive. I say you let the native speakers of the receptor language decide on the proper transliteration system. Should we tell Russians how to pronounce Hawai'i? (They pronounce it "Gawaii")
I suppose India is a bit of an exceptional case since English is an official language and so we should give great weight to their official English name. But as far as China (or Burma) goes, we should not let them influence they system we use.
And I agree with Steve that it is mainly about white status. I'm better than you because I say Pakistan with broad a's and I say Qatar and Iraq with the proper Arabic flourishes. Not to mention Nicaragua.

Anonymous said...

To be consistent, we should start calling the Indian film capital Mollywood. - Jean Raspail

Nice one! I tried emailing various departments of the BBC that used Bollywood, pointing out that if they won't use Bombay they can't have Bollywood.

Those that bothered to reply said, more or less, that Bollywood was a well understood term and it would silly to change it.

Useless to point out that Bombay fulfills exactly the same criteria and as the name dates from the 1700s it beats the movie industry by a mile.

Blackboard said...

There have been lots of crazy name changes throughout history for various reasons. South Central L.A. to South L.A. Jewfish to Goliath grouper. Frankfurter to hotdog. Evil Neocon to testing99. We'll just have to eat our Freedom fries and victory cabbage and accept this.

Anonymous said...

Lazy Americans, how much effort does it take to find out Bumbai=Bombay? It doesn't matter it is called Bombay or Bumbai. Most Americans don't know where the hell it is anyway. Thus, "Terrorists strike in Indian city" is the headline.

Anonymous said...

"Not B.C.E.? Wow!"

That's a funny comment. BCE is pure culture war..."before common era"? The term "common" isn't even coherent.

I noticed also on the wiki clovis people page link that BP or B.P. meaning "before present" is used a lot...probably as another way to avoid the low status signals given off by usage of flyover country sounding BC.

And notice that on the CIA Factbook pages they are going strictly metric system now. Not even standard system measurement conversions in paranthesis are available for the American proles on their own USA page.

The western nations and even the USA are in the grip of globalist turds.

Anonymous said...

Well, this beats the relentless Obama focus, at least. But I'd like to see Steve get back to his roots by looking at more of the big news stories through the human bioversity lens. Example: is Laurent Nkunda's tiny little army taking on and defeating all comers in the Congo because its Banyamulenge recruits are inherently sharper and more disciplined than their Bantu neighbors (who even when in uniform act more like marauding street gangs than military forces), or is it because the dairy products they live on make them peppier and smarter (Nkunda boasts that his soldiers are fed from cheese grown on his family's dairy farm.)

Readers can get conservative opinion anywhere-- it's the speculative anthropology and 1920s colonialist-style fascination with human difference and the tribes of the world that makes this site so delightful to read.

Mr. Anon said...

"Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

This is further shown by news-readers on the big networks and NPR who fall all over themselves trying for authentic Spanish pronunciations of Meh-hee-co and Nee-cah-dah-guwa. I always thought it would be funny if they did it with Irish names and places."

Yeah, that's one of my pet peaves too. The way they trip over their anglophone tongues trying to roll those spanish r's in Nee-cah-rah-gua. Why don't they bring comparable gusto to their pronunciation of "Zurich" or "Aberdeen".

" Anonymous said...

My eyes usually glaze over when I try to read evil neocon but this caught my eye.

"Most of Bombay was surprised there was even a Lubavitcher center in their city, so low key and hidden it was, which points to thorough work by professionals, not raving wild eyed amateurs."

Or maybe they knew how to use the Google?"

Yeah, these guys are Testing99's worst nightmare - they have speedboats AND they know how to use Mapquest. Our world will never be the same.

miss marple said...

Let's see. According to Wikipedia, Bombay/Mumbai has experienced previous violent attacks by terrorists:

1993 300 killed by Islamic terrorists & local thugs

2006 200 killed in train bombings

And sporadic assaults by Islamic terrorists on buses.

The Kashmir region is another site of frequent Islamic terrorist attacks.

Elsewhere, Hindu Nationalists are prone to acts of violence against Christians.

Wikipedia has entries for both religious violence and caste-related violence in India.

The attacks of this week seem to be unique because they included westerners.

David said...

Anon. said

That's all you have to say Steve?

That's all you have to comment about Muslims waging war again at this scale?


Steve has told us a million times he writes only about what other people aren't writing about. He tries to find something unique to say, playing to his talents in statistics, Human Biodiversity, etc.

Everyone is the media is wailing about the terrorist angle. If you want to join a choir singing from an identical hymnal, leave and read those clones.

Lawful Neutral said...

I worked in Pune, which is about a hundred miles from Bombay, a couple years ago, and everyone there referred to the city as "Bombay" when speaking English. Everyone. I said "Mumbai" at first, but I quickly knocked it off because I didn't want to sound like some high-falutin', pedantic jackass.

It's all about status: it's an easy way to tell the in-group from the out-group. You can see the same thing going on with Apatosaurus/Brontosaurus and A.D./C.E. How irritating and counterproductive to change a perfectly serviceable term that everyone knows to a more "accurate" term known only to the cognoscenti.

Michael T said...

So yes, when the natives change the name of a country or city, even for weird reasons, why not use the new name?

Personally? Because I enjoy being insensitive. Kampuchea instead of Cambodia for a long time could be counted on to ruffle feathers, for example.

As far as calling Germany "Deutschland" goes, I can't see that happening any time soon. (Shivers ran down my spine just typing it.)

And we might ask how the "English" versions of various place names got so confused to begin with. For example, Firenze has always been called Firenze by Italians, but for some reason British mapmakers started calling it Florence. Why? Same with Torino/Turin, Roma/Rome, and so forth. Either the Brits didn't listen well, or were too lazy to find out what the real names were.

My understanding is they got the names off the French. Turin is the French for Torino, for example (but is pronounced Tewran).

Also, am I the only one that finds the media's obsessive focus on the Rabbi and his wife and the two American sshram tourists unseemly? Dozens of indians were killed in these attacks, many of them killed while trying to defeat these terrorist swine and protect the lives of western visitors. And afterall, the attack was leveled at them - India - and took place in their country. A little show of interest in the Indian angle to this Indian news story would fitting, wouldn't it?


Muslims and Hindoos are forever killing each other there. It's only interesting when western foreigners get caught up in it. Frankly, that's as far as my interest in it extends.

Lazy Americans, how much effort does it take to find out Bumbai=Bombay? It doesn't matter it is called Bombay or Bumbai.

Haha. Calling it "Mumbai" was only an orthographic change. To Indians, it's obviously, as can be seen from the above, pronounced much the same way. (Try saying it with an Indian accent to understand how.)

In contrast, St.Petersburg and Volgograd were changes in toponyms (a reversion, in both cases).

Anonymous said...

"I also still call Peking Peking, much to the chagrin of Orientals I know"

The name technically never changed. The Chinese just adopted another standard for transliterating Chinese into English.

The Reticulator said...

We need to be offended by the imperialistic implications of the way the French pronounce New Orleans. We also need to be offended by the way the French, the Russians, and others say The United States.

Anonymous said...

Lazy Americans, how much effort does it take to find out Bumbai=Bombay? It doesn't matter it is called Bombay or Bumbai

Bumbai! Comedy gold!

You were joking right?

i am the walrus said...

"Steve has told us a million times he writes only about what other people aren't writing about."

True, but no one in the media is talking about how, according to the lone surviving terrorist, the plan was to target whites.

David Davenport said...

Should we tell Russians how to pronounce Hawai'i? (They pronounce it "Gawaii")

Rooskies also pronounce "Hitler" as "Gitler."

Russian language has no "h" sound, although their alphabet has thirty-two characters.

Ann Achronism said...

For the 'anonymous' commenters who think the names of 'Turin' and 'Florence' are the evidence of English or American laziness and ignorance, the standard English names actually come from the original Roman names, for example, "Florentia".

The English names are based not on ignorance or laziness but on a knowledge of Latin.

I wonder why we are so quick to put ourselves and our own down these days, rather than find out the facts?

Anonymous said...

Turin is the French for Torino, for example (but is pronounced Tewran).

Actually, Turin is the way locals in the city and region's Italian dialect (Piedmontese) call it, but Torino is the city's name in the dialect (Tuscan) that, for complicated reasons, was determined at Unification in the 19th c. to be the "standard" Italian.

Anonymous said...

It gets even better in the audiovisual media. During the election, when Obama's grandmother fell ill, I recall hearing a report on NPR news about it. The reporter, whose last name was Chinese, insisted on using native pronunciations for both Hawaii and Honolulu, so that each came out sounding like "Huhveh" and "Ho'luhlu". And this was in describing places that are, at least nominally, part of the United States. The sum effect was, I'm sure, to thoroughly confuse at least half of the listeners. Then again, this was NPR, among whose common audience such things are probably often celebrated.

It's only too appropriate that political correctness should at last have erected its own Tower of Babel.

BKH2007 said...

"Intellectuals tend to go in for self-righteous enthusiasms, and it is they (as well as politicians) who lie behind the BAD idea of changing the names of their countries from time to time, making the study of history and geography more difficult than necessary. It is they who decide that Ceylon should now be known as Sri Lanka, Rhodesia as Zimbabwe, and Upper Volta as Burkina Faso. They are the ones lurking behind such BAD ideas as changing Sixth Avenue to 'Avenue of the Americas.'"--Paul Fussell, "BAD Ideas," BAD: Or, the Dumbing of America (New York: Summit, 1991).

Incidentally, I can't recommend this book enough.

PKPK said...

Speaking of usage, if you're going to use the silly term "White" to describe Europic people, you might as well capitalize the "W."

Argent Paladin said...

My favorite is "Gamlet" instead of "Hamlet." I think that Chamlet (with the gutteral 'ch' as in 'loch' or 'Bach' is more accurate. Can we tell the Russians that? Or just keeping it silent. I mean, "Gamlet"? Really?
And what if at the 1972 Olympics, the newspapers suddenly started writing about "Muenchen" rather than Munich?
Finally, should the media speak with a Southern drawl when referring to, say, Atlanta or Savannah? Or a Boston accent when talking about Hahvad Yahd? I guess there is some division over how to pronounce New Orleans.

albertosaurus said...

In a few years this kind of problem will be incomprehensible to most educated people. Alas in our primitive state of development we still have multiple languages. This sorry state is changing rapidly but we still have in Europe alone a dozen different words for the object "chair". I'm informed that New Quinea has something like 3,000 different languages. Fortunately they never developed the chair.

This whole Mumbai - Bombay problem will emerge again when we get around to phasing out the French language. There are all those cheeses.

I am reminded of a song:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istanbul_(Not_Constantinople).

The media always weeps when some ninety year old woman dies who was the last speaker of some obscure language. When I hear these stories I always wonder who the hell she had been talking to if she was the only one?

Koos said...

In line with most post-colonial countries India was also daft enough to rename one of its better known cities. When landing there I was told this is Mumbai and only after some Indian person said it's Bombay did it make sense.

I cannot understand this child-like obsession that post-colonial regimes in Asia and Africa have to rename everything connected with the British or other empires. One would think that they are proud to have become the successors to those glorious empires, but instead revert to inventing names which never existed before and mean nothing.

And b.t.w. Turth, Zimbabwe is still known to me any many of my ilk as Rhodesia and always will. At least Rhodesia was a country to be proud of. Ian Smith did not have to keep out Jimmy Carter because he might be shocked by the Cholera epidemic and the general rot, something not known in Rhodesia which had a functioning infrastructure in spite of sanctions. Under another black messiah (Bob) we got a collapsed infrastructure. And this in spite of 28 years of having their backsides plastered with aid money.

koos said...

Thras said...
" ... Bombay sounded too British, and there was some invented history about the name Mumbai. "

You got the “invented” part right. Most of the post-colonial narrative is invented. Its real reason is to obfuscate the fact that these countries were better off under colonial rule. The new regimes don't want that competition from before, and to prevent ordinary people to say things like is happening in Zimbabwe and South Africa, where a majority of blacks now concede life was better under Ian Smith and Apartheid respectively. This kind of thing just wildly humiliates black nationalists and their groupies like "Truth".

Anonymous said...

the official english name was changed in india from bombay to mumbai and western newspapers are just respecting that

I don't respect it, and it will always be Bombay to me.

I still frequently call Beijing Peking. Why not?

Because you should call it Peiping!

Pissed Off Chinaman said...

Steve,

The change from Peking to Beijing is not about enforcing PC standards on white America. The reason for the change in spelling is because pinyin is a more accurate reflection of the romanization of the Chinese language than Wade-Giles. Western Imperialism has nothing to do with it. No offense but this is one of your more paranoid and retarded arguments (though I normally disagree with you, I've always respected your intellect.) I'm suprised at you Steve, I really am.

headache said...

"1920s colonialist-style fascination with human difference and the tribes of the world that makes this site so delightful to read."

Yea, those pesky racist colonialists knew a thing or two which we are no longer allowed to think. I often wonder what a hardy 1900's Rhodesian would think of our effeminate PC groupthink. Those guys simply could not afford such shit. They were too busy fighting off lions and marauders, and trying to sty away from malaria etc. to have time for such nonsense.

dearieme said...

I trust that the media, especially those outfits based in New Amsterdam and Londonwick, will all start pronouncing Edinburgh by its classical Scots "Embroch". Eh? Eh?

Anonymous said...


When I hear these stories I always wonder who the hell she had been talking to if she was the only one?


Women don't need anyone to talk to!

Truth said...

"When I hear these stories I always wonder who the hell she had been talking to if she was the only one?"

She had no shortage of mid-twenties, Ivy-educated, Massachusetts SWPL types who made it their mission to learn it; and subsequently began to haughtily correct her grammar.

Doctor Hindoostan said...

"...it's the speculative anthropology and 1920s colonialist-style fascination with human difference and the tribes of the world that makes this site so delightful to read."

Heartily agree with you, anonymous, and kudos to Sailer for fostering that environment. So here's something along those lines: Years ago, when visiting Mumblyjoe and strolling through the lobby of the Taj, I was struck by a guidebook photo of J.R.D. Tata, the 1/2 French, 1/2 Parsee descendant of the hotel's founder -to me he looked weirdly like Walt Disney. Even some of the earlier, non-French mix Tatas, whose ancestors had fled Persia centuries prior, could "pass" for European (though, admittedly, this may have been an affectation on the part of their portrait painters).

BTW, the founder of the Taj (a drop in the bucket when compared to the Tata family's other concerns), Jamsetji Tata, was described as "...unit[ing] the daring courage of the American captain of industry with the German passion for details; and it is probable that he caught, during his many visits to that country (Germany), something of the spirit which has made modern Japan great among the powers".

I put in that last because there's some guy on the board who can't even write "Deutschland" without "shivering". Ugh. And we wonder why we're being pushed off the globe.

Anonymous said...

"according to the lone surviving terrorist, the plan was to target whites."

Thanks for the link to dailymail.co.uk. Every time I visit that tabloid "newspaper" I want to target whites too.

The right side gossip column labeled FEMALE TODAY of the Daily Mail (that apparently loads on every web page at their site) is grounds for wiping Britain off the map.

UK matriarchal death spiral nihilism is revolting. They really do need to be put out of their misery.

Getting old said...

On a marginally related note, during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings all the newscasters changed the way they pronounced sexual harassment, from harASSment (the way it had theretofore always been pronounced in America) to HARessment). I particularly remember that earnest mush-mouth Tom Brokaw doing this. Apparently it was unbearable to use a word containing a sound replicating the word ASS, particularly since Anita Hill was steatopygous.

Truth said...

"On a marginally related note,"

That was marginally related...To the same degree and Amoeba is related to an elephant.

zero said...

where were the 2006 winter olympics held? were they held in turin or torino? torino, and that's where this article is wrong

James Kabala said...

Albertosaurus: I think they mean last native speaker; by adulthood, obviously, such people are forced to communicate in a different language for day-to-day purposes.

Anonymous said...

"I'm still bitter about Constantinople."

You're not the only one. I remember a map in a Greek station that very PC-ly used local for every European country and city - Deutschland, Norge, Roma, etc. - except in the case of Konstantinopolis.

As for Mumbai/Bombay, Google's top-ranking Indian blog (http://indiauncut.com) uses both names pretty much promiscuously. I get a sense that he tries to use Mumbai but lapses into Bombay when he'd writing naturally.

intellectual pariah

Anonymous said...

"That was marginally related...To the same degree and Amoeba is related to an elephant."

I detect racism in your capitalization of Amoeba and refusal to capitalize elephant. Are you prejudiced in favor of one-celled organisms?

Jim O'Sullivan said...

I thought that was Milano, not Turino. But it never caught on anyway.

Anonymous said...

It's good to see that isteve readers strongly reject any suggestion that this might be a serious incident of some sort. Only evil neocon could be concerned about such a trivial event.

Polistra said...

Another silly example is our insistence on honoring the dictatorial gov't of Burma by calling it Myanmar. Newscasters universally say

"MyanmarFormerlyKnownAsBurma".

Why in the world do they waste all the extra syllables if they're going to say Burma anyway?

Anonymous said...

"Also, am I the only one that finds the media's obsessive focus on the Rabbi and his wife and the two American sshram tourists unseemly? Dozens of indians were killed in these attacks, many of them killed while trying to defeat these terrorist swine and protect the lives of western visitors. And afterall, the attack was leveled at them - India - and took place in their country. A little show of interest in the Indian angle to this Indian news story would fitting, wouldn't it?"

I've seen plenty written about the impact on Indians of this horrific series of attacks, given that it targeted the business and cultural capital of their country. The focus on the American, British and Jewish victims in the Western press isn't surprising though, considering that the terrorists deliberately targeted Americans, Britons and Jews.

- Fred

Anonymous said...

"Not B.C.E.? Wow!"

LOL. Yeah, funny how those PC types don't even realize how presumptuous the term is. At least "Before Christ" specifically acknowledges which civilizational event is being used as the reference date.

But "Before the Common Era" presumes that Chinese, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim civilizations all share the same reference date--the supposed birth year of Jesus Christ. Isn't it blatant cultural imperialism to presume such a thing?

How culturally insensitive and downright racist of those PC types! Don't other calendrical systems deserve respect? What happened to the PC types' appreciation for cultural diversity, eh?

I think it's high time that people who use the implicitly racist term "B.C.E." forcibly attend re-education seminars so that they can come to grips with their unconscious racism and spend the rest of their lives making amends for their thoughtcrimes.

anony-mouse said...

What happens if the newer description is more accurate? For example the traditional 'Sea of Galilee' and the newer 'Lake Kinneret'.

The Tengriist said...

Anonymous: "Example: is Laurent Nkunda's tiny little army taking on and defeating all comers in the Congo because its Banyamulenge recruits are inherently sharper and more disciplined than their Bantu neighbors... or is it because the dairy products they live on make them peppier and smarter..."

Is there really a dichotomy? Quoth Agrippa (Dodona readers are permitted to groan at this point): "Progressive herder-warriors with Europiform tendencies."

Anonymous said...

Mumbai comes from the roots ‘Mumba Ai’. Mumba is the name of the goddess whose temple existed after which the place was known before the Europeans (Portuguese and British) came. ‘Ai’ means mother in the local Marathi language and hence Mumbai in Marathi. The city was first conquered by the Portuguese and given as a dowry to the British crown when some Portuguese princess married Charles I of England who leased the land to the East India Company. That is when the city was named Bombay.
Several south Asian cities are named after goddesses and their temples. Calcutta is named after the goddess Kali and Dhaka, the capital of the Islamic nation of Bangladesh is named after a Hindu goddess Dhakeshwari!

Anyways it seems like it is only English which is unfairly targeted in such a way. Calling Mumbai by its Anglo name Bombay even when speaking in English can bring a frown in the face of local Marathi Shiv Sena nationalists however the Hindi word for the city ‘Bambai’ remains untouched. I believe that even if the official name has been changed to Mumbai, one should be able to use Bombay when speaking the English language just as a Hindi speaker is allowed the use of Bambai.

Besides the city is what it is today because of its importance to the British. Had the British not come to this place, Bombay would have been a fishing village. It was the Brits who joined the seven islands to make up the city’s landmass and developed the city from scratch. The central part of Bombay called VT or Victoria Terminus (now renamed I believe) is full of gorgeous British colonial architecture. Before Bombay, it was the nearby city of Poona (renamed Pune by the same Marathi nationalist nuts) which was the major city of the region.

Anonymous said...

Anon said:


"I still frequently call Beijing Peking. Why not?"

Because you should call it Peiping!


Hmmm, only if you accept the older name or the name that the Nationalists gave it.

CJ said...

On a marginally related note, during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings all the newscasters changed the way they pronounced sexual harassment, from harASSment (the way it had theretofore always been pronounced in America) to HARessment). "

You reminded me of how the planet pronounced "your-anus" for the first 30-odd years of my life (and everybody pronounced it that way, to the degree that it became the basis of the well-known Star Trek one-liner about "circling your anus looking for Klingons") suddenly became "yoor-ah-nuss" on news television and radio when a NASA space probe flew past. That didn't stop late-night comedians gibing about probes approaching your anus, but the planet has been yoor-ah-nuss for the politically correct ever since.

Reg Cæsar said...

The reason for the change in spelling [of Peking] is because pinyin is a more accurate reflection of the romanization of the Chinese language than Wade-Giles.-- PO'd Chinaman

"Peking" (or "Peiping") wasn't "Chinese language". It was the English-language name of the place.

Chris Patten, last governor of colonial Hong Kong, refused to say "Beijing", because, as he put it, we already have an name in English for the capital of China. (Or Cathay, if you will.)

One reason (among several) I refuse to say "Beijing" is because it's impossible for a Westerner to pronounce. Maybe a Slav could-- the B is really an unaspirated P, as in French, Finnish or Russian. The J is something like the GY in Hungarian (e.g., "Magyar", "Nagy"), though you might fake it with the GD from the Russian gde ("where").

But even if you got all the phonemes right, there's still that tonal business!

So anyone who "corrects" my use of "Peking" is asking for a lecture in comparative phonology. And will have it coming.

Reg Cæsar said...

You reminded me of how the planet pronounced "your-anus"... suddenly became "yoor-ah-nuss" on news television and radio when a NASA space probe flew past. --CJ

"Urine-ous" is hardly an improvement over "your anus". But it's probably closer to the original (ancient) Greek, so I won't complain. Things sound more civilized when stressed on the antepenultimate rather than penultimate syllable.

Now, "Afghani", that's a "word" that's actionable. "Wanna buy my Afghani rug? It'll look great under your Afghani hound!"

Seamus said...

In contrast, St.Petersburg and Volgograd were changes in toponyms (a reversion, in both cases).

Actually, only the first was a reversion. When Stalingrad was renamed, the Soviets didn't want to revert to the original name, Tsaritsyn, so they came up with the new name of Volgograd.

Seamus said...

The change from Peking to Beijing is not about enforcing PC standards on white America. The reason for the change in spelling is because pinyin is a more accurate reflection of the romanization of the Chinese language than Wade-Giles.

John Derbyshire reports that the Chinese use the name Niujin to refer to what we English speakers call the city of Oxford. If they can transform the names of our cities when speaking their language, then we should be able to do the same when speaking in English about their cities.

Truth said...

"Are you prejudiced in favor of one-celled organisms?"

Yeah, you got me, kind of like when Steve took the Gladwell racial affinity test and it showed that he deep down inside loves blacks, I have a special place in my heart for Lucius Vorenus and Testing99.

I'm hard on you guys because I want you to be fruitful and divide!

Pissed Off Chinese American said...

Seamus,

Beijing is a transformation of one of their cities into our language. In fact, most WESTERN China scholars consider it more accurate and hence the use of pinyin rather than Wade Giles.

PS. Reg you still around?

PPS. I changed my moniker to be more politically correct.

PPPS. I still maintain Steve that this is one of your dumber arguments. If Mumbai becomes the more popularized pronunciation it is because Western media and academia will make it so.

Anonymous said...

"The focus on the American, British and Jewish victims in the Western press..."

That's odd. I thought the rebbe was American. Oh well. Time's around the corner when I get double national terms for myself.

Also, it struck me that testing99 and his single supporter have performed a role on this thread similar to something I recently read about:

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2008/11/canadian-university-pays-busybodies-to.html

Anonymous said...

"I thought the rebbe was American."

Do you doubt that he was targeted as a Jew? Not that you would care, but apparently he and his wife were singled out for special torture before being killed.

Oops, sorry to be a p.c. busybody enforcer! I must learn to shut up in the future. (But wait, that would make you the enforcer...)

Michael T said...

It's good to see that isteve readers strongly reject any suggestion that this might be a serious incident of some sort. Only evil neocon could be concerned about such a trivial event.


See how easy isolationism is? Hindoos and Mohammedans going at it again? Yawn. Pallies and Hebrews? Yawn. Tooties and Hooters? Yawn.

Seamus said...

Beijing is a transformation of one of their cities into our language. In fact, most WESTERN China scholars consider it more accurate and hence the use of pinyin rather than Wade Giles.

Big deal. Who determined that we should use an accurate transliteration of the Chinese name of the city, anyway? And if there is such a rule, why doesn't it apply to the Chinese names of English cities, such as Oxford/Niujin?

koos said...

Michael T said...

"See how easy isolationism is?"

Good one! Proves the point. Now if only our western borders were closed to members of all these warrring parties...

Jean Raspail said...

The most worrisome aspect of all this is the rapid proliferation of subcontinental newsreaders. Soon the question of what to call Bombay might be moot, as it will be decided by a critical mass of imported Indian talking heads. I didn't mind Daljit Daliwal when she was a novelty, but in retrospect she is simply the leading edge of a massive invasion. And I don't care what anyone says, she (and her ilk) are not English, that's for sure.

Ronduck said...

I just went for an X-ray and the machine was made by Siemens in Germany. The address on the X-ray machine said Muenchen instead of Munich. It seems that the Germans prefer that their cities' names be pronounced their way, instead of ours.

MorrisMinor said...

I am usually geographically savvy but this Mumbai did throw me for a minute. What is the problem with India wanting to Indianize or restore older names from the British. The real PC outrage is leaving out the "Muslim terrorist as usual" part. As far as the old Peking versus the newer Beijing, the transliterations now used are closer to Chinese than the traditional ones, so that is good. But all Chinese restaurants still use Peking duck or Canton chicken instead of the more accurate transliterations.

Noumenon said...

Slate indicates that Indians renamed it themselves, so you may be blaming this on Western elites reflexively.

BK said...

Yeah, those liberal news media people based in New Amsterdam and Londonium are way too trendy, using new names for cities. How dare they.

Seamus said...

The address on the X-ray machine said Muenchen instead of Munich. It seems that the Germans prefer that their cities' names be pronounced their way, instead of ours.

If by "address," you meant the way to get in touch with the manufacturer, then it's not surprising that you'd want to use the form that would best enable the postal authorities in Germany to get your letter to its destination. I'll bet that even the Chinese say "Oxford" rather than "Niujin" when they're addressing a letter. (And they probably use Roman characters, not Chinese ideographs, to do it.)

Michael T said...

Yeah, those liberal news media people based in New Amsterdam and Londonium are way too trendy, using new names for cities. How dare they.


Touche.

I'm still miffed they dropped Lutetia myself.

Jokes aside, it's the reason for why names are dropped rather than the fact that they are which annoys people. Bombay forever!

Anonymous said...

To be consistent, we should start calling the Indian film capital Mollywood.

Mollywood is taken by the Malayalam film industry. Besides Bollywood is not the Indian film industry, it's merely the Hindi language film industry. To be accurate it should be called Hillywood or some such variant.

Mollywood:
http://keralaonline.com/entertainment/nayanthara-mollywood_13929.html

Ollywood:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinema_of_Orissa

Pollywood:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinema_of_Punjab

Tollywood:
http://www.tollywoodstreet.com/

Kollywood:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamil_cinema