December 20, 2009

The Name Game

Hugo Chavez has caught Western academia's renaming bug, turning his ire upon the world's most fortuitously perfect geographic name:
President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that the world's tallest waterfall has been called Angel Falls too long and should revert to its original indigenous name instead of commemorating the U.S. pilot who spotted it in 1933.

He called for renaming the Venezuelan falls Kerepakupai-Meru, saying during his weekly television program that Indians had a name for the majestic waterfall long before adventurer Jimmie Angel flew over it.

How can Venezuelans could accept the idea that "the highest waterfall in the world was discovered by a man who came from the United States in a plane?" Chavez asked. "We should change that name, right? With all respect to that man who came, who saw it."

Of course, most indigenous names are hard to spell and hard to remember:

He initially said the name should be Churun-Meru, but then corrected himself after receiving a note from his daughter Maria pointing out that the Pemon Indian name of the waterfall is Kerepakupai-Meru.

But, that's the point, isn't it? Being hard to remember means more chances to look down your noses at commoners who can't remember Kerepakupai-Meru.

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

33 comments:

Udolpho.com said...

I suppose the natural question is, when are they going to insist we call Germany "Deutschland" and Japan "Nippon" (although apparently some anime nerds already to the latter).

On the other hand, earnest liberals would probably start doing that just to spite you for asking a question that embarrassed them.

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes, great post.

Anonymous said...

thus the slide into anacronyms, it would be calld KF within a month.

Anonymous said...

So when will Mr Chavez change his name back to one more authentic, more indigenous?

Anonymous said...

Why not "Chavez Falls" ? Has a nice ring to it.

Anon.

Just Saying... said...

"call Germany "Deutschland" and Japan "Nippon" "

I've often wondered how place names get changed in translation to begin with, and often get so far removed from the native name.

Germany/Deutschland is a good example. I guess the former is from the Latin Germania, but then we're back to the start with why the Romans called it something the natives did not.

All explanations welcome.

Middletown Girl said...

Great idea. All the better to revive the indigeneous practice of human sacrifice where beautiful virgins were sacrificed to the waterfall god. I heard such took place at Niagara Falls when "Native Americans" ran things, so maybe Venezuelan Indians did much the same.
But for the sake of progressive politics Chavez champions all the time, let's lay off the beautiful virgins this time and balance things out by sacrificing ugly potbellied men for a change. Let's start with Hugo.

Steve Sailer said...

A lot of places and peoples are named by the tribe next door. A literate explorer asks Tribe X what's the name of Tribe Y who live east of the mountain range, and they say, "The Stzkayuuskomiqs," which is discovered, years later, to mean, "Subhuman dirtbags who live east of the mountains." So, he writes it down on his map and that's how it goes into the books.

Centuries later Tribe Y finds out about this and demands that their name be changed in all the books to what they call themselves, which 90% of the time translates to "The Only Genuine Human Beings, Unlike Those Subhuman Dirt Bags who Live West of the Mountains."

Middletown Girl said...

Speaking of the name game, didn't blacks have a cultural movement in the 60s and 70s of reclaiming their African name(or Muslim name in some cases)? I remember a black guy in an elevator in the late 70s who named his kid "Kotei". As things go, it wasn't such a bad thing as lots of African names and words have a nice sound to them.

Too bad the Name Game really got heated up in the black community in the 80s and 90s when every other black parent seem to be competing with one another to come up with the most ridiculous names for their kids.

The following spoof isn't far off. Black names have really really gotten stupid.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCdmiZyyGjQ

Gene Berman said...

The Pemon Indians who live in the vicinity of Angel Falls call it
"Ayan Tepui."

Curiously, there is a Pemon Indian alphabet, developed for them years ago by an American, a Baptist missionary from Texas named Jim Berryhill. Chavez' people (acting on complaints from French Jesuit neighbors) kicked him out about 25 years ago.

Fred said...

"Germany/Deutschland is a good example. I guess the former is from the Latin Germania, but then we're back to the start with why the Romans called it something the natives did not.

All explanations welcome."


Somewhat along the lines of Steve's explanation, the French name for Germany is Allemagne, which comes from the name of a Germanic tribe called the Allemani.

robert61 said...

In America or western Europe, dropping an English name for an opaque native polysyllable is a status opportunity for the educated. For Hugo Chavez, it's probably more a matter of being seen to stick it to the (Anglo) Man.

Whatever happened to anglicizing foreign names, anyway? It warms my heart to hear John Derbyshire pronounce "Latino" exactly the way you would if you had never heard the word before. And as long as we're on the subject, why do I have to call that dirtbag Hugo Chavez "Oogo" to prove I'm the news-watching kind of primate?

jimbo said...

On "Top Chef" this season, there was a minicontroversy at "Judge's Table" when the guest judge Toby Young (of "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People" fame), pronounced "paella" as "pie-ella". and then not only refused to be corrected, but had the temerity to ridicule the American judges for pronouncing it "pie-ay-ya", saying, "I mean, you don't say "Barthalona", do you?"

It was almost enough to make me tolerate his strained metaphors...

SGOTI said...

Oh boy. Soon we'll be hearing NPR hosts and TV news readers trying to say that nonsense instead of Angel Falls.

If there's anything SWPL like, it's pronouncing foreign names in the most exagerated foreign accents possible. They're like straight-faced, deadly sincere Inspector Clouseaus- just more bumbling.

Baloo said...

Here's some material on it:

Deutsch.

I've also heard that the Germans named themselves after a god called 'Teut,' but can't find anything on the net about it.

Gene Berman said...

Correction:

"Ayan Tepui" is the name of the plateau or mesa-like structure from which Angel Falls falls ("tepui" apparently being roughly equivalent to "mesa" or "butte").

(Just like them sneaky Injuns to have two different names for the same thing.) Speaking of which, those (Pemon) tribes inhabit an area not inhabited by humans until
their arrival in the 1500s, fleeing from the Spanish invading the coastal areas and islands.

Kylie said...

The Name Game is really just a variation of The Blame Game, hence its popularity with Western academia and Chavez.

I was just wondering the other day why it's acceptable to call the West the West but not to call the Orient the Orient. Well, I wasn't really wondering, more like making my mind up to start calling the Orient the Orient again, until such time as the West is routinely referred to as "Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand".

As for Hugo, I've decided just to call him "Chav" for short.

I will admit, as a student of [Castillian] Spanish, it drives me nuts to hear non-Spanish speakers mispronounce the words of such a beautiful language. But that's a matter of linguistic aesthetics, not political chauvinism (or chavinism).

blanco said...

I will say one thing for Hugo: unlike the feminized betas that pass for leftist "men" in North America and Europe, Chavez is a real man. A socialist thug? Yes. But a feminist? Hardly.

albertosaurus said...

Whatever anyone calls a waterfall doesn't bother me. In a couple months I will go to see the waterfalls at Yosemite. There are many more falls there than there are in Canaima park in Venezuela.

The falls at Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy are of course seasonal. Today in the middle of winter they probably are all dry or frozen. There used to be a "falls" at Yosemite composed of fire. The rangers would build a big wooden fire on one of the rims. The tourists would be gathered below and one of the park rangers would cry out for the "fire falls". The rangers at the top would push the burning logs over the edge.

They no longer do that, alas. But it illustrates the point that water falls are principally tourist attractions. If that is so and taller is better, maybe we should just send a stream of water from the top of El Capitan or Half Dome. As water projects go this wouldn't be particularly difficult. It would be an inconsequential part of the California water system and it would make the kiddies so happy.

Most people don't realize that Niagara Falls (a real waterfall)hasn't been a "natural" waterfall for decades. Most of the Niagara river water no longer goes over the falls anymore. The planners allow just enough to go over to maintain its tourist appeal.

A water fall over El Capitan could be turned on every morning and off every night - saving resources. You could finance the whole thing with the sale of bottled falls water. It should be well aerated after dropping a mile through the sky.

David said...

> Black names have really really gotten stupid. <

Cecretia was my favorite, until I recently met an Anoya. (Anoya contacted the law firm I'm connected with, asking if we were interested in taking her racial discrimination case.) Not joking.

Glossy said...

"Germany/Deutschland is a good example. I guess the former is from the Latin Germania, but then we're back to the start with why the Romans called it something the natives did not.

All explanations welcome."

1900 years ago Tacitus wrote in his work "Germania" that Germani was the name of a specific German tribe that the Romans encountered early on. He wrote that the Romans simply applied the name of this single tribe to all the tribes that looked and sounded similar to the Germani. He lists at least a couple dozen Germanic tribes in his treatise.

What did the Germans actually call themselves in Roman times? We can't be sure because although they were literate, they didn't write books. Runic iscriptions are rarely longer than a few sentences. By the time a substantial corpus of written material in German accumulated (8th century AD), they were definitelly calling themselves Theudisc. The modern words Deutsch and Dutch are directly descended from this "theudisc". This word is thought to descend from an Indo-European root meaning "people, tribe".

It's interesting that the earliest Germanic tribes that the Romans ever met (around 100 BC) were the Teutones and the Cimbri. The earliest mention of any Germans in any extant written source mentioned two tribes and one of them is called Teutones, a word obvously related to modern "Deutsch". It's possible (though unprovable) that Germans have been using that word to describe all speakers of Germanic since antiquity.

A few years ago there was a discussion on sci.lang about the form "theudisc" would have taken in modern English if English hadn't dropped it back in the Middle Ages. The consensus was that it would now be spelled "Theedish". "Dutch" was a late re-borrowing from the continent.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many broken shopping carts, rusted mufflers, and soggy couches lie at the bottom of Kerepakupai-Meru.

ricpic said...

If it was named Smith Falls or Jones Falls my reaction would be a shrug. But by sheer accident the pilot's name was Angel and Angel Falls "works" aesthetically. Not that brutal tough guy dictators ever have or ever will consider any such "pussy" factor when doing their machismo thing.

Eric said...

And as long as we're on the subject, why do I have to call that dirtbag Hugo Chavez "Oogo" to prove I'm the news-watching kind of primate?

Hear hear. In English it's pronounced hyu-go, damnit. I don't care how they say it in Venezuela.

Middletown Girl said...

"Cecretia was my favorite, until I recently met an Anoya. (Anoya contacted the law firm I'm connected with, asking if we were interested in taking her racial discrimination case.) Not joking."

---------

Maybe Anoya will name her daughters Irritacia and Frustracia.

MIddletown Girl said...

"And as long as we're on the subject, why do I have to call that dirtbag Hugo Chavez 'Oogo' to prove I'm the news-watching kind of primate?"


Hugo or Oogo looks kinda like Sluggo of the Nancy comic strips.

Lawful Neutral said...

Alas Steve, it's been this way since the mighty Apatosaurus roamed prehistoric Mumbai, Before the Commone Era.

Anonymous said...

Just to back up Toby, over here we routinely refer to 'paella', as 'pie-ella'. Its a standard British thing, not just Toby. I'm sure he knows the 'correct' pronunciation but I strongly suspect him of harbouring a delight in upsetting SWPL types.

Anonymous said...

What's with all the hate directed at Hugo Chavez? He does what's good for the majority of people in Venezuela, which is what he should do. If we only had politicians here who gave a rat's ass about the average, working class American, instead of the venal sellouts we're saddled with, it would represent a real breakthrough. Won't happen though, we wouldn't be capable of differentiating a real patriot from the slick imitations on offer.

Middletown Girl said...

"What's with all the hate directed at Hugo Chavez?"

We have our own Hugo, Obugo.

David said...

> Anoya <

She was well-spoken and polite (despite wanting to sue some poor soul for racial discrimination...); but just imagine her mom. I can hear it now. "I named her Anoya because she annoy-ya."

"Precious" is real.

Anonymous said...

Well, I wasn't really wondering, more like making my mind up to start calling the Orient the Orient again, until such time as the West is routinely referred to as "Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand".

Actually, one day very soon you won't be able to call the West the West because to do so would be to imply that the peple of America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are somehow biologically and culturally descended from Europe.

David said...

Udolpho said

> when are they going to insist we call Germany "Deutschland" and Japan "Nippon" [...] On the other hand, earnest liberals would probably start doing that just to spite you <

Wasn't it earnest libs who changed Deutschland and Nippon to Germany and Japan in the first place?