Tuesday, August 02, 2005


I have been getting quite a kick out of watching one of my pet peeves (I know, I have a lot of them) in full bloom this weekend. The flood story from Mumbai...or is it Bombay?

The PC Police are all a titter in the last half decade changing names and pronunciations all over the globe. Why change? Let the Indians (dot not feather) name their cities whatever they want, that doesn't mean the English speakers have to. If they want to call it Mumbai, great, we can still call it Bombay. On one radio report I heard them use both Mumbai and Bombay in the same sentence. I think ABC has confused themselves.

We still call Germany, Germany. The Spanish call it Alemania, the French L'Allemagne. The Germans call it Deutschland, but I don't see the MSM or anyone in the English speaking world, "Reporting live from the capital of Deutchland..."

This can go on forever. Livorno=Leghorn. Munchen=Munich. Peking=Bejing=Peiping...ad naseum.

Another manifestation of this is best seen, or really heard, at NPR. If there is a Spanish language city or name, they pronounce it like a Spanish speaker does. You never see Hong Kong pronounced like a Chinese would. You never hear of the "Munchen Conference" (in Bayern not Bavaria) or the "Treaty of Roma."

All this is a unintended manifestation of one of the not-well-hidden core beliefs of the Left; a hypocritical paternalism toward non-Western or non-First World cultures. "Europeans and Americans can handle a non-native pronouncing of their names, the Great Unwashed Primitives however must be treated with care and love. They might riot and eat us, you know."

This doesn't make me mad anymore, just makes me laugh. The best example was one late midwatch when we were listening to airline traffic on HF oceanic frequencies. A pilot with a Brit accent was updating his clearance with "Bombay," and the growing emphatic Indian kept replying as "Mumbai." I would love to by that pilot a beer.

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