Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In English There is No City Named Pair-ee

There is a city in English named Paris, but not one pronounced Pair-ee. Likewise there is no country in English called Deutschland, but there is a country called Germany.

My point is that I am getting sick of hearing on the radio and reading on the net about an alleged city named Yangon in an alleged country named Myanmar In the English tongue these are known as Rangoon and Burma respectively.

Now some might ask if I am not being narrow minded and parochial. After all, they might argue, it is their country and they can name their cities whatever they like. I agree they have every right to name their cities what ever they like in Burmese, because it is their country. However English is our language and they do not have a right to change it.

This is not just about English, it is true of other languages as well. For example in Spanish there is no city called New York, but there is a city called Nueva York. In French there is no city called London, but there is one called Londres. In Latin there is no city called York, but there is a city call Eboracum.

Granted that if the Burmese people rather than a dictatorship wanted to change the name of their country, then perhaps we could butcher the new name into English and stop calling it Burma, though we might not. But the idea that we should change the English Language for a bunch of third world tin pot dictators is beyond absurd.

A proper use of the English language ought to be a requirement for journalists who report in the English tongue. American reporters who are assigned overseas ought to have the backbone not to pander to the wishes of a military dictatorship.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I agree with you.