Posted: 14 December 2008 at 7:59pm | IP Logged
Being a history nerd, I probably could go to lengthy discussions and debates on kingdoms, independence, colonization and such....but I will focus on names.
I do not think by leaving the Anglicized names gives any undue credit to colonial rulers, at the same time nor does renaming them to Indianized versions take anything away from the history of a place.
For example even though today the City is Istanbul and we know it as the largest city in Turkey and a cultural seat of the Ottoman empire. From a historically perspective the modern factual history takes nothing away from Constantinople a classical representation of the glory of the Byzantine Empire. Here we see a completely different etymology for names. However, most inconsistencies in nomenclature are dimunitive.
Look up the map of Europe in Google Maps. Those unfamiliar with the Europe may even be confused by the names. What we call Spain, Germany, Sweden, Italy are correctly Espana, Deutschland, Sverige, Italia etc. We know them by their Anglisized names. Anglicized names are mostly dimunitives of the original names. Usually, because the original is difficult to spell or pronounce it is altared to the Anglo-Saxon phonetics. Locals use the correct spelling and pronuncialtion of these places, while the English speaking person uses the Anglicized names.
Except for a few, most Indian names are Anglicized dimunitives. For example Bombay was Bombay to English, Bumbai in Hindi and Mumbai in Marathi. Forcing everyone to refer to it as Mumbai is like Spain demanding that we stop calling their country Spain and use Espana instead. The name change is nothing cultural but grounded in an absurd sense of ego. It is not that Europeans are not proud of their culture and history, there is a difference between that pride and misplaced ego.
About renaming landmarks Gustave Eiffel was a famous German engineer. He built the Eiffel tower. It is due credit that a landmark built by a German be named after that German. During the WWII era when the French suffered under the Third Reich they did not choose to rename Eiffel because it was German.
Shivaji was not even alive when Victoria Terminus was built. Shivaji probably did not even know what a gargoyle was. I would place a bet that an emo kid is more goth than Shivaji ever could be. Clearly a landmark built by Victoria with gothic architecture that was popular in her time would make more sense to be named after her than a Maratha Emperor.
Similarly Flora Fountain was called so because of the Roman Goddess Flora in the center of the fountain. It was not even that Anglicized for crying out loud. The dimunitive was Fountain, referring to the fountain in the center of the area. How culturally neutral can you get calling a fountain-fountain. Would F have been better? You know have to call it Hutatma Chowk for a statue that is off center to the left that was erected in 1960 years after Flora's fountain in 1864. The fact that the name changed in 1960 and people in Bombay still call the place 'Fountain' is testament to the ridiculous nature of name change. For Christ's sake no one worships poor Flora anymore let her have her fountain. Thank God we do not have to call Fountain Pens, something like Chattrapati Shivaji Pen.
Speaking of the total ridiculous natue of name changes. Lets think of the whole (failed) American movement to rename French Fries to Freedom Fries, due to the anti-American stance of France specially after the Iraq war. It was a total mess of misplaced ego as well as history and etymology. Because French Fries are not French, they are Belgian...and best of all in France and some other places they are called Fritte Amerique, and most Europeans refer to them as American style chips/fries.
Speaking of names Alaska comes from Aleyaska (Russian) and Wisconsin is from Ouisconsin (French). And Oui is pronounced Wi, and Americans believe these places to be as American as can be. Sshhh no one tell them about Little Norway, New Berlin, New Glarus, Monticello, Verona, Ephraim, Cambridge or Brussels. They may have us change our towns to places that are more American.
While we are on names the 's' is silent in Illinois and Des Moines. There is no J sound in the Latin language. That hispanic boy is not Jesus. I mean he is Jesus but you say 'HeyZeus'. Baltic and Nordic tongues do not have a J sound too. Jessica, Johan and Julia from Sweden, Norway and Russia are Yessica, Yohan and Yulia.
But as Shakespeare said...whats in a name.