Monday, December 1, 2008

Istanbul Was Constantinople...

Astute readers in the last few days may have noted my pedantic insistence on Bombay over the seemingly preferred "Mumbai". Aside from a simply stodgy contrarian's dislike of changing names of things, I'm not exactly a big fan of the politics behind "Mumbai". See, this change isn't just a de-colonialization like "Kolkata" for Calcutta or "Bengalooru" for Bangalore (which, while I find unnecessary and somewhat silly, I don't really take any particular issue with). Bombay was created by Europeans. It was at best a handful of fishing villages when the Portuguese mapped it with the note "good harbor", later Anglicized to Bombay, under which name it became a major colonial trading port. The attempt by Hindu nationalist politicians to enforce the use of "Mumbai" just doesn't sit right with me, or with most of her citizens who blithely still call the city "Bombay" when speaking English.

1 comment:

Shane said...

What's stunning to me is that I didn't even notice that you were using "Bombay."

Trying to carve out a meaningful distinction between two different transliterations of a proper noun is for philosophy undergraduates, anyway. Screw it - call it what you want when you're speaking your native language unless there's a compelling reason not to.