Saturday, August 23, 2008

Angrez gaye, angrezi naam chod gaye! (The English left, but left behind English names)

Over the last 15 years, tremendous efforts have been made to get rid of anglicized names of cities adopted from the last 500 years.

While Shri Vasco Da Gama couldn't pronounce the retroflex in Kozhikode and called it Calicut, I wonder how the first native, who learnt to speak english, would have shuddered at reading Kollam as Quillon! Or for the matter reading Shiv as Sion!

A few of the names with Portuguese influence ended in "m". Bombaim, Panjim and Washim for example being substitues for Mumbai, Panaji and Vashi. Some ended in an unwanted "ein". Bassein for example, anglicized from Vasai.

The French were no far. I wonder where they could hear an "on" in Puducheri. They went on to name it Pondicherry!

And now, the British. Some of the names are close. For example if written in English by a native, the town may have been Masuri and not Mussorie. Bear in mind, the "r" is read as a "d" in the north. Calyaun for Kalyan is another. But how did they get Kakinada as Coconada!

The Brits were perhaps pained by really long names like Thiruvananthapuram, Thirunelveli and Thiruchirapalli and decided to anglicize as Trivandrum, Tinnevelly and Trichnapoly. But from where did they add a "p" to Thiruvallikeni and make it Triplicane! Or for that matter, they even confused the placement of "n" for Thirukonamalai and called it Trincomalee! Why, they would chose to rename Yazhpanam as something entirely differently, Jaffna.

The process of renaming places is very interesting. As the state governments take special efforts to change all instances of Bangalore to Bengaluru thereby demonstrating a socialistic attitude of adding employment for a totally useless action, the effect can be seen only say 15-20 years later. It is only in recent times that people have been adopting Chennai and Mumbai for Madras and Bombay because these are the words they are being hammered with in the media.

Incidentally a colony named MariReddypally turned Marredpally was renamed Nehrunagar perhaps 30-40 years back. However, the post man doesn't care how you address the place. Mails are still delivered right! Perhaps the same with Deccan Gymkhana and Sambhajinagar. The auto rickshaws may take you for a ride if you use the latter names!

Soon, instances of "Y" will be replaced and we will have places named like Mahishuru instead of Mysore.

A few good men have left their names in the places where they associated with. Carterpuri and Wanlesswadi for example.

Here are a few more interesting names
Dowleshvaram (Dhavaleshvaram)
Rajahmundry (Rajamahendravaram)
Vizianagaram (Vijayanagaram)
Waltair - Vizag - Vizagapatnam (Vishakapatnam)
Cawnpore (Kanpur)
Serampore (Shrirampur)
Secunderabad (Sikandrabad)
Broach (Bharuch)
Burdwan (Bardhaman)
Jubbulpore (Jabalpur)
Lucknow (Lakhnau - Lakshmanpuri)

What finally? Nayi Dilli for New Delhi? And the last step? Hind for India?

1 comment:

KC's Kingdom! said...

Your research is pretty good, I must admit. You should have included Taxila (Takshashila) and Patna (Pataliputra). :)

You have the gift. Keep writing - maybe even attempt a book. It just might be the next best seller by an Indian author. Have I inspired you enough? :)