Thursday 17 June 2010

Mumbo jumbo of changing names

After the hurricane of changing names devastated memories in Bombay, its the turn of Tamil Nadu to follow suit. For those who don't quite know what the scenario is, let me explain. From time to time, our leaders turn quite chauvinistic about their native-tongue, that they carry on a spate of name changes. All the roads, streets and landmarks which has the name of English people are ruthlessly changed to the vernacular.

Love for one's language is but a natural trait that many homo sapiens possess but this is carried a bit too far by our political bigwigs. Presently the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has proposed changing all English names to Tamil. Well done but can the government change the memory of people. Tomorrow if I get into a taxi and ask for Bharathi road instead of Harrington road, will he know? NO. He will ask me to give the older name. Landmarks with which one grew up with cannot be changed overnight just by a different name.

If someone who has left Chennai before twenty years returns and gives the old address only to be told that names have been changed, how will s/he respond?

Well, many debates have been taking place on television about this issue but nevertheless nothing can stop our leaders from carrying on with this mumbo jumbo of names.


  1. perhaps it is just an attempt to regain or maintain the cultural heritage that was so lost with the takeover by the Queen's regime - but i do know what you mean - could be very confusing - thanks so much for coming by my place, susan, it means so much to me!! have a glorious day, dear friend!

  2. Bingo :( disgusts me seriously because nativization (using the term loosely here) is good at one level : the native lang is back in communication and circulation. Some satisfaction that the lang is not dying!
    But at the level of pronunciation, I hate it as it just destroys the music of the language, esp. other language speakers!

    Malayalam the language has many sounds unknown to other languages and unforunately many place names are infested with those letters and sounds. And there is no equivalent letter to denote it in English (for example)

    for example the sound zh for instance. The ridiculous thing is, the sound is not zha at all in malayalam and any localites will be confused when somebody asks directions to that particular place with a zha!! when that place is around the corner!!

    Whims of politicians!!

  3. Yes, it is a way of preserving heritage but then we have had the Chief Minister for so many years and only now he decides to change the old names.

    I will continue visiting your place dear Jen. Hugs.

    Joy and peace always :)

  4. We used have a theatre named Menaka in Cochin. Closed down a while back, but the name of the bus stop and that area remains the same... :)

  5. One day they will ask Susan to change her name cause they will find some british origins to that name!
    Hope they dont ask you to change it to Susanam :P

  6. Ajinkya has risen from the ashes . . . and I am so happy.

    Keep coming and enlivening the place. Joy always.

  7. It must be very confusing when names or anything else changes just from one day to another. That reminds me of 1969 I think it was when the Swedes went from driving on the left to driving on the right over night, it caused a bit of a havoc.;))

  8. Ah! now that is a worse scenario than changing names. Have a lovely weekend and week ahead dear Zuzana :)

  9. Well... that is a controvertial question... One has a history sometimes, which needs to be erased, just by changing names? I guess that is a way to start... but... Don't really know what to say.

    Joy always (back to YOU!)


  10. That would be very confusing. I cannot imagine going back to the city my mother was born in and trying to find her old address. Does this happen very often?

  11. They'd change names and then,'what is in a name they will say,
    sooner than later people will not remember the new names anyway,
    don't we know that these are the games the politicians love to play
    but the cost of painting the new signboards we will have to pay.

    Bak in the 80's in Madurai, the name of a bus terminus 'Collector's Office' was ceremoniously changed to 'Mavata Atichiyalar Aluvulagam (roughly District rulers office). The bus boards were all repainted. Once a illiterate waiting in the bus stop asked the conductor of the bus that came by, where it was heading? The conductor pompously replied Mavata Atichayalar Aluvugam and seeing the perplexed expression on the man's face quickly corrected it to Collector's Office. To which the man said 'Mudalayae Tamila sollirukalame?( You could have said it in Tamil in the first place). So much for language chauvinism

  12. Politicians everywhere are looking for action. Sometimes it takes them in the wrong direction.

    There's nothing wrong with patriotic feelings, but changes of the kind mentioned in your post, should be done slowly, and reasonably.

  13. i feel that when politicians exhaust their skills on caste or religion divide they come out with gimmicks to show the stupid Janata how patriotic they are.More than the politicians i get very annoyed at the people who fall for all these gimmicks and flood their vote banks.

  14. I completely will cause so much chaos. Indeed, changing words will not change history. And changing names will not extinguish the memory of British imperialism (tyranny more like) however hard governments may try.

  15. Ashes:

    This happens all the time. Eventhough names are changed, people use only the old and familiar names. The new ones may be used by someone who does not have a great attachment to the the older names (read children here).


    Its no controversy Dulce. By erasing names, can history be forgotten or changed? Even we don't know what to say on this issue.

  16. Angie:

    It is very confusing Angie. It happens on and off with successive governments. few months ago there was a drive against all English boards and banners. Everything was to be changed to Tamil.
    Strange reckonings.


    Where had you disappeared? Been long. You know this scenario so well. After all this is not new to us but is still rattles us every time it happens.

  17. DUTA:

    Tell me about that DUTA. Our Chief Minister is 86 years old and still he does all these things. Everytime he is in power, something of this sort happens. Once he did a anti-Hindi drive and blackened all non-Tamil boards. Patriotism is within the being not in actions as these.


    Patriotism should not border on fundamentalism. One should understand the importance of memory, history and common sense.

  18. Sam:

    Everyone likes to tamper and create history their own way. True, by changing the names one cannot erase the past. It happened and its traces will definitely remain. The British played an important role in transport and communication and this is being enjoyed by everyone.
    The Chief Minister knows this too well. Only names can be changed, nothing else.

    Joy always :)

  19. thanks for popping in today. i imagine that could be quite can change teh name on the outside but that does little for what goes on inside...or has...nice post.

  20. You're welcome Brian. Yes, it is but we don't much mind. We are used to it. Passive, yes but nothing can be done, you know.

    Hope to see more of you by and by.

    Joy always.



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