Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Name changes - are they really stupid?

Is there a justification behind the name changes initiated by the Karnataka Government? My first reaction when I read the news was one of laughter, "see, how uselsess these politicians are, making an issue out of nothing." I laughed at the funny sounding names, Mysuru, Hubbali and such.

Then I read Prakah's comment in this discussion about how Tamilians were lucky that their name changes happened prior to blogging and hence were spared ridicule by the bloggers. Though he made it sound light hearted, it set me thinking. Is it really stupid to change the colonial names to what they originally were?. Take the case of Wandiwash in Tamilnadu. There is no sh sounding alphabet in Tamil. The name was the English corruption of Tamil Vandavasi. Is it really necessary to keep the corrupted names just because it is hep? What is wrong in reverting back to the original names?. As Prakash asks, would you really prefer Wandiwash or Gingee or Courtallam in place of Vandavasi, Chenji or Kuttralam?

Whatever might be Mr. Kumarasamy's motive behind the current name change exercise, I don't find anything wrong with the exercise as such(as if anyone asked me to elaborate).


neha vish said...

There is absolutely nothing wrong or right when it comes to a name change. The issue is when decisions are taken by the powers that be without mentioning it in their manifesto. Just because a government is elected, doesn't mean that each aspiration of the government is the aspiration of those who elect.

Corrupted names being hep or not are immaterial. Every word is a corrupt form of a previous word. Change is natural - even if undesirable - but it's interesting to note who initiates the change and for what reason.

Nilu said...


athavathu, whenever a government does anything that is not mentioned in the manifesto -- it must either seek a refarandum or a re-election.

ada ada...enna thathuvam. even krish and sudhish put together won't beat this.

Anonymous said...

Neha, what "change" are you exactly referring to? If you are referring to a natural change over the decades/centuries in the way the city's addressed by the junta (from 'Bengalooru' to 'Bangalore'), you are way off the mark.

In fact, Bangalore is just the anglicized form of Bengalooru, just like Tamilnaad/Tamilnadoo is the Hindianized form of Tamilnadu (with the Kutriyalugaram, if you know what I mean!). The usage of the "foreign" form is relatively more in the former case, but the "native" form too exists.

swami said...

"There is no sh sounding alphabet in Tamil..."

One more example! :(

Anonymous said...

I didnt knew that so many places in Tamil Nadu got their name changed. I am surprised that even Madurai and Thiruchirapalli had differnt names previously. I have always wondered why former minsiter Chenji Ramachandran was referred as Gingee Ramachandran in Hindu. This explains it. Nalla velai they didnt call him as Ingee Ramachandran :)

Even before Madras name was officially changed, Chennai was widely used in Tamil to refer Madras, esp Tamil newspapers.

Most of the people in my area used to call Bangalore as Bengaloor(பெங்களுர்). Even Tamil Nadu SETC buses(TTC) have Bengaloor(பெங்களுர்) for denoting Bangalore. May be people who got used to the anglicised name will be finding it to difficult to adjust to the new name.

I said...

The Hamilton Bridge- Amabttan Bride-Ambattan Viduhu- Barber's Bridge is the funniest name change ever.

Also the Srinivasan Iyengar, Iyer, Naidu St in West Mambalam changed to just Srinivsan St, causing lot of confusion.

Premalatha said...

//Even before Madras name was officially changed, Chennai was widely used in Tamil to refer Madras, esp Tamil newspapers. //

was chennai ever written as மெட்ராஸ் in tamil? (ignorant me asking).

names are indicators/keepers of historical happenings. for eg.
கல்லிடைக்குறிச்சி is older settlement compared to அம்பாசமுத்திரம், as the later name indicates it must have been "formed" or "named" during சோழ time.

Have you heard about "tree ring" science? forgot the name of the science. Found it! Dendrochronology. ensaai. :)

Premalatha said...

I just remembered:
50பைசா was still called as எட்டணா and 25பைசா - நாலணா when I was small in kombai. Not anymore. They have naturally changed, the same people have forgotten that it was ever referred like that and they happpily call it 50காசு and 25காசு.

Anonymous said...

Chennai was very rarely written as மெட்ராஸ் in tamil. But Madras was widely used in spoken tamil.

Anaa(அணா) was a fractional monetary unit like paisa. But it was discontinued five decades back. People got used to Anaa and continued to use that because it was easier to pronounce(Compare நாலணா and இருபத்திஐந்து காசு). Younger generation used who were not aware of these, started using 50காசு and 25காசு instead of Anaas.

D LordLabak said...

Anyway, I like Madras better than Chennai.

Anonymous said...

Nevertheless, all these will create nothing but confusion in the already confusing and chaotic street names, new numbers and old numbers, etc. How about this to write it in your envelope "Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Devar Salai" (I guess we might need to buy another envelope to write the full street name) rather than Chamiers Road. The other day I saw the so-called followers of Pasumpon devar rubbing the name boards with tar in Chamiers Road which has the name Chamiers in it.

Premalatha said...

//Chennai was very rarely written as மெட்ராஸ் in tamil.//

அதுதான் கேட்டேன்.

//But Madras was widely used in spoken tamil.//

I Know. I still refer it as மெட்ராஸ். because I was not there in TN when the change happened. But when I went there last time, everyone refers it as சென்னை in spoken tamil as well.

//Anaa(அணா) was a fractional monetary unit like paisa. But it was discontinued five decades back. //

thank you thank you, i grew up referring 50பைசா as எட்டணா, and i know the history behind it. I even know ஓட்ட முக்காத்துட்டு, though have not seen it (my mother used to tell me).

அணா to பைசா/காசு with 100பைசா = 1rupee was done during British rule wasn't it? I have forgotten how many அணாக்கள் made next big denomination and I don't even know what was the next big denomination (ரூபாதான?).
anyway. நன்றி. :)

Nilu said...

is Premalatha related to Thennavan?

Anonymous said...

Before 1957 1 Indian Rupee is divided to 16 annas, 64 paise, or 192 pies. In 1957, India moved to metric system for currency. So the old annas, paise, pies were dropped in favour a new Paisa was introduced. 100 new paisas is equal to one rupee. The new Paisa was called Naya Paisa for some time. The 100 new paisas is equal to 16 annas. So people used நாலணா and எட்டணா for 25 and 50 paise respectively.

More at

Chenthil said...

Neha, that argument doesn't hold as Nilu explains subsequently.

Zero, Kuttiralugaram and all too much for this blog.

Swami, mea culpa. Will change it.

Saravanan and Premalatha, happy discussing annas and paise.

Deepa, you are welcome. We aren't discussing about right and wrong, just that the name changes aren't as ridiculous as it is painted to be.

Anonymous said...

Kuttira-uh-lugaram-aa? Kizhinijudhu ponga!

Hawkeye said...

was 'madras' a anglicized name. i dont think so.

Anand said...

naalanna and ettana are not used that frequently now simply because there not enough things that you can buy with them now..otherwise, even now i prefer calling them with the anna suffix only..

Now, @topic, Madras was called Chennai by Tamilians even before the name change..Madras(English) and Madharaas(Hindi) were used simply by the respective people for ease of communication..why change teh name officially to make it difficult for outsiders, especially in an 'era of globalization'??

ok, Chennai is an easy word..but Bengalooru? I find it funny when north indians try using the word..

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Premalatha said...


Thank you for the links.

Anonymous said...

Dear all Sisters & Brothers,

My suggestion to everyone is be unique by your habit, culture, langauge... anything. that is true if anyone have some sense about human beings. No body equal in anything. So we thamzhils always insist we should have great identity through by place names and language skills .Not like loaned english. Thamil language having superb base not like nearby mixed (later Sanskritized) dravidian languages such as .......

As per Abdul Kalam said India will not be a super power until we feel our own strength and weakness. One leader is not enough to prove all that. Everyone should have their own responsibility to do. Just note that all developed countries respect their own culture, people and their talents.

Here some not some, lot of stupid guys doing some bhajan for foreign culture, language and peoples. They won't respect their native also. if possible be quiet dears or be relevant to your living places and their languages.. dont host foreign flag and sanskrit slogan always. The only one solution to be better in life is respect yourself, your language, your people, your culture and your own invention if you have the cuts. We wont tell hesitate all others in the world. When you respect yourself you will definitely others like our Vallalar “Vaadiya payirai kandapothellaam vaadinen”. They respect even natural plants why’t others?

Like "No body perfect in life so i am" . We also have something like wrong. There is a need to remove those durts. We are in position to prove ourself like Japan, German, Russia in Technically, culturally and economically.

Don’t be irresponsible and don’t spread antinational thoughts.

Be Indian. Also be proud us Unity Indian. – Thamzhil Azhagan.

Anonymous said...

Changing the name of a city should not be done by the government. Everyone who has a right to vote living in that city should be allowed to vote for/against the name change. The final decision should be on the outcome of this vote.

After all we are a democratic country. :) - Aravind.S

Anonymous said...

Madras is always Madras, no matter whoever changes it or calls it otherwise.

Changes are so much irritating and make life more difficult . I always say Madras as I'm used to from childhood but people around me frown as I've uttered some obscene word.

Well, If you don't like british names or anything done by british then, why do you still celebrate Jan 1st as New year? We have seperate Tamil New Year right? Why don't you destroy the high courts, railway tracks constructed by british & reconstruct from the start? Sounds stupid right... Same way, It sounds stupid to change from Madras to Chennai when both co-existed without any problem. Now , only Chennai exists . where's my magnificent Madras? My DOB Certificate lists it as Madras. A'm I born in a city which does not exist? These changes promote regionalism & not nationalism… which will ultimately result in a separate Country ThamizlNadu(Once known as the State of Madras).

Don't know where will it End?