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Should you say Myanmar or Burma?

- - - - - name myanmar

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#1
BurmeseNews

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“FOLLOW local practice when a country expressly changes its name,” advises “The Economist Style Book”, the Bible of this newspaper. Among the list of examples that follow (“Lviv, not Lvov” etc) only two rate authorial interjections: “Myanmar, not (alas) Burma” and “Yangon, not (alas, alack) Rangoon”. We follow that dictate in our pages, of course, but not everyone else does. Upon landing at the country’s busiest airport, your pilot may welcome you to Yangon, but your luggage will still be tagged RGN. Though Barack Obama referred to Myanmar when he met the country’s former president, Thein Sein, for the first time, the American embassy still gives its address as “Rangoon, Burma”. And ordinary Burmese tend to refer, at least in conversation, to their country as “Burma” and its largest city as “Rangoon”. Which should you use, and why?
 
In 1989 the then-ruling military junta changed the name, one year after it brutally suppressed an uprising, and one year before Aung San Suu Kyi won a landslide electoral victory that the junta simply ignored. The junta claimed both that Burma was a colonially imposed name and, as this newspaper explained in 2013, that it “had an ethnic-supremacist tinge, since it referred to the ‘Burman’ majority”. The latter argument was bogus: for one thing, whatever ethnic supremacism was implied by the name paled in comparison to that expressed in the junta’s policies. For another, the names share a common root. Though the words look radically different in Roman scripts, in Burmese they are pronounced almost identically: with a quick, unstressed first syllable, either “buh” or something like “munn”, followed by a longer “MA”. In neither name is there a hard “r” sound anywhere. It is never pronounced “MAI-an-marr”. Gustaaf Houtman, an anthropologist who specialises in the country, explains that native speakers use both words: Myanmar is the formal, literary form and Burma an everyday term. Burma has the advantages of ease of pronunciation (for foreigners), and visual consistency: the adjectival form is Burmese, not Myanmarese (still less Myanmese, ugh!).
 


#2
Wes

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>citing The Economist

 

Consider suicide







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