Is "Antipodes" a culturally insensitive term?

New Zealand is approximately antipodal to Britain, so no problem with the British using that term for that part of the world. But for Americans to call NZ the “Antipodes” is nonsense. The opposite side of the world from North America is way out in the Indian Ocean. Somewhere west of Australia and south of Indonesia where there’s no land at all (except some islands called Kerguelen Land, antipodal to Alberta, Canada).

The way to find the antipodal point from where you are is easy: Switch latitude N to S and keep the same number. The longitude switches from W to E, and the number is 180 minus your position.

All the Muslims around the world face Mecca when they pray. The antipodal point to Mecca is an island called Tematagi in the Tuamoto Archipelago in the South Pacific. The place that they all turn their backs on. This answers the question asked by the 17th-century Ottoman Turkish essayist Katip Çelebi if there is any spot on the globe where the direction of Mecca could be equally any direction at all. He figured out that it would be the antipodal point even though he didn’t know there really was an island called Tematagi there.

Circa 1970 Isaac Asimov wrote one of his essays about antipodal points. He concluded by noting that the antipodes of Vietnam was in Ecuador, so people fed up with the war could go there to get as far away from Vietnam as possible.

Or to be more precise, the Kerguelen antipodal area straddles the Alberta-Montana border. There’s a couple other Indian Ocean islands that are opposite Colorado; Hawaii is antipodal to Botswana and Namibia; and the northern areas of NA are opposite Antarctica.

Curiously, Australia is opposite no other land. Its antipodal area fits in neatly into the north Atlantic, with Bermuda being just offshore from Perth and Flores in the Azores being near Tasmania.

So … if an Aussie calls someone else an Antipodean – this means they’re wet?
Waitaminute – maybe that IS culturally insensitive! The swines!

[sub](Ice Wolf goes off muttering, looking for the ANZAC Good Manners manual)[/sub]

So, what would the consequences be if maps and globes of the world showed the southern hemisphere as the northern and the northern as “down under”? You know, it’s widely believed that should nuclear war occur the southern hemisphere would not suffer the same destruction as the north but would be left to endure interminable nuclear winter. Should anything or anyone survive that it’s quite likely that world power would be concentrated in the south anyway.

I think Antipodes could actually be culturally insensitive after all, for the reason that it implies that the speaker/writer is in the “right” place, or at least in the center of all that’s worthwhile. Aren’t Asian people’s objections to the term Oriental based on a similar idea?

But then the terms Western, Old World, New World etc. would fall into the same bracket, AFAIK they have few compaints.

I think it doesn’t imply that at all. It is a geographical term, and no one that uses the expression claims to be in the right place with the Antipodeans being placed wrong. It’s simply “you’re on the other hemisphere”, nothing more.

As a U.S. expat living in EnZed in the early 80s, I remember the incident well. The Aussies were slighty ahead in a limited-over test match, and the Kiwis could have won if their final batsman had hit a six (think “home run”). Instead the Aussie bowler threw underarm - quite within the rules, but not “sportsmanlike” in the situation - so it was impossible for the Kiwi to hit the ball hard enough to score a six. The Aussies won. Cripes, you would have thought the bowler had shot the guy from the way everybody carried on. For years after I would see people wearing “Aussies have an underarm problem” t-shirts. I find it highly amusing that they still haven’t forgotten.

And I have a copy of a “Rightside-Up World Map” I got in New Zealand that has south at the top.

So it really wasn’t “cricket” after all?

I’m sorry. I really am but it was just lying there.
Runs away.

*Originally posted by astro *

Absolutely. When I pointed out that, in baseball, anybody who didn’t exploit the rules to the utmost in order to win would be considered crazy, they in turn pointed out that baseball, not being cricket, was not “cricket”.

Is there a General Question still on the table here?