Names of Nations and Peoples

Has there ever been a movement whereby a Nation or a People would be called by others what they call themselves?
For example, the people of Egypt call their nation Misr, so everyone else would call their nation Misr.
I understand that there’d probably a lot of resistance to something like this, but it seems (to me anyway) like it would be a good first step for people from other lands and cultures to learn a little more about each other (with a minimum of effort.)

A recent thread about Cote d’Ivoire would seem to indicate it fits your question.

Can’t see the point, really. All we would learn is that the people of Egypt call their land “Misr”. So what? We could have guessed that they didn’t call it “Egypt”, and I don’t see that our understanding is profoundly advanced by knowing what they do call it. And, in any event, we could know that without using the term itself. I mean, I am aware that Germans refer to their country as “Deutschland”; my awareness is not diminished by the fact that I call it “Germany”.

Besides, what do you do with multiethnic countries? Some Belgians refer to their country as “Belgique”, others as “Belgie”. Which should we prefer?

On the whole it’s not a great idea to introduce foreign words into English where a clear and unambiguous English word already exists; it’s usually regarded as pretentious. I don’t see any pressing need to make an exception for the names of countries.

In the 1930s, Persia’s government announced that the country’s name was now Iran, and they expected the rest of the world to follow suit. The name change stuck internationally. AFAIK, Iran is called Iran in every single language in the world.

Also in the 1930s, the government of Siam announced that the country was being renamed Thailand (in English at least), and they expected the rest of the world to follow suit. The name change stuck.

A few years ago, Ivory Coast tried to get everyone to use the French form of the name, Côte d’Ivoire. They have had mixed success so far. The U.S. State Department, for one, has officially accepted the name change, but I still hear ordinary people saying “Ivory Coast.” In Arabic they call it by the Arabic translation of the name: al-Sâhil al-‘Âjî. I don’t know about Chinese or Hindi… although in general Hindi tends to imitate English. I’d be curious to know if the Hindi press still uses the English name “Ivory Coast” transliterated into Devanagari. You don’t see much French transliterated in Hindi, that’s for sure. Hindi has a strong preference for borrowing from English. Did Abidjan insist on the Russians, Uzbeks, etc. switching to Côte d’Ivoire? Or was that only for English?

I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but the Turkish government has for several years been insisting that the only proper form of the country’s name in English is the Turkish spelling: Türkiye. That includes the two dots over the u. Everyone outside Turkey has simply ignored this.

So why is it that we respect Ivory Coast - Cote d’Ivoire, Siam - Thailand and Burma - Myanmar, but not Turkey - Türkiye?

I have a suggestion, and the SDMB, with its cosmopolitan population, is just the place for it. I say we petition the federal government to insist that every nation on earth, in every language, say “The United States of America” for our nation.

No “Etats Unites” for the Francophones.

No “Estados Unidos” for the Span~~ er, however you spell it.

No “Amerika” for the Japanese.

Nope. Say it right or don’t say it at all. Say it with me, everybody. “United States of America. United States of America. United States of America.”

[sub]In case anyone doesn’t get it, I’m kidding.[/sub]

Er, a lot of us don’t.

We’re sorry Turkey, but we are going to pass on the idea to change every english keyboard in existance so we can put two little dots above your U. Your name will hereby stay synonimous with a big ugly stupid American bird!

Hate to burst your bubble, but there’s no need to change the keyboard. Just hit option-u, then u again. Like this—ü. Instant umlaut.

Burma was named as such by the British for the dominant ethnic group however this doesn’t recognise other groups like the Shan, Karens or Kachins among others. It’s like renaming the US California (or Texas perhaps) and the revert back to Myanma® merely reflects the short form of the Burmese word for the entire country rather than the group itself. Similarly, Rangoon became Yangon and the Irrawaddy became the Ayeyarwady again.

The problem is that Aung San Suu Kyi and the opposition (which should be in government) oppose it as they oppose everything done by the regime. Because of her popularity and the brutality of the regime, there is a reticence in the West to accept the name change against her say. Although the US and UK don’t accept the junta’s legitimacy, is it reason to not accept the legitimacy of its reason for doing it?

If your post is directed at me, then let me state for the record that I, personally, could care less what the Burmese/Myanmarese want to call themselves. They could insist that we call their nation “Walt Disney World,” for all I care.

I just don’t get why Spain isn’t insisting everyone call it España, why Germany isn’t insisting on Deutschland, etc. If two or three nations are going to demand that everyone call their country such-n-such, then why not all of them?

It needn’t have been directed at anything other than the subject of the thread. But since you mentioned that you ‘respect’ the name change and ruadh dissented, I thought I’d add my own view and understanding of the issue. Of course, even if it wasn’t directed at you, you’re still free to state whatever you like for records or what have you.

It’s curious, then, that Turkey uses Yunanistan for Ellas :smiley:

San Jose, California has recently taken to putting an accent over the “e”, even though diacritical marks are explicitly disallowed by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. It is apparently in recognition of the fact that the city government now takes orders from Mexico City instead of Washington.

Gest, accepting the change of name would be tacitly accepting the right of the regime to change the name. This is something I refuse to do.

Only on a Mac. On Windows, it’s harder.

Oops…my bad. Sorry Windows users! :smiley:

Takes orders from Mexico City? What? Am I missing some joke?

Interesting, because the official tourist guide distributed by the Turkish consulate at the recent Seattle International Film Festival uses the Western spelling. I guess they’re willing to insist only up to just shy of the point of shooting themselves in the economic foot. ("‘Turkaya’? Where the hell is that?") :slight_smile:

ü = Alt 0252 for WindowWatchers

The Ukranians did get the rest of the world to call their country simply Ukraine instead of The Ukraine.