13 November 2010


by Cecily
I was reading the news (instead of writing my dissertation or grading tests or applying for jobs or cleaning my room or doing the dishes or any of the other things I'm supposed to be getting done) and noticed this sentence that President Obama apparently said:

"She is a hero of mine and a source of inspiration for all who work to advance basic human rights in Burma and around the world"

The title of the article calls the country in question "Myanmar", and the article is at Al Jazeera, who I usually assume are on the leftest side of naming conventions. I remembered having at least one conversation with someone who knew about the difference between calling this country Burma and calling it Myanmar, but I did not remember the content of the conversation so I looked it up on Wikipedia. It is very interesting!

The two names are different-register variants of the same Burmese word (according to Wikipedia). Phonetic register variation: interesting.

Obama used the opposition version (according to Wikipedia) while stodgy old Al Jazeera English used the oppressive regime name (according to Wikipedia). Political implications/subtext: interesting.

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