IHT Letters: Let’s call it Burma, not Myanmar

Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2007 01:08:03 -0700 (PDT)
From: “Maurizio Morabito”
Subject: Let’s call it Burma, not Myanmar
To: “Letters IHT”

Dear Editors

What is the rationale behind the use of the word “Myanmar” to indicate Burma?

“Myanmar” as the “foreign” name for the country has been forced upon the Burmese people by the Military Junta in the aftermath of the 1988 killings of thousands of demonstrators.

“Myanmar” is even linguistically wrong, as it includes a final “r” that was meant to convey a lowering of tone and instead just extends the “a” in English. And no wonder: few linguistic scholars participated in the invention of “Myanmar”.

Why should anyone feel compelled to follow the Junta into yet another of its follies, I am not sure. The USA still officially uses “Burma” and rightly so.

(Obviously “Burma” may have a colonial connotation: well, when the country will be back in the hands of its people, they will finally be free to democratically choose whatever name to call it.)

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