Friday, September 28, 2007

What's in A Name?

A look at Myanmar's name change

By The Associated PressThu Sep 27, 3:29 PM ET

In 1989, Burma officially changed its name in English to the Union of Myanmar and renamed the former capital, Rangoon, as Yangon, bringing the English names into conformance with their pronunciation in the national tongue.

The military government decreed that the names of states, towns and other geographical sites be written in English according to the native pronunciation. The nationality — Burmese — also was changed to Myanmar.

"Myanmar" has been accepted by the United Nations and increasingly used internationally and in standard references. "Myanmar" functions as both noun and adjective; e.g., "the Myanmar currency," "Myanmar officials."

Many who regard the military junta as illegitimate continue to call the country Burma.

Government officials said the change in the country's name was to better reflect Burma's ethnic diversity. The term "Burma" connotes Burman — the country's dominant ethnicity — to the exclusion of minorities who have fought for greater autonomy from the central government.

In 2005, the government relocated its capital 250 miles from Yangon to the remote city of Naypyidaw.

(This version CORRECTS that Yangon is the former, sted current, capital.)

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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

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