Should you say Myanmar or Burma?
December 21, 2016 - 12:45am
“FOLLOW local practice when a country expressly changes its name,” advises “The Economist Style Book”, the Bible of this newspaper. Among the list of examples that follow (“Lviv, not Lvov” etc) only two rate authorial interjections: “Myanmar, not (alas) Burma” and “Yangon, not (alas, alack) Rangoon”. We follow that dictate in our pages, of course, but not everyone else does. Upon landing at the country’s busiest airport, your pilot may welcome you to Yangon, but your luggage will still be tagged RGN. Though Barack Obama referred to Myanmar when he met the country’s former president, Thein Sein, for the first time, the American embassy still gives its address as “Rangoon, Burma”. And ordinary Burmese tend to refer, at least in conversation, to their country as “Burma” and its capital as “Rangoon”. Which should you use, and why?In 1989 the then-ruling military junta changed the name, one year after it brutally suppressed an uprising, and one year before Aung San Suu Kyi won a landslide electoral victory that the junta simply ignored. The...Continue reading
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