May 17, 2017

The BBC’s contempt for English names

The BBC’s contempt for English names

Andre Walker examines the BBC’s double standard of by-passing the English name for certain countries and cities to instead adopt the local name and pronunciation.

Last weekend we witnessed the beginning of the end of yet another English name for a city: Kiev. Like so many before the BBC has deemed the name to be unacceptable because the locals call it Kyiv.

Presenters like Scott Mills and Graham Norton proudly explained to viewers that they would be using the word Kyiv from now on. They just oozed smugness as they told us this, clearly under the impression people who use the name Kyiv are just a little bit better than the rest of us.

So, the name Kiev will join the likes of Ivory Coast, Bombay and Peking all deemed somehow offensive because they are English translations. The BBC now uses Côte d’Ivoire, Mumbai and Beijing and in doing so seems to have convinced itself they have struck a blow for fairness and equality.

The reality though is that the corporation has merely demonstrated a laughable ignorance of the fact different languages have different words. The BBC has also showed a pretty inexplicable double standard, because it does not insist on renaming every single city, country and region.

There are no plans to call Moscow by the Moskva local pronunciation. Also, Germany is in no danger of being replaced by Deutschland, nor Spain with España.

It does seem like those given the honour of these local names are the crap countries most people don’t give a toss about? In which case getting ‘awarded’ this ‘great honour’ is really a negative status symbol for the countries concerned.

This all reminds me of those hippies who come back from a trip to India having decided to discard knives and forks. They endlessly bleat that in India people eat with their hands, and seem proud to have taken this step backwards in cultural evolution in a bid to level the playing field.

What they fail to notice is that Indians do not just use knives and forks because they cannot afford them. They’re not superior to us, they are just very poor and following their lead when you aren’t poor is pathetic.

But lefties at places like the BBC are convinced anything outside of the Western world is superior to it. They dream of a day when we can learn good governance from some of the corrupt regimes that continue to dominate the African continent, or economics from Amazonian tribes whose wealth hasn’t increased in the last thousand years, or tolerance from Middle Eastern countries that string you up for drinking half a pint of cider.

It is time we admitted the harsh truth, most of the world is not hard done by: they have not been pillaged by the West. The reason people live in poverty is not because of the British Empire. No, most of the world’s dire economic and social problems occur because countries have failed to recognise Western democratic capitalism is better than the more primitive forms of social interaction they invented.

So, are the BBC really doing Ukraine a favour by telling them their language is more important than English? Of course not. Get a life.

4.50 avg. rating (89% score) - 38 votes
Andre Walker
Andre Walker
Andre Walker is lobby correspondent and columnist for the New York Observer. He covers the work of the British Parliament and Prime Minister. Before joining The New York Observer he was part of the team that established Breitbart London.
  • Prompt Critical

    Actually, that’s why chopsticks were invented in the first place…

    No, seriously, you should see how well she manages with dhal. The trick is to slop it together with something more solid, like a chapati or some rice. Steak would have to be cut up in advance, the way that the Americans do it. As for Spagh-Bol, the mind boggles…

  • Bosun Higgs®

    It would be amusing if they were consistent and talked of CAAHdiff, Bristows, Pairth, TruRO, Narfolk, Liverpule and Dottigub.

  • Ned Costello

    Drunk straight from the bowl I’d imagine, with added lip-smacking no doubt. We’re so hung-up on this kind of thing, don’t you think?

  • Ned Costello

    No indeed, that’s why cutlery was invented in the first place, and hygiene of course. I don’t imagine that eating sunday lunch with one’s hands is a particulary attractive sight, or steak, or Spaghetti Bolognese for that matter. I’d reintroduce your girlfriend to the spoon if I were you, at least where Dhal is concerned.

  • Ned Costello

    Well they’ve been calling Newcastle, New-CASSEL for some years now. Not heard any of them call London “Lahndahn” yet though, or refer to Glasgow as “Glesga”, or adopt a brummie accent when referring to Birmingham or more correctly “Bermingum”.

    The tossers.

  • Richie P

    Three cheers for Barry Cryer, who, when invited to name a country beginning with ‘N’ on last weekend’s Celebrity Pointless, offered Nyasaland. “Hmm. No wonder my letters aren’t getting through” he said, on being informed that that particular name had disappeared from the atlas over 50 years ago.

  • Fissionchips

    . . or Bradford in Yorkshire – you know Mohammed’s County.

  • Paul W

    As I recall it was a far right local authority that renamed Bombay (correctly it could be argued to Mumbai) but it is odd that the liberal(?) cabal that is the BBC accepted this renaming while they resisted the correct renaming of Myanmar for so very many years. Was it because all this while they revered the imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi – not so
    much now since she seems to be ambivalent towards the local Muslims.

    Back to Bombay and Bollywood – Should it now be Mollywood?

  • Take Back The Streets

    Well they still pronounce places like Paris, Barcelona and Brussels the English way. Funny that!

  • Thomas Katz

    The BBC is pure Filth, blocking up the drain of the Swamp!

  • ratcatcher11

    It is interesting and somewhat hypocritical to talk of Western democracy when most of Northern Europe ceased to have democraticaly elected governments 50 years ago in favour of a fascist state centred in Brussels.

  • John Standley

    My point is essentially about the rapid embrace of revised pronunciations, not the historic origins of the words. It could apply equally to “Bombay/Mumbai; Madras/Chennai” etc.

  • Big Les

    Wasn’t it decided by ancient linguistics experts (I meant the linguistics were ancient, not the experts….) that the Iceni would have pronounced the name as ‘Boudicca’ rather than ‘Boadicea’?

  • AnusRodendum

    Interestingly, while renaming Indian cities such as Bombay, Bangalore, Calcutta etc. was a political gimmick to nurture nationalism, institutions such as the Bombay High Court could not be renamed for legal reasons.

  • Big Les

    Apparently the locals still call it Victoria Terminus because the Hindi name for the main railway station is too fecking long!

  • jimmy

    The really funny thing is that Bombay stood for a city that was, by Indian standards, tolerant, pluralistic and open with many different religions. Then a fascist group took control and decided to try to force non-Marathi speakers to use the MArathi name of “Mumbai” even when speaking English or Hindi. And then the BBC and the western media went along with it for no good reason, especially considering the name Bombay is still used by English speaking Indians and is a name stretching back many centuries.

  • thamesmud
  • Dacorum

    I totally agree with the author.

    What is wrong with us using old established English names for foreign cities like Peking, Bombay, Canton, Madras and Calcutta, to name just a few examples? These are familiar names we can spell and pronounce.

    And why has the tendency been to only change the names of non European cities? Are we about to change the names we have for Munich, Gothenburg and Vienna? You have to admit that Vienna sounds far more attractive than Wien!

    Foreigners change the name and spelling of our cities to suit themselves like the French who call London, Londres. No doubt that sounds better to them and I’m happy about that.

  • Fissionchips

    . . soup?

  • Fissionchips

    . . their legs go like the clappers when they retreat, it’s in their genes.

  • Bosun Higgs®

    Or calling Gateshead ‘Gyets-ed’.

  • Bosun Higgs®

    The reason for changing ‘Kiev’ to ‘Kyiv’ is that ‘Kiev’ transliterates the Russian version of the city’s name, which was its official name within the Soviet Union, while ‘Kyiv’ transliterates the current Ukrainian official name.

    But you’re right in the other cases. I can’t imagine the Beeb calling St Petersburg ‘Sankt Paiterboork’. Oh no, actually I can…..

  • John Standley

    I once coined the term: “Bouddicology” for this habit. Definition: “The immediate and enthusiastic embrace of a revised pronunciation of a historic name.”

    Thus, “Boadicea” seemed to become “Boudicca” virtually overnight.

    The true Bouddicologist will then insert the word into conversation with an admirable frequency, such as to suggest that they have “…always known this,actually..”

    How strange that it never applies to Bayern Munich. Or should that be Bayern Muenchen? Or Bavaria Munich? I am confused.

  • Alan Llandrindod Wells

    Marine’s partner is Jewish.

  • Prompt Critical

    “Indians do not just use knives and forks because they cannot afford them.”

    That’s rubbish. My Indian girl friend owns two half-million pound houses outright, and she
    usually eats with her hands. She has plenty of knives and forks and spoons in the kitchen
    drawers as well. She just likes to use her hands. Which is not an easy skill, actually; not when
    your meal includes dhall.

  • thamesmud

    Younger but not a lot taller. What is about the French and short blokes ?

  • An Sionnach Dubh

    I can’t wait to hear a few BBC types trying to get their tongues around the Irish name for Dublin then (Baile Átha Cliath). Or even putting the stress on the second syllable of Belfast (Béal Feirste).

  • gelert

    I thought it was New Dacca – oops, Dhaka 😉

  • Landphil

    We call it Leicester.

  • gelert

    Changing Bombay to Mumbai was a political gimmick and met with a lot of resistance from the locals; many still call it Bombay.

  • gelert

    Firenze or Milano for the weekend, anyone ?

    The French don’t go in for this sort of rubbish. It’s still Pekin and,er, Londres.

  • The Meissen Bison

    Andre Walker examines the BBC’s double standard of by-passing the English name for
    certain countries and cities

    That should be Andrew, then, really.

  • Landphil

    Still Chicken Kiev, as in Bombay Mix and Peking Duck

  • bobsworth

    “Here we say ‘Kyiv’ not ‘Kiev,'” Taras Ilkiv, a Ukrainian journalist who recently wrote an article for Business Insider on the protests, explained in an email, “because ‘Kiev’ is the Russian word.” It’s simple: in Ukrainian, the word for the city is Київ, while in Russian, it reads as Киев. ”

    http://www.businessinsider.com/kiev-or-kyiv-2014-1?IR=T

    So it’s about respecting the cultural sensitivities of the people who actually live there.

    Not that Mr Walker or any of the other right-wing bellends who fill these threads give a flying fuck about respecting the wishes of “foreigners”.

  • gelert

    Typical liberal head in the sand mentality. The threat to Jews in Western Europe is from the Muslim populations of these countries. Just look at the heavy security necessary at Jewish schools in the UK that was put in place long before there was any talk of a referendum.

    People in Europe are fed up with a flood of illegal immigrants and “refugees”, with a very poor claim to that label , to satisfy the virtue-signalling and guilt of liberals.. The author should read Douglas Murray’s new book, “The Strange Death of Europe.”

  • Peter Martin

    Absolutely. Dr Kantor is doing his compatriots no service. Muslim attacks on Jews in France are steady and violent – I noted after the Charlie Hebdo massacre the killers attacked a kosher supermarket (“random”, according to the MSM…) An earlier victim was in November 2003, when a young French Jewish DJ, Sebastien Selam, was murdered by his Muslim neighbor and former friend, Adel Boumedienne. Boumedienne slit Selam’s throat and gouged out his eyes with a knife and is quoted as saying, “I killed my Jew, I will go to paradise” and “It was what Allah demanded.”

  • He’s talking about France, not Paris.

  • MrVeryAngry

    Far left and far right are pretty well the same. These labels are now past their sell by date. What we have is a top/bottom axis, not a left right one. At the top is liberty, personal responsibility and tolerance. And the bottom is slavery, irresponsibility and intolerance. Brexit is an expression of the former. Le Pen et al, the latter.

  • John Lewis

    The only possible reprieve for Europes largest Jewish community would have been to elect the only candidate prepared to halt the seemingly endless influx of Jew-hating Islamists. The fact that her defeat is seen by M Kantor as a reason for celebration highlights the wilful blindness of his ilk (Jews and non-Jews alike) safe in their ivory towers.

  • Birtles

    Marine Le Pen’s partner is Jewish. He is a Jewish pied noir, so he knows all about being ethnically cleansed by Islamists.

  • SonofBoudica

    I don’t see any evidence of anti-semitism in Marine La Pen’s utterances. It is ironic that this author is advocating the very policies, supporting the liberal-left, that drive people to the far Right. He is strangely silent on the topic of the intolerance for Jews, and the liberal, democratic society, displayed by many Muslims, living in Europe.

  • Muttley

    You are barking up the wrong tree, and you must know it. In Paris, Jews have been almost entirely driven out of their historic suburbs to the north of the city by the predominance of muslim immigrants and their descendents who are innately hostile to Jews. A realistic view of this appears in this week’s New Statesman magazine in an article by Christopher Caldwell about a book by French social commentator Christophe Guilluy.

    “Most places where migrant and native French cultures mix, Guilluy expects, will evolve as did the northern Paris suburbs where he works. Twenty years ago, these neighbourhoods remained a hub of Parisian Jewish life; nowadays, they’re heavily Arab. The young men living in them feel a burning solidarity with their Muslim brethren in the Middle East and often a loathing for Israel. Jews have faced steady intimidation in northern Paris since at least 2002, when the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks overlapped with the Palestinian “second intifada”.

    Jews have evacuated some municipalities north of Paris where, until recently, they were an integral part: Saint-Denis, La Courneuve, Aubervilliers, Stains, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, Trappes, Aulnay-sous-Bois and Le Blanc-Mesnil. Many Jews still live safely and well in France, of course, but they cluster together in a smaller number of secure neighbourhoods, several of them on Paris’s western edge. Departures of French Jews to Israel run to about 7,000 a year, according to the Jewish Agency of France. The leavers are disproportionately young.”
    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/elections/2017/05/french-fracture

    Let’s have some honesty about where this new wave of anti-semitism in France is coming from.

  • Lumpen Proletariat

    Spot on. Macron is simply a younger, more handsome version of Hollande so the word ‘bienvenue’ will still be on the welcome mat pour les visiteurs!

  • Alfred Burke

    He refers to “…the post-World War II international institutions, such as the European Union.” then further on in his article he says “Democracy and western values need to be defended at every turn.” There is no finer example of an anti-democratic institution than the E.U.

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