Friday, October 12, 2007

What's In a Name ?

Recently, some bloggers put up simple "Free Burma !" posts on their blogs. Then, yesterday, I saw someone on MSN with the nick, "Free Myanmar !".

Two words, refering ostensibly to the same object, and yet having absolutely different connotations.

Not too long ago, I was puzzled by the absolute refusal of certain global entities in using the name "Myanmar". After all, what's in a name, or so I thought. Then came the recent crisis in Myanmar/Burma, which highlighted the otherwise subtle differences in the words.

The fact that the choice of a noun actually indicates the person's political position is extremely interesting. However, in retrospect, this is not new - "Pro-choice", "Pro-life", are both terms which refer to the same thing, but signify different stances towards abortion. Many other examples exist.

Thus, I wonder - Is there a neutral word which can be used to refer to Myanmar/Burma ? With only two words to chose from and with each word implying the supporting of a particular faction, in naming that country, one would forcibly dragged into taking a side. Interesting, and troublesome, for any self-purported neutral observer.

Free Temasek, anyone ? Or, perhaps, free Malaya.

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