Myanmar or Burma?

Myanmar has been the official name of the country since 1989, but still a great deal of people are unaware of the change. Some even go into the lengths and insist that Burma is the right name. In the press the country is sometimes referred as Myanmar (Burma) to avoid the confusion. So what is going on here? Why is there still confusion after 25 years?
The controversy only concerns the English language and mostly due political reasons. In Burmese the country name is Myanma and Bama is used in colloquial speak. The original name of the country is Myanma and the oldest use of the word goes back to 11th century. Myanmar is the “englishified” spelling adopted in 1989. The name Burma as the official name of the country was adopted in 1930 during the British colonial rule. Burma derives from Barma, which is the major ethnic group in Myanmar with roughly 68% of the country population. To make things more confusing, Barma or Bama itself derives from Myanmar using a funky word substitution (Myanmar → Myanma → Myama → Mama → Bama). So what is the big deal about restoring the original name of the country?
The decision was made by the ruling junta, which made it unpopular among the opposition on the grounds that the junta had no authority to change the name. National League for Democracy, the main opposition force in Myanmar, favored Burma over Myanmar in 90s, but changed their tune since then. Some opposition parties, while still favor using Burma in English, use Myanma in Burmese. No opposition party insists on using Bama as the official name in Burmese.
I have asked local people about which name they preferred and everybody went for Myanmar. A guy from the Shan state told me that they found the name Burma offensive because of the British background. So there you have it. The original name is Myanma(r) , vocal opposition voices insist on Burma. Locals use Myanma(r) , the rest of the world knows only Burma. British use Myanma when talking to local population and Burma among each other. So yes, a total mess with a politically charged element, but it seems the trend is moving towards Myanmar.
Another matter is what will happen to Burmese cat? As a politically correct version I suggest renaming it to Meownmar cat.


20120710-143630.jpgAt some point of my life I toyed with the idea of replacing Swedish/Finnish äö with the mode stylish Danish/Norwegian æø. In all the four languages the letters serve the same function, but the Danish/Norwegian counterparts convey way more style and design. I was obsessed with the idea to such a degree that I had even planned ordering a DiNovo Edge keyboard from Denmark, but the export price set me back, so I had to settle with the umlauts instead. Maybe one day the grand idea of King Bluetooth of uniting the three crowns will come into fruition, language refor will take place and long boats will be built once again causing havoc all over Europe. On that note, nowadays it is hard to believe that these peaceful Nordic counties were once involved in a bloodshed going on for many centuries. All the castles in the area were built for the reason after all.

Danish language looks like Swedish and sounds like German. More specificaly it lacks the joy of Swedish language, but has the harshness of German. Not a fair trade methinks. Unlike Dutch Danish people do no get offended when they are mistaken for Germans, at least those I asked about. Place names sound like mythical places from fantasy novels, eg. Naerum, Dysselgård, Solrød and so on. A nice change from international brand sounding place names in Sweden. In a true viking fashion many men wear full grown beards. Danish women look, well, Danish, kind of Scandinavian but with a German touch. It is not Germany yet, but all the influences are there.