29 September, 2020

The Place With Bones

The Place With Bones

Almost 24 years since Madras bowed out to Chennai—people still pick bones over it—there was another mad rush for changing place names in Tamil Nadu to appeal to nativist sentiments and thereby score an easy political point. The majority supported the state government’s move this June to rename 1,018 cities, towns and localities to sync with their Tamil phonetic names rather than their Anglicised versions. Yet, the strangest thing transpired—probably the first time a government did a U-turn following objections from “only 10 per cent that did not speak Tamil”. Tamil development minister K. Pandiarajan said as much after the order was withdrawn.

The government announced its plan on June 11, by which Egmore became ‘Ezhumboor’, Coimbatore became ‘Koyampuththoor’, Saidapet became Saithappettai, VOC Nagar in north Chennai was renamed Va Oo Si Nagar and so on. Though the order was dated April 1, the announcement in June drew flak from the public, language experts and historians for being a pointless exercise amidst a...



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