I realise I’m years behind the music here, but on reading the Times of India earlier this week, I came across a place I’d never heard of called Kalkota. It was obviously quite a big town, because an awful lot of journos seemed to be based there. “Kalkota very very important place for goodness sake,” said the bartender at one of my regular haunts when I asked him about it, “Second only to Delhi good gracious me John, surely you are not that ignorant?”
I thanked him for the compliment, but it was only when he pronounced the name that I realised it was Calcutta. So if you’ve been wondering in recent years whatTF the Kalkota Cup is, now you know.
People and places are not what they used to be. The long-dead Mao Tse Tung became Moisha Dung, and his capital city Peking is now Beijing. However, nobody asks for Beijing duck at the Chinese takeaway, do they? Saigon became Ho Chi Minh City (a typical piece of Communist cult-celebration) and Leningrad reverted to being St Petersburg.
In other words, names change because some anal retentive somewhere doesn’t like Western phonetics, or a totalitarian ideologue with nothing better to do wants to prove every citizen is equal by naming a place after a Man-God.
This all comes under the heading of pointless crap for me, but there are times when I bend a little and think, ‘Why shouldn’t everyone have a go at this nonsense?’ I am after all an Existentialist and thus committed to the concept of achieving at least some type of change during my allotted span. As Big seems to be the only size allowed to mess about with names, I think it would striking a blow for the Common Man were I to succeed in leaving behind something future generations could read and say, “That was a supremely daft and self-indulgent gesture to have worked for”.
For most of the people who inhabit Manchester – my home town in England – the place is called Minchosta….as in the famous soccer-fan chant “Minchosta lalala, Minchosta lalala”. The suburb where I was born is spelt Blackley, but the locals call it Blake-lee. How much more exotic it is to hail from Blake-lee in in Minchosta. I mean, how cool is that?
Fooling around with phonetics in this manner represents a rich seam of never-ending fun. Some years back, the famous ancient Celtic Welsh Queen Boadicea became Buddica – and then Bouddicca. Quite why anyone thinks they know the “correct” pronunciation of a woman’s name from 1,988 years ago is beyond my ken, but just to confuse the crap out of us further still, her name in Welsh is Buddug.
Let’s face it, there’s enough difference between Boadicea and Buddug to introduce a wealth of mistaken identity possibilities into this equation. One clue may lie in the fact that she led a rebellion against the Roman invaders; perhaps the idea was to confuse the forces of the Empire.
“I’m Boadicea,” shouts one woman after the battle.
“Codswallop!” yells another, “I am Buddug the impaler of centurions”.
“No, I am Owen Jones,” insists a man confusingly, “and I yam the only Welsh Queen in the village”.
Wherever the truth may lie, She Beginning with B died at the age of 31, having failed to expel the legions of Rome. But before retiring to nineteen centuries of pinching ladies’ bottoms, these imperialist swine left behind the name Londinium as an everlasting stain on our national independence. As Owen Jones might remark, this reminder of colonial supremacism must now be smashed.
However, it may surprise some of you to know this, but the original name for London was Plowonidonjon….named after, would you believe, a Welsh king. It won’t surprise you to know that some self-appointed smartarse says that in ancient Welsh, p’s were silent….so allegedly, it was really Lowonidonjon. (On this flakey basis, Pwllheli would’ve been wllheli, or phonetically thwelli. A tummy bug in that town was thus quite probably referred to as Thwelli belly).
Anyway, in Latin grammar it was a very short step indeed from Lowonidonjon to Londinium. So rather than denigrate Rome, perhaps we should pillory Owen Jones as the spawn of Welsh scumracistbigotfascist nationalism…..and demand a name for our capital city more in keeping with these incorrect times of regionalism.
Johnsonium is soooo last year, darlings. And Sadiqon is just a tad too obvious. But London became Lundenburh once Edward the Confessor settled there…and when burh became too confusing (as Lunden boroughs were established) it finally settled down as London.
So my proposal is that we should eradicate all the Welsh, Norman and Latin nonsense, and revert to Lunden. The name should change immediately after we finally break free from the Empire of Eunacy. Ever afterwards, anyone spelling it otherwise will be sent to Koventree.