Monday, February 28, 2011

It's Time to Replace the Anglicized Place Names in Bangladesh with Bangla (Bengali) Names


Map of Bangladesh
Map courtesy:

Every year in February we observe the Ekushey February (Bangla Language Martyrs’ Day) and the International Mother Language Day with much fanfare. The goal of these two observances is to give importance to our mother languages. Yet, on our own backyard, we have some issues that need to be tackled.

We need to think deeply about replacing Anglicized place names in Bangladesh with Bangla names they had before the British changed them. These Anglicized place names are used when speaking or writing in English. Although the British left India 64 years ago, we are still carrying on the double standard of using Anglicized place names when speaking or writing in English, but using Bangla place names of the same when speaking or writing in Bangla.

When the British conquered different regions of India, they began to pronounce and write local place names completely different from their original ones. These Anglicized names might have been easy for them to pronounce or write, but they were totally a disgrace to the original pronunciation.

President H. M. Ershad was bold enough to officially change the Anglicized name of the capital city of Bangladesh. He got it corrected to ‘Dhaka’ in place of ‘Dacca.’

It is interesting to see that later, the Indian government, too, changed the names of ‘Calcutta’ to ‘Kolkata,’ ‘Bombay’ to ‘Mumbai,’ ‘Bangalore’ to ‘Bengaluru’ and ‘Madras’ to ‘Chennai.’

Bangladesh still has got a good number of Anglicized names that need to be changed according to local Bangla pronunciations. These Anglicized names along with their Bangla names are:

Astagram (Oshtogram)

Bandarban (Bandorbon)

Baraigram (Boroigram)

Barguna (Borguna)

Barisal (Borishal)

Bhedarganj (Bhedorganj)

Biral (Birol)

Bogra (Bogura)

Chittagong (Chattagram)

Comilla (Kumilla)

Habiganj (Hobiganj)

Ishurdi (Isshordi or Iswardi)

Jessore (Joshohor)

Jhenaida (Jhenaidoho)

Kalaroa (Kolaroa)

Kalmakanda (Kolmakanda)

Khagrachari (Khagracchori)

Lakshmipur (Lokkhipur)

Madhupur (Modhupur)

Maheshkhali (Moheshkhali) Island

Manpura (Monpura)

Maulvibazar (Moulobibazar)

Mohanpur (Mohonpur)

Mymensingh (Moymonshingha)

Nandigram (Nondigram)

Narail (Norail)

Narsingdi (Norshingdi)

Palash (Polash)

Saidpur (Syedpur or Soidpur)

Sandwip (Shondip) Island

Sarisabari (Shorishabari)

Satkhira (Shatkhira)

Savar (Shavar)

Sirajganj (Shirajganj)

Sonargaon (Shonargaon)

Sreemangal (Sreemongol)

Sunamganj (Shunamganj)

Sylhet (Silet or Srihotto)

Tungipara (Tongipara)

The name ‘Cox’s Bazar’ should remain the same because it is the name given after the British Captain Hiram Cox (died in 1799), who was in-charge of this place and earned a good name with the local population, because of his compassionate rehabilitation work among the Arakan refugees who came there from Burma.

The Bangladesh Jatiyo Parishad (parliament) needs to come up with a bill that will make the Anglicized place name changes a reality.

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