TA J I K I S TA
re you aware of the political and symbolic meanings in toponyms? Geographers consider the naming of a place a fundamental way of taking possession of it and promoting unity among citizens. But renaming a place can also serve as a strategy for dispossessing people of land they have historically claimed, or for weakening a people’s attachment to a place. To a geographer, toponyms are often more than mere names. Not all toponyms reﬂect the past in this way, and some are interesting just for their oddity. Perhaps you have heard of Hot Coffee, Mississippi, or Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
Toponyms, or What Is in a Name?
WHAT A GEOGRAPHER SEES
PA K I S TA N
New Delhi Jaipur
E P A L Lucknow
I N D I A Nagpur
Thane Kalyan Pune Mumbai (Bombay)
a. This monument commemorates the defense of Leningrad (“Lenin’s City”) against the Nazis in World War II. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, the citizens voted to restore the pre-Soviet name, St. Petersburg. This deeply symbolic act removed the name of Lenin, founder of the Soviet Union, and re-honored Peter the Great, who helped modernize Russia.
Panaji Marmagao B
Arabian Bengaluru (Bangalore) Sea Mangalore Kozhikode (Calicut)
Chennai (Madras) Puducherry (Pondicherr Maduri
Disputed border 0 0
Because of the long period of contact in the borderlands between the United States and Mexico, many Spanish vocabulary words have diffused into English. You know a number of these—enchiladas, frijoles, tortillas—largely because of the popularity of Mexicanstyle food. But words such as rodeo and mesa also reﬂect other Spanish contributions to the English vocabulary. As with African American English, not all Mexican Americans use Chicano English.
Standard Dialects When different dialects of a language are spoken in an area, one may be designated or become accepted as the standard dialect, the norm or authoritative model of language usage. You will, for example, sometimes hear references to Standard British English or Standard Russian. The selection of a standard dialect may reﬂect the dominance of a given way of speaking. It is more likely, however, to reﬂect a
122 CHAPTER 4 Geographies of Language
500 Miles 500 Kilometers
way of speaking that is associated with high socioeconomic or educational status or political power. Thus, the standard dialect may be perceived by some as a prestige dialect. A phrase, such as “the Queen’s English,” not only refers to the dialect that became the standard in the United Kingdom but also associates that dialect with status, power, and authority. In the United States, network standard (see page 118) comes the closest to being a standard dialect. Use of a standard dialect brings a consistency to the way a language is written and spoken. Standard dialects are preferred in business, government, education, and mass media, such as television and radio. Beginning in the 1950s, government ofﬁcials in China selected Northern Mandarin as the country’s ofﬁcial language and standard dialect and have been promoting its use ever since, despite the fact that millions of Chinese use other dialects, such as Cantonese and Shanghainese. The phrase “Mandarin policy” refers to the government’s active efforts to spread Northern Mandarin for the sake of national unity.
Published on Sep 3, 2013