Monday, February 10, 2014

James Taranto provided this tease for a link to a WAPO post (second bullet, below):

Question and Answer--IV
  • "Sacha Baron Cohen to Play Villain in Alice in Wonderland Sequel?"--headline, , Jan. 22
  • "Yes, Kazakhstan Should Change Its Name. This Map Shows Why."--headline, Washington Post website, Feb. 7
The blog post is a hilarious (an hilarious with silent "h"?) collection of flipped cause-and-effect which even one affected by dyslexia could see, not to add the not-plural typo.

In execution, the Myanmar government was just as unsuccessful at accomplishing this as it was at everything else it set out to do. The name Myanmar turns out to derive from a literary word for the Burmese ethnic group. And many activists and Western media outlets still refuse to recognize the new name because they see the country's government as illegitimate. So it was not a successful name change, but the point is that there is precedent for dropping a country name that is based on the country's largest ethnic group.
Even though the renaming of "Burma" to "Myanmar" was not successful, it provides a precedent for other countries to follow? Mind-numbing!

A better example might be Thailand, which has changed its name to and from "Siam" a couple of time. 
Is it time for English to drop [the] plural[s]? Yes, it's only a blog post which might make sense in Thai (if there are no plurals). And, based on the recounted history, shouldn't this read "...has changed its name from and to 'Siam'..."?
...In 1939, though, Siam's fascist military leader changed the country's name from Siam to Thailand, after the country's largest ethnic group, the Thai. He was backed by fascist-era Japan, his ally...
Why "fascist-era Japan"? Couldn't one also say "fascist-era China"? Is all about time, isn't it?

I guess it is a set-up for (emphasis added):
When Thailand and Japan lost World War Two and the Thai military government stepped down, the country's name was changed back to Siam.
 But then,
But then, in 1948, the same Thai military fascist who had declared war on the United States a few years earlier returned to power, with Western backing as an anti-Communist bulwark. He changed the country's name again, in 1948, to drive home his antagonism toward Communist China. If it were not for the Cold War, this probably would not have been allowed and Thailand would still be called Siam today.
So the military fascist change's the name to Thailand, again, but after the fascist-era was over, at the beginning of the Cold War era.
Kazakhstan is in sort of a similar position. 
I'm trying to decide which similar position.
There's no indication that Kazakhstan is on the verge of a similar national identity crisis over what it means to be a Kazakhstan citizen, and having a confused national identity does not in itself create crises. But the country has partly resisted these problems by being a dictatorship with little political competition and vast natural resources. 
There is nothing like a dictatorship to stave off national identity crises.

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