Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Israel Place Names May Be Hewbrewized

A place name is a very political thing. The name can imply ownership, historical legacy, or challenge current leadership. One of the key battlegrounds over place names is Israel. Palestinians and some others continue to deny Israel's very existence by excluding it from maps and by using Arab place names rather than the now used Hebrew names. Meanwhile some Israelis feel the English-language place names are a legacy of the British mandate and a form of colonial oppression of Judaism.

The Israeli transportation minister is recommending road signs be in Hebrew and transliterated into Arabic and English rather than using Arabic and English place names. For example, a road sign for יְרוּשָׁלַיִם‎ (Jerusalem) would have the Hebrew but instead of "Jerusalem" the English-language part would show "Yerushalayim" and the Arabic language sign would be whatever Arabic transliteration of יְרוּשָׁלַיִם‎ is, instead of القُدس (al Quds). The minister has stated Israeli nationalism is a big reason why he wants the change. Arabs feel discriminated against and English speakers would have to learn a whole new set of place names.

However, it could make things easier for English speakers. Many places have multiple English-language spellings so the translation process would give each place an official Latin-alphabet spelling standardizing everything.

2 comments:

Dan tdaxp said...

A bad sign, I think, as confident nations don't do this sort of things. Reminds me of renaming Bombay, etc.

At least according to Wiki, Jerusalem's official name in Arabic is Urshalim-Al-Quds. [1]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem

Anonymous said...

or New Amsterdamn