Miscellany Playing the Name Game

How Burma became Myanma

When a country's name disappears from the map, it is often the result of conquest or collapse. But there is a less violent explanation that proves the pen is at least as mighty as the sword. Perhaps the country has merely changed its name.

The most recent case is Burma, which has just renamed itself Myanma (pronounced Mee-ahn-ma), the name the Burmese, oops, the Myanmans, have always preferred. In April Cambodia, which since 1976 had been known as Kampuchea, became Cambodia again. That was the fifth time in the past 20 years that the country has changed its name. Prince Norodom...

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