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    Tamil Nadu withdraws order to re-name 1,018 cities and neighbourhoods

    Tamil Nadu withdraws order to re-name 1,018 cities and neighbourhoods

    Tamil Nadu withdraws order to re-name 1,018 cities and neighbourhoods
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    By Jude Sannith   IST (Updated)

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    Coimbatore will stay Coimbatore and not be called Koyampuththoor — even if only for the moment. The Tamil Nadu government’s decision to re-name 1,018 cities, towns and localities so as to let their English names represent their authentic Tamil pronunciation, has been withdrawn.

    Coimbatore will stay Coimbatore and not be called Koyampuththoor — even if only for the moment. The Tamil Nadu government’s decision to re-name 1,018 cities, towns and localities so as to let their English names represent their authentic Tamil pronunciation, has been withdrawn.
    The state’s minister for Tamil culture, K Pandiarajan, wrote on Twitter that the government was “absorbing feedback”, before “re-issuing” orders to re-name these places.
    “We are working on alignment of views by experts on Transliteration standards from Tamil to English. Hopefully, we should get this released in 2-3 days,” said Pandiarajan, “The government order on the change of English names for Tamil names for places has been withdrawn. We will absorb all feedback and reissue, shortly.”
    Flawed idea of phonetic accuracy?
    The state’s decision to re-name several popular towns and neighbourhoods has come under heavy criticism not just for its timing — in the middle of the debilitating COVID-19 Pandemic — but also for its choice of spellings in the pursuit to lean towards Tamil phonetics. For instance, the state decided to re-name Coimbatore to  ‘Koyampuththoor’, Vellore to ‘Veeloor’, and Tuticorin to ‘Thooththukkudi’.
    Worse still were the renaming of Chennai’s neighbourhoods Egmore to ‘Ezhumboor’ and Mylapore to ‘Mayilapoor’, so as to account for the Tamil suffix ‘oor’ to denote a place of dwelling and the use of ‘zh’ to denote authenticity to these pronunciations. It didn’t spare localities like Adyar (renamed to ‘Adaiyaaru’), either.
    In fact, CNBCTV18.com published this piece a few days ago, suggesting that the avid Tamil-speaker’s left-field approach to spelling and extra emphasis on syllables could have resulted in the mass re-naming of these towns and neighbourhoods.
    Inconsistency in transliteration
    However, in its pursuit for authenticity especially when it comes to the ‘zh’ in names, the state has ironically not pushed for the re-naming of Tamil Nadu, which should in all authenticity be pronounced ‘Tamizh’ Nadu. On the other hand, the decision to substitute English initials in a neighbourhood named VOC Nagar, with the Tamil counterparts, ended up in the locality being renamed ‘Va Oo Si Nagar’. This inconsistency in transliteration has been heavily criticized too.
    “Dravidian ideologue Su Ba Veerapandian said if the government really wanted to help restore the authenticity, it should first provide a standard for English spellings,” said TVS Capital Funds Chairman, Gopal Srinivasan in a tweet. Srinivasan urged the minister to re-consider the re-naming decision saying it wasn’t too late to develop a transliteration standard from Tamil to English.
    But all’s well that ends well, and life goes on. So, even as the government gets back into a huddle to rethink its transliteration standard, Tamil Nadu’s towns and localities will go back to their original names — for now. When the new list of new names is published, one only hopes that we won’t have to call Coimbatore, Koyampuththoor!
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