Dateline: Myanmar

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YANGON, Myanmar (AP)- Soldiers with automatic rifles fired into crowds of anti-government demonstrators Thursday, killing at least nine people in the bloodiest day in more than a month of protests demanding an end to military rule.

Bloody sandals lay scattered on some streets as protesters fled shouting “Give us freedom, give us freedom!”

burma11.jpg

On the second day of a brutal crackdown, truckloads of troops in riot gear also raided Buddhist monasteries on the outskirts of Yangon, beating and arresting dozens of monks, witnesses and Western diplomats said. Japan protested the killing of a Japanese photographer.

Daily demonstrations by tens of thousands have grown into the stiffest challenge to the ruling junta in two decades, a crisis that began Aug. 19 with rallies against a fuel price hike then escalated dramatically when monks began joining the protests.

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So, there you go. That’s the story.

I have to admit something here. Until January first of this year, I was a working Journalist in a major market and I never knew Burma had even changed it’s name!!!!! I’m embarrassed by that and frankly, it doesn’t bode well for the American media. I’ve retired from the mike , camera and the lights. but I suspect I’m fairly representative of those still in the biz. And honestly, I didn’t know.

I doubt most of them do either.

Yep kids…Burma is now Myanmar.

I recent days, I’d be half ass listening to news reports on TV and I kept hearing the anchors talking about “Myanmar”.

Myanmar?

I thought maybe Donald Trump just bought a new palatial seaside estate in Florida and that’s what he named it.

I thought it was a new man made textile. As in “I just bought a sweater and it’s a cotton-poly-Myanmar blend”.

But no, I was wrong. Myanmar is what the global citizenry now calls Burma. Well, in English anyway.

When did it change and why? Burma was a PERFECTLY good name! There’s always been great Scorched Earth Policy that Burma adhered to. And I think I’ve smoked some really great Burmese pot once or twice in my life.

I hate all these changes. When I was a fledgling reporter learning the ropes of the vile, nasty world of Broadcast Journalism, I remember having to learn all the datelines.

Datelines are at the top of this story. It’s a print addendum mostly and it always signifies where the story is taking place.

Twenty years ago, Kabul, Afghanistan was pronounced ka-BOOL. Qatar was always kah-TAR.

Then all of a sudden, CH-CH-CH-CHANGE!

Kabul is now pronounced “cobble” and Qatar is “kotter”.

Huh? Did we just get more hip and try to capture a truer pronunciation that’s more authentic to the regional the plays host to these cities? Or were these always the correct pronounciations and we arrogant Americans just bastardized them to suit our arogant American, empirical needs? Our American language?

Please…

The greatest challenge to people, organizations and countries too, is the balance between continuity and change. You need both. At different times, the balance is slightly more over here, or slightly more over there, but you need both.

OK fine, I get it.

So, with that we—I recognize Myanmar. Out with the old Burma and in with the new name. But I think it’s a very sad statement that so many people like me are learning about the name change because the story that follows the country’s new dateline is about bloodshed.

Tragic.

Well, gotta go. I have to run to the pet store to buy some little white mice for my friend Brad’s Myanmarese python.

Now, that name is just wrong!!

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14 comments

  1. Actually, Qatar is pronounced more like ‘gutter,’ except you kind of swallow the g as you say it.

    Don’t ask me how I know.

    And after this week’s news in Myanmar, it makes one wonder why the U.S. didn’t make the Burma Road in WW II the entire width of the country.

  2. Frontier Former Editor.
    We all know it’s Sri Lanka, what’s your point(bonus or otherwise)?
    LK.
    “retired from the mike, camera and the lights”. How come you say you are going to be on TV soon. This confuses me (not that this is difficult).

  3. I’m retired from working in Broadcasting “full time”. I was in the biz up until 1.1.07.

    I made it clear in the earlier post (or I thought I did, anyway) that I was going to be a guest on a show. Retirement doesn’t preclude me from still appearing as the occasional guest in a TV or radio show. Such as the case with my upcoming appearance.

  4. OK Laurie, I just wanted some clarification. Although I will probably not be able to see it(unless it is posted on YouTube, or the like)I,of course, wish you the best.

  5. The pronunciation thing probably comes from those overbearingly PC types at NPR who just have to rrrrrollll those letters when they pronounce Spanish names with their mid-western accents.

    The ladies
    Take one whiff
    And purr —
    It’s no wonder
    Men prefer
    BurmaMyanmar-Shave

  6. We could all benefit from the class called, “New Century Geography” offered at the local community college. Thankfully Minnesota is still called Minnesota…for now.

  7. Oh, no point at all. It was an attempt at rhetorical humor. I’d already assumed that most folks here knew what Ceylon is now, and I didn’t try to pound it into the ground by making any references to Tamil Tigers or accusations of Arthur C. Clarke as a child molester.

  8. So I saw this on a Time article:

    [NOTE: The junta that runs the country imposed a systematic name change several years ago, decreeing that Burma was to be called Myanmar and the capital Rangoon was to be Yangon. The opposition has never accepted these changes; neither has the U.S. government. TIME continues to use Burma and Rangoon.]

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