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Thursday, September 13, 2007

WHAT'S IN A NAME?: Our Capital Cities

Pisanu blogging from
Kuala Lumpur
13 - 23 Sept 2007
Cuti-cuti Malaysia!


Yangon is a combination of the two words ''yan'' (enemies) and ''koun'' (run out of). It is also translated as "end of strife". "Rangoon" most likely comes from the British corruption of the pronunciation of "Yangon". The new capital, Naypyidaw means "Royal Palace/City", but is also translated as "abode of kings". The capital's official name was announced in March 2006.

"Bandar” is a Persian word for "port" or "haven" and it also means "town" in Malay. “Begawan” is a name given to Bruneian royalty who have abdicated. Sir Omar Ali Saifuddin – Sultan Bolkiah’s father abdicated in favor of his son in 1967. The Sultan renamed the city to Bandar Seri Begawan in honor of his father in October 1970. Its original name was Bandar Brunei.

Manila got its name from “may Nilad” -- Tagalog for "there is Nilad". A Nilad is a mangrove plant that grows along the bay where the city is located. Maynilad was a Muslim settlement before the Spanish came and made it as the colonial center to control the whole of the Philippines. Maynilad eventually became "Maynila" through the centuries and the Americans corrupted the word to “Manila”.

Singapore came from the Malay words “singa(lion) and “pura(city). According to legend, the name was given by a Malay prince from Sumatra in the 1300s. It is said that when the prince landed on the shores of the island after a thunderstorm – he spotted what he believed to be a lion. Experts believe that what the prince had actually seen was, more likely, a tiger.

Hanoi had many names through history. When Vietnam was dominated by Chinese empires, the city was named Tống Bình, Long Đỗ, and Đại La. The Nguyen Dynasty renamed it Hà Nội which means “Between Rivers” or “River Interior”.

The pioneers of Kuala Lumpur are Chinese tin miners employed by the Malay Chief of Klang. They were sent up river to open new tin mines and set camp on the muddy bank where the rivers of Klang and Gombak meet. “Kuala” means the point where 2 rivers meet and “Lumpur” means muddy. The original spot where the pioneers flourished is where the Jamek Mosque stands today.

Phnom Penh was named after a Buddhist temple on top of a hill called Wat Phnom Daun Penh in the 1300s. The temple was in turn, named after a wealthy old widow Daun Penh or Grandma Penh.

Jakarta is known as Sunda Kelapa before the arrival of the Europeans. It is the center of the Kingdom of Sunda. The city fell to Muslim conquerors in 1557 and changed the name to “Jayakarta”, which means "Great Accomplishment" or "Complete Victory". The Dutch changed it to Batavia until 1942 and the Japanese changed it again to Jakarta based on the original name.

Vientiane came from the native Lao word “Viangchang” which means “City of the Moon”. “Viangchang” is also believed to have come from the Pāli language meaning "The king's grove of sandalwood". The French changed the spelling to "Vientiane" because they have difficulty in pronouncing the “ch” part of the Lao word – as they did to the spelling of Laos.

It is believed that Bangkok’s name came from 2 sources: [1] “Bang(town or village on a riverbank) and “Makok(a kind of fruit bearing plant), [2] “Bang” and “Koh(island). The island is in reference to the area’s landscape where islands are formed by rivers and canals.

The official name of Bangkok is listed on the Guinness Book of Records as the longest place name in the world. It is a requirement for local school kids to memorize and recite our city’s official name:
*in one breath, if possible*

Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit

We only use the first 2 words *for obvious reasons* -- “Krung Thep”. Which simply means the “City of Angels”. *now, if you'll excuse me, I have to practice my harp*


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18 Comments:

EoNe said...

Thank you..I learnt something new today..

Manami said...

errrrr...wow..thats a really really long name. What does it mean?

eyron said...

Even angels can't/will not pronounce that! Hehe, very informative.

Q The Conqueror said...

Why'd they name that to Bangkok anyway? Hehe. Just curious.

Ravi said...

though the word "Singa" is used in malay, the origin is from india. Its a sanskrit word meaning the same - Lion. Please dig deep to find the true origin.

Ravi said...

ok, Here is the origin of the name - singapore.
in sanskrit singa means lion and pur means land or city. thus it became singapur and as usually british messed with the pronounciation and changed to singapore. in tamil its still pronounced as singapur.

Sanne Dee said...

In my impression, I've learnt from the history textbooks that Singa and Pura are malay words unless I haven't paid enough attention.
Maybe Ravi should also name the source he'd found the info from.
Otherwise, it's another piece of interesting info-research, Pisanu!

Why'd Thailand need such a long name?! :)

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

Southeast Asia was dotted with Hindu kingdoms hundreds of years ago. Until the muslim sultanates dominated. Most of our languages are formed from Indian languages like Pali, Sanskrit, Tamil, etc. So there! :-)

Bangkok's official name translated in English is:

"The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukam".

I WAS NAMED AFTER GOD VISHNU! -- Pisanu, wooohoooo!

Bangkok has such a long name for ceremonies.

travelphilippines said...

Bangkok is one of the most sophisticated city name in the world i dopnt but it sound soo posh for me.

Jeff said...

I am going to borrow that translation for my blog! thanks!!

aries said...

aaaah i just thoought of something really baaad....

wahahahahahahahaha

Sofia for BiSEAN said...

I love to say the word J A K A R T A. It's so exotic and strong. Love it!

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

@ Travel...you bet it is! LOL

@ Jeff...hey dude! How have you been? KL was nice eh? Sure, borrow it. :-)

@ Aries...you naughty little princess! I'm sure it was Bang-cock?! LOL

ravi said...

Sanne Dee.......
there are lots info available in the internet , please search the net for more info, dont blindly go by ur history textbooks especially malaysian histroy text books. they r totally unreliable.

For your info more than 60% of malay words are from some or other indian languages. here i list a few:
1. Bumi - land
2. Putra - son
3. singa - Lion
4. Maaf - sorry
5. Umar - age
etc.......

*dAwN said...

singa and pura are really Indian words. "Pali" words to be exact, because our Myanmar language also uses these words in our everday language as our language is also based in the Indian language of Pali. But we pronounce them differently. We say "thiha" as equivalent to singa. (I think we pronounce "s" words as "th" like in "Thida" as equivalent to Sita)

Anonymous said...

that thing about manila rooted from the conjoined words "may nilad" doesn't really hold water for me, although i acknowledge that it came from some filipino textbook.

i never heard of it "origin of manila from "may nilad" growing up young. and also manila does not pre-date older towns in the area like tondo which was already a settlement even before the spaniards came to the philippines.

i maybe wrong though. but looks like the spanish called it manilla, because of the color of the sunset in the bay... which could be golden or coppery at times.

there is a spanish word "manilla"

anza said...

beside bla2 about origin of singapore, the real name for the place is temasek or tumasik. from javanese language mean "looking like sea" or swamp.. and change it to "shing pura" by majapahit imperial after they defeated sriwijaya ..

tumasik also recorded in "palapa declaration" a declaration to unite "nusantara" under one ruler majapahit.. palapa also a first satelite comunnication in SEA used for around ASEAN country.

majapahit is hindus imperium so many indian influence and sriwijaya is Buddhist..

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