Query from Hal Schiffman

Elena Bashir ebashir at UCHICAGO.EDU
Fri May 20 14:29:09 UTC 2011

I am posting this query on behalf of Hal Schiffman.  Please send 
responses directly to him: haroldfs at GMAIL.COM 

"I've been asked by a colleague in another (non-South Asian) area of the 
what is the history of colonial city naming in India, and whether it is 
possible to
reconstruct what the "original" names for Bombay/Mumbai, Madras/Chennai, and

Two questions in particular I have is whether (1) Bombay was ever called 
Mumbai by
speakers of other languages of India, other than Marathi, and (2) when 
exactly did the
call for renaming Bombay as Mumbai began?  I'd be interested to know how 
this phenomenon is.

I know that in the case of Madras/Chennai, I never heard of "Chennai" 
when I first went
to Tamilnadu (then called Madras State) in 1965 and only later was there 
a push to rename the

I keep in mind an incident from when I was involved in SEASSI and went 
to Hanoi to
recruit teachers of Vietnamese.  We noticed that when speaking 
Vietnamese, people
referred to Saigon as Saigon, but when speaking English, they called it 
Ho Chi Minh City.
So I'm wondering whether this practice is all current in referring to 
Indian city names.

Hal Schiffman



E. Bashir, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer in Urdu
Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations
The University of Chicago, Foster 212
1130 E. 59th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone:  773-702-8632
Fax:    773-834-3254

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