Integrity Legal

25th Apr 2009

Istanbul (Not Constantinople).

After the christening of a “New Rome” in Eastern Europe, Constantine founded Constantinople as both the administrative and political capital of the Roman Empire (thus, moving the capital from Rome and beginning what most scholars refer to as the Byzantine Empire).

In the 1400s, after years of internal turmoil and foreign encroachment, Constantinople fell and was captured by the Ottoman Turks. The fall of Constantinople is seen as the end of the Byzantine Empire and after its capture the use of the name Constantinople fell into decline, although not outright disuse as is mistakenly believed by some. Both the names Istanbul and Constantinople were used somewhat interchangeably until the turn of the twentieth century.

Subsequent to the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, the alternate labels for the city, other than Istanbul, became outmoded. With the promulgation of the Turkish Postal Service Law in 1930, the government of Turkey officially requested foreign correspondents to stop referring to Istanbul with any customary non-Turkish appellations. The refusal of the Turkish government to deliver parcels addressed “Constantinople,” led to a worldwide adoption and use of the name Istanbul.

New York and New Amsterdam

New York was originally founded by Dutch Settlers who gave the major city on Manhattan Island the name New Amsterdam. As the British and Dutch vied for control of the new colony the city’s name was changed. At one point New Amsterdam was rechristened New Orange, but finally, upon a finalized Treaty between the Netherlands and England, the City’s name was fixed as New York which is the way it is identified around the world to this day.

Siam and Thailand

The country today known as Thailand once had the official name of  Siam. In 1939 it was decided that the name should be changed and the current label was promulgated, then it was officially renamed Siam again between the years 1945 and 1949 (the Japanese Occupation of Thailand) after which time the name Thailand was readopted. Many people believe that the word Thai stems from the word “Tai”  which means “free” or “freedom” in the Thai language. This belief is a misconception as Thai actually refers to an ethnic group from the central lowlands of South Eastern Asia. A noted Thai academic is a proponent of the theory that the etymology of the word “Tai” has a meaning more closely translated as “people” or “humanity” because studies of the language has determined that in some non-urban locales the term “Tai” was utilized as a substitute for the conventional Thai word “khon,” meaning people.  That being said, Thais have accepted the apocryphal meaning and will generally explain that Thailand means: Land of the free.

As a side note, Bangkok is not the proper name of the city in Thai. Bangkok’s real name in is:

กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลก ภพนพรัตน์ ราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์ มหาสถาน อมรพิมาน อวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะ วิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

Which translates in English script to:

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

and when translated means (loosely):

The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) 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 Vishnukarn.

If Cities won awards based upon the length of their name, Bangkok would probably be the perennial winner.

Thanks for reading please look through our blog to read about US Immigration and Thai Legal Matters. Or Check out our home page at Bangkok Law Firm

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3 Responses to “Same, but Different: Alternative Names for Cities and Countries”

  1. [...] admin added an interesting post on Same, but Different: Alternative Names for Cities and Countries …Here’s a small excerptMany people believe that the word Thai stems from the word “Tai” which means “free” or “freedom” in the Thai language. This belief is a misconception as Thai actually refers to an ethnic group from the central lowlands of South Eastern … [...]

  2. JaneRadriges says:

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