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Thursday, September 27, 2007
By Steven L. Taylor
You most likely know it as Myanmar, but it will always be Burma to me
-J. Peterman

One may be wondering as to the whole Burma/Myanmar business. It should be noted that the name issue is quite political, both in terms of internal and international politics. The name change took place because of a political decision by a military junta in 1989. As such the appropriate name has to do with who was (and is) in power. Of course, “Burma” as the country’s name also has origins in the colonial rule of the British, so there’s that angle as well. In terms of international political, neither the the US nor the UK recognize the usage of “Myanmar”.

James Fallows at the Atlantic has two very interesting posts on the subject: here and here.

Please forgive my whimsy at the Seinfeld quote above, but I can’t think about Myanmar/Burma without it coming to mind.

Indeed, below the fold (for your edification and entertainment) are all the Myanmar/Burma references from the Seinfeld classic, “The Foundation” (one of my all-time favorite episodes):

Secretary: Elaine, it’s Mr. Peterman on the phone.

Elaine: (answers the phone) Hello, Mr. Peterman, how are you feeling?

J. Peterman: Elaine, I’ll be blunt. I’m burnt out. I’m fried. My mind is as barren as the surface of the moon. I can run that catalog no longer.

Elaine: What? Well, who’s gonna do it?

J. Peterman: What about you?

Elaine: Me? Why me?

J. Peterman: Why, indeed.

Elaine: Mr. Peterman, you can’t leave.

J. Peterman: I’ve already left, Elaine. I’m in Burma.

Elaine: Burma?

J. Peterman: You most likely know it as Myanmar, but it will always be Burma to me. Bonne chance, Elaine.

[...]

Jerry: Where?

Elaine: Burma.

Jerry: Isn’t it Myanmar now?

[...]

Elaine: Oh, Peterman ran off to Burma, and now he wants me to run the catalog.

Kramer: Where?

Jerry: Myanmar.

Kramer: The discount pharmacy?

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2 Responses to “Speaking of Names…”

  1. NoZe Says:

    Funny…whenever I hear “Burma,” I think of the Monty Python sketch “Penguin on the Television.”

    “Where did that penguin come from anyway?”

    “Maybe it came from next door”

    “Penguins don’t come from next door, they come from Antartica”

    “BURMA!!!”

    “What did you say Burma for?”

    “I panicked!!”

  2. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Actually, that one occurred to me the other day as well.

    However, it slipped my mind this morning.


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