How often do people call the city Mumbai and how often Bombay?

The Media Guardian used Google Insights to show the relative use in ninety days by British web users – the use of Mumbai has greatly increased in the past days. There’s a breakdown by region and a map too.

Alexander Svensson at Wortfeld tried it out for Germany. The results are strikingly different from those in Britain.

The Guardian article also quotes the style guides of various newspapers and comments on their practice. It seems that Bollywood is not to become Mollywood.

Times Online is still using the word Bombay but it seems times are changing. A memo from a senior editor emailed to Times staff today and seen by reads:

“Key to policy at The Times on the usage of place names is that they are adjudged to be recognisable to a majority of our readers. After the events that started on Wednesday the name Mumbai has been used extensively in other media to which our core British readership is exposed.

“It would be foolish to ignore that context. We also have a global online audience to consider.

“We will be changing our style from December 1, so that we also use Mumbai for the city that we have previously referred to as Bombay. On occasion, it will be appropriate still to use a phrase such as ‘formerly known as Bombay’. In the meantime we will adopt a formula that talks of ‘Bombay, also known as Mumbai’.

“We will carry on considering place names, case by case, in a pragmatic way. So, in the Indian context, we will continue with Calcutta and Madras unless and until there appears to be an equally strong case for change. The linguistic heritage of what we will call Mumbai will live on in references to Bombay duck, Bombay gin and, of course, Bollywood.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.