Naming countries in English is generally pretty straightforward. You just say the name and, well, that’s it. France, Germany, Ireland etc. But while having a look at where my blog visitors came from yesterday (I’m always intrigued by where you all come from), I noticed a few cases of country names that require just a little bit more grammar. Those were: the Netherlands, the Philippines, and the United Arab Emirates. Not a huge difference, but obviously, these countries are always preceded by the.
You can probably think of a few more similar names: the United States, the United Kingdom, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Ukraine, the Czech Republic, the Bahamas, and so forth. But why do these countries get special treatment? Continue reading
An acronym is a word formed whereby each letter represents the first letter(s) of a word. For example:
radar (radio detection and ranging)
laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation)
and… Pakistan. You might not expect the name of a country to be an acronym, but such is the case with Pakistan. While the name means Land of the Pure in Urdu and Persian, it was first coined by Choudhry Rahmat Ali, a Pakistan Movement activist advocating for the creation of an independent state from India’s Muslim-majority regions.
The name was derived from the names of the five northern regions of the British Raj: Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh, and Baluchistan. The i was added for ease of pronunciation. Sometimes there’s an interesting history behind a name of a place we don’t think too much about, and it can tell us a lot about a country.
It’s a pretty common cliché by now that Greenland is actually very icy, and Iceland is… well, not green all the time, but certainly is some of the time in some areas, and definitely isn’t always icy!
So why the apparently contradictory names then? Continue reading