“A girl dressed as a Hindu goddess sits on the banks of the Ganga, one of India’s holiest rivers,” said a picture caption published on Wednesday. The Ganga? You may think you have never heard of it, but it is in fact our old friend the Ganges.
A creeping geographical correctness seems to have accompanied the spread of English as a world language through the internet. The holy river appears to be the latest victim. It is a long time since the notorious battles of the Nineties had Peking, Bombay and Madras binned in favour of [Beijing, Mumbai and Chennai,] supposedly authentic local names, free of any taint of linguistic colonialism. More recently the madness has even reached Europe, with Leghorn and Corunna replaced by Livorno and La Coruña. How long before we are writing, in English, about Bruxelles, Wien and Firenze? Not too sure where to find Suomi, Magyarország and Hrvatska? Get out the atlas; it may not be long before you need to know.
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