Friday, February 07, 2014

East Sea?

The legislators in the US State of Virginia has enacted a law requiring all school textbooks to state that the Sea of Japan has two names. This sea, between Japan and Korea, has always been called the Sea of Japan in English, but people of Korean descent in Virginia has claimed that the Korean name should also be included. They say the single reference to the name Sea of Japan make them feel hurt, because it is the Japanese name and Japan occupied Korea for some decades before and during the Second World War. The Korean name of this sea is, in translation to English, East Sea.

Well, in English, the sea between Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, and Denmark is called the Baltic Sea. The Swedish, Danish, and German names are essentially the same, and would be East Sea, if translated into English. Perhaps people in Virginia of Swedish, Danish, and German descent should also whine about the name of a sea in school text books, claiming that the Baltic Sea should also be called East Sea?

I think the legislators in Virginia have made fools of themselves. You cannot, you should not try to, alter traditional names in your own language by legislation, neither for politically correct reasons, as in this case, nor for any other reasons that I can think of. I do not only say this because of my own Japanese roots as a Shiba Inu, I think this must be a general rule for any legislators.

I wonder what the rest of the English speaking world will do. The most probable thing is, they will not do anything. If the new alias for the Sea of Japan ever comes into general use, it will not be anytime soon.

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