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Matt Rosenberg

Mumbai Was Bombay

By November 26, 2008

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Those monitoring the tragic news in Mumbai are wondering, "Where is Mumbai?" Mumbai is the city in India formerly known as Bombay, which India officially changed in 1996. In 2006, the name change finally stuck when the Associated Press announced that it would begin using Mumbai. According to Indian census data, the 2001 population of the Greater Mumbai area was 16,368,084, making it India's largest urban area. The United Nations ranks Mumbai as the world's fifth largest urban area. Mumbai lies on India's west coast, along the Arabian Sea.

Other Indian cities have changed their name - Calcutta became Kolkata in 2001 and Madras became Chennai at the same time as the change to Mumbai, in 1996.


November 27, 2008 at 11:26 am
(1) News junkie says:

Google FACTS about GOA and FACTS about Bombay and you will understand what is truly going on in this city of BOMBAY.

November 27, 2008 at 4:52 pm
(2) John J says:

Evidence that political name changes don’t stick has been shown in the spate of TV and Radio interviews during the current troubles. All the UK loony politically correct interviewers say Mumbai when talking over the satellite links to India, but their Indian counterparts nearly all say Bombay. Good for the Indian chaps I say.

November 27, 2008 at 10:24 pm
(3) Catholicgauze says:

The name change is very political. There are those in “that city” who feel Hindis up north in Delhi are trying to impose their political-cultural whims on the rest of the country. A good thing to know about India is that it is very ethnically diverse. Don’t let the Muslim/Hindu divide blind you to the ethnic divides among the various groups (i.e. Bengali is not Tamil)

December 1, 2008 at 12:40 pm
(4) Kevin says:

It’s just wrong. The English word for “that city” is Bombay. They can call it whatever they want to in India, but in English it is “Bombay”. What, is France going to make us call its capital “Paree”? Yes, when we are in Paris, but no when we are at home speaking English. And I also hate it when people refer to India’s neighbor and best friend as “Pockiestan”. In English, it is pronounced “Packistan”. Yes, I know Obama calls it “Pockiestan”, but I wish he wouldn’t, because it causes Republicans to use that as evidence that he is a Secret Muslim.

December 2, 2008 at 8:00 am
(5) Evan from Maine says:

Well said, Kevin. You hit the nail on the head.

December 2, 2008 at 7:10 pm
(6) Mr. B says:

There are so many cities and countries that are mispronounced or misspoken worldwide (Japan=Nipon & Germany=Deutschland and on and on until our eyes bleed) Who knows why or how it got started? Individual nationalism? Xenophobia? I think countries/cities call themselves what they want and tell the rest of the world how to pronounce it, just don’t get mad when we get confused…

December 2, 2008 at 7:17 pm
(7) chris renyard says:

I am bemused as to the BBC insistence on referring to Bombay as Mumbai

February 23, 2009 at 11:15 am
(8) Derek Potter says:

I have been to India on many occasions and have only heard a couple of local people refer to the city of Bombay as Mumbai.
If you are speaking English the word is Bombay, if you are speaking Hindi then you will refer to it as Mumbai.
On one notable visit to a London pub I was taken to task by a very PC lady who told me that I must refer to it as Mumbai. When I asked her when the last time she was in Bombay she told me she had never been to India! Why doesn’t that surprise me?

March 5, 2009 at 2:14 am
(9) Ted says:

Well, I am facing this problem with my client.

I told my client that I have to name the document as “mumbai” for my filing work, but they insist that it’s “Bombay”, just because of they have to change everything in their filing codes if they change this job’s name to Mumbai.

Don’t know why, I am just so sick of knowing people still name “that city” as “Bombay”. maybe it’s because of the name has been changed since 12 years ago!

I saw your comments above and I’m more confused now.

March 5, 2009 at 3:47 am
(10) Matt Rosenberg says:

Wow Ted, that’s annoying. Imagine if a client still called Russia or Ukraine the USSR.


May 13, 2009 at 4:34 pm
(11) Demetrio Fábrega says:

In Spain they are doing the same. They copy the traditional name for Peking as Beijing which does not reflect the Chines pronunciation. The B is an pronounce blowing air out, more like a P, and thee j is more like an R pronounced by pressing the tongue
above the upper front teeth. The name for the German city Aachen in Spanish is Aquisgrán. I wonder what they will resolve to do because the city is an importante place for the history of Spain. Dublin is pronounced doobleen in Spanish. Will they change that, too? I notice the change after Nixon went to Peking and thought that the political reason was to prevent the American people from learning that he was visiting the
great Far East capital of the axis of evil.
Will the English change the way they write Amritsar in order to erase the masacre of thousand of Indians which the English army committed? Will people forget what the Japanese did in the so-called rape of Nanking, if it is now witten Nanjing?
By the way, Peking means the capital of the North and Nanking the capital of the South (bhei = North and nan = South.) Will they ever decide to write the name of the great American patriot as Thomas Pain?

October 16, 2009 at 8:02 pm
(12) Luis Longart says:

In spanish Bombay is still Bombay, Calcuta continues Calcuta, Madras is Madras, old indian city names remains unchanged in Spanish, I dont understand these changes.

January 21, 2010 at 6:02 am
(13) Chad says:

I’ve live all over the world and I have heard Indians call it both Bombay and Mumbai. Any changes happening so recent will take a couple generations to cement itself. The Portuguese called the place Bom Bahia, meaning ‘the good bay’, which the English pronounced Bombay.

The city changed its name in 1995 to Mumbai, after Mumbadevi, the stone goddess of the deep-sea fishermen who originally lived on the islands before they were driven out by the East India Company.

To Kevin: English speaking people pronouce Pakistan in many ways – Obama has the correct pronounciation of Pakistan, (it is not Packistan, it’s Pakistan and not Pokistan) but then again your pronounciation is still correct as you are stating it with an American Accent. There is no wrong or right accent in pronoucing words. Iraq (american’s pronouce it eyerack) Iran (american’s pronounce it I Ran)

Let’s think of the bigger picture, Let’s think globally!

November 2, 2011 at 2:05 am
(14) Mumbai Places of Interest says:

The name change from Bombay to Mumbai happened in Nov 1995.

Mumbai residents still use BOMBAY sometimes because of nostalgia. Bombay/Mumbai used to be more cosmopolitan in the 20th century.

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