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January 15, 2021

TN withdraws order on replacing anglicised versions of Tamil names of localities

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The Tamil Nadu government has ‘withdrawn’ its order on replacing Anglicised versions of Tamil names of 1,000 plus localities in the state with precise vernacular ones, saying it was working on alignment of views by experts on transliteration standards.

Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture, K Pandiarajan said the government will reissue the order shortly after making necessary changes.

“We are working on alignment of views by experts on Transliteration standards from Tamil to English. Hopefully, we should get this released in 2/3 days,” he said in a tweet.


“The GO on the change of English names for Tamil names for places has been withdrawn. Will absorb all feedback & reissue (it) shortly,” he added.

Though the move had earlier found resonance with Tamil lovers, it also drew flak from many including netizens, who had questioned its timing amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

The government had earlier come up with new spellings in English for 1,000 plus localities in the state, including cities and villages, to precisely reflect the Tamil spelling and pronunciation of such names.

Accordingly, the textile city of Coimbatore was proposed to have been called Koyampuththoor, Vellore as Veeloor and Dindigul as Thindukkal, among others with the issuance of the Government Order.

As per the order dated April 1 and made available to the media last week, the names reflecting the new English spelling were picked after a high-level expert committee considered the suggestions of District Collectors who had recommended a list of anglicised names that needed a Tamil makeover.

An official had said last week that the anglicised versions do not reflect the original Tamil names.

Englishmen could not pronounce Tamil names and they anglicised it to suit them, he had then said about the erstwhile rulers.

Social media posts took potshots at the new English spelling for Tamil names and some posts had the photograph of an actress alongside that of a man in a woman’s attire to underscore that the old name was attractive and popular and the new one was out of place in the present day context.

In Coimbatore, netizens even started an online petition to retain the old name, while other suggested that a simple ‘Kovai’ would do.

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