Reporters on the Job

My (Almost) Dinner With the President: A year ago, staff writer Sara Miller Llana and her husband had gone out to dinner to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. Who should walk in? President Vicente Fox and family. "My husband, who is not a journalist, kept telling me to go introduce myself," says Sara. "But I really didn't think it was appropriate and wanted my husband to be the focus of my attention that evening. To justify my decision, I relied on what I knew about Mexico from history books: presidents virtually disappear after their term in office. 'He's leaving,' I told my husband. 'He's going to step out of the picture.' Little did I know, however, what a big story Mr. Fox would continue to be!" (see story).

Burma or Mynamar? In 1989, the military regime changed the name from Burma to Myanmar. But the name for the South Asian country has been disputed since the 1930s. Both of these English names come from the two Burmese names for the country: Myanma and Bama, respectively. Like many languages throughout the world, Burmese has different levels of usage. Myanma is the name for the country in the high literary form, whereas Bama is the common colloquial name that is derived from Myanma.

The British referred to the colony as Burma. Like many postcolonial nations, in 1989 the government renamed places that had been Anglicized by the British. For example, the former capital Rangoon reverted back to Yangon. But the junta only changed the country's name in English, not in Burmese.

Renaming the country Myanmar is also a reflection of the ruling junta's suspicion of the colloquial Burmese language, which many generals consider subversive, according to experts. Since the ruling junta is unelected, many human rights groups, as well as the US, Britain, and Canada, still refer to the country as Burma (see story).

– Matthew Bradley

Asia editor

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