In a surprise announcement, the government of Tamil Nadu has changed the names of over a thousand cities and districts in the state to make their spellings closer to their Tamil pronunciation.
The news came after the order, passed by the Edappadi Palaniswami government on April 1, came into effect on Wednesday after being notified.
Under the new rules, Coimbatore is set to by Koyampuththoor, Mylapore is now Mayilaappor and Vellore is now Veeloor.
Here are some other examples of the phonetic names that the government has given to 1018 places.
VOC Nagar is now Va.OO.Si. Nagar, Puducherry is Puthucherry, Dharmapuri is Tharumapuri.
While the change was clearly brought in to please the Tamil population in the state, many on social media including opposition leaders slammed the move on Twitter.
Sivaganga MP Karti P Chidambaram called it "a totally nonsensical exercise". "Is this a priority now? What will be the cost of repainting all boards, signages etc?" he tweeted. Others felt that, coming in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the timing of the move was not right and would only add to the state's expenditure.
YouTuber Madan Gowri said that while he's "glad" that the names of cities were restored to their original Tamil names, he would be happy if caste pride was also abolished. He wasn't the only one Many took to the hashtag #NameChange to tweet their grievances against the decision.
I'm glad names are changed based on our original city's Tamil Names. I will be happy if caste system is abolished based on our original culture. #namechange— Madan Gowri (@madan3) June 11, 2020
Instead of changing names if you remove caste system it will be so much better. #NameChange pic.twitter.com/Mn7ldP08FM— Anonymous India (@journalistboii) June 11, 2020
Another Twitter user by the name of "Dusky Tamizhachi" also called the renaming of anglicized names was an "exercise in waste" and "ill-timed".
The renaming of anglicised names into Tamil is another exercise in waste and an ill timed move. If the Govt had wanted only Tamil moves, it should have concentrated on removing use of Sanskrit words from Tamil names & literatures. That would have made Tamil richer and purer.— Dusky Tamizhachi (@TamizhRatsaschi) June 11, 2020
Yet others made jokes and memes at the unexpected turn of events.
How many kilometers from Shaennaih to Veelooooorrrr?— RadhakrishnanRK (@RKRadhakrishn) June 11, 2020
So then why is it still tamil nadu and not THAMIZH NAADU?#NAMECHANGE pic.twitter.com/V9eluStTej— manojnatarajan (@manoj_jonam14) June 11, 2020
#NAMECHANGEAfter seeing the new names of cities in Tamil Nadu.Le North Indians: pic.twitter.com/o1Y0ybZJ0Q— Shubham Mohapatra | शुभम महापात्रा (@SM__TWEET) June 11, 2020
This is an actual govt order changing names of places in Tamil Nadu to reflect their exact English pronunciation.Coimbatore is now Koyampuththoor, Vellore is Veeloor, Sholinganallur is Solinganalloor and Mylapore is now Mayilaappoor. https://t.co/GaD1iABUZg— Prajwal (@prajwalmanipal) June 11, 2020
Why pa? They just changed English names to Tamil— RazoRSharP (@eziind) June 11, 2020
Dedicated to the government of Tamil Nadu that is busy with extremely important engagements like changing names of existing places than be bothered about silly useless things like Covid relief! Viruses come and go! ♂️Who cares about a few people dying after all! ♂️ pic.twitter.com/1v2R3WosWm— मङ्गलम् (@veejaysai) June 11, 2020
Is this important now during this pandemic situation...#NAMECHANGE pic.twitter.com/9z4xIWAmud— Gowthaman (@GowthamanCSK) June 11, 2020
The move, nevertheless, won the support of many who hailed the Palaiswamy government and welcomed the "move toward decolonisation".
IMK welcomes the move of de-colonisation of English names to Tamil. We thank @mafoikprajan for this permanent change. Thank you sir. pic.twitter.com/SkNkLaVj2V— Indu Makkal Katchi ( Official ) (@Indumakalktchi) June 11, 2020
You can't see these English names on boards elsewhere hereafter!Egmore-EZHUMBOORPoonamallee-POOVIRUNTHAVALLIGuindy-GUINDIAdyar-ADAIYAARUMaylapore-MAYILAAPPOORStThomas Mt-PARANGIMALAIErode-ERODUVellore-VELOORCoimbatore-KOYAMPUTHTHOORTuticorin-THOOTHTHUKKUDI#NameChange— R K (@radkrishvl) June 11, 2020
The news came even as the state recorded 1,927 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the total tally up to nearly 37,000 and 326 deaths. The TN government has ordered an inquiry after reports of nearly 200 COVID-19 deaths in Chennai going unregistered in the state's records.