Capital spelling

By bne IntelliNews March 21, 2013

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Now that Mongolia is firmly on the international investment map, an online campaign has been launched to ensure that the country's capital is spelled correctly, as "Ulaanbaatar".

With massive projects going ahead in the natural resources sphere, including the development of the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold deposit and the Tavan Tolgoi coalfield, Mongolia is rarely out of the headlines in the business press, especially with the ongoing struggle for supremacy between the Mongolian government and mining giant Rio Tinto.

But many Mongolians have been irked by the continuing use of the Russian spelling of their capital, Ulan Batar or Ulan Bator, not to mention numerous other variations. While Mongolian, like Russian, uses the Cyrillic script, the two languages have different spellings for the Mongolian capital, with the Mongolian version correctly transcribed into Latin as "Ulaanbaatar".

The name Ulaanbaatar - the Mongolian translation of "Red Hero" - was given to the city in 1924, when it became the capital of the Mongolian People's Republic. Previously, the settlement had several titles including Urga and Khuree.

Munkhdul Badral, owner of the Cover Mongolia newswire, has even launched an online campaign at the change.org website, urging the English speaking world to, "Please spell Mongolia's capital correctly, 'Ulaanbaatar' not 'Ulan Bator'."

As of March 18, the petition had attracted 343 supporters, some posting comments including "Ulaanbaatar is the capital of Mongolia and this is the way we Mongolians spell it".

Munkhdul Badral is also the initiator of a another petition linked with spelling, "It's 'Chinggis Khaan' not 'Genghis Khan'," pointing out to English speakers that, "Genghis is just simply not how it's pronounced. How would you like it if George Washington was spelled Jorj Vashington?"

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