Is it the Persian Gulf, or the Arabian Gulf? It depends on who you ask.

But Google’s map makers are finding that it’s hard to stay impartial to political conflict when putting a name on a map can cause international tensions to flare. Who gets to name something anyway?

Linguist Daniel Midgley explores names and naming on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Show notes

A quick read from the BBC:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17959145

and a really good article from the Washinghton Monthly: “The Agnostic Cartographer”.
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2010/1007.gravois.html

How does Google label the Persian Gulf? It doesn’t.
http://g.co/maps/bhehh

It’s been called the Persian Gulf for a long time.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Gulf_naming_dispute

It’s weird that conflict would arise between Korea and Japan. Ordinarily they get along so well.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_of_Japan_naming_dispute

Barack Obama showed neutrality by referring to the “Malvinas”. (Okay, he said “Maldives” but you know.)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/falklandislands/9207183/Barack-Obama-makes-Falklands-gaffe-by-calling-Malvinas-the-Maldives.html

Even Apple had to fight for the iPad’s name.
http://www.inc.com/news/articles/2010/01/ipad-trademark-dispute.html