No International Laws Govern The Christening Of Countrie

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No international laws govern the christening of countries; the label
that sticks is determined by the tastes or even the sanity of its
rulers. Anti-colonialism, however, is the most common rationale for
national renaming.

Filipinos have long bristled at the colonialistic implications of calling
their country the Philippines, in honor of Philip II of Spain. During
the regime of Ferdinand Marcos, there was a campaign to rename the
country "Maharlika", a native word meaning noble and aristocratic.

Plans for the rechristening proceeded apace until an academic pointed out
that the word was probably derived from Sanskrit.

Fine, its proponents said, Sanskrit is a non-imperialist language.

Yes, replied the scholar, but "Maharlika" was most likely derived from the
words "maha lingam," meaning "great phallus."

That was the end of the campaign.