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Lexical Leavings

by Tom Gally



The recent news reports that the country of Yugoslavia has finally disappeared--thus necessitating revisions to many dictionaries and other reference books--reminded me of the difficulty I had some years ago confirming the official English names of several countries.

Many references, including the Encyclopedia Britannica and World Almanac, identified India's official name as "Republic of India," but I could find no Indian government sources that used that expression. Similarly, Ireland is often referred to as the "Republic of Ireland" or "Irish Republic," but neither seems to be official, at least according to this somewhat ambiguous note on the Web site of the Irish Embassy in Washington, D.C.:
The name of the State is Éire, or in the english language, Ireland. The Republic of Ireland Act of 1948 provides for the description of the State as the Republic of Ireland but this provision has not changed the usage Ireland as the name of the State in the english language.
I therefore deleted "Republic of" from the entries for both India and Ireland in a Japanese-English dictionary. I continue to capitalize "English," however.
(February 19, 2003)