On Wednesday 22 September 2004 20:09, Christian Perrier wrote:
> Quoting Alastair McKinstry (firstname.lastname@example.org):
>> Incidentally, I've a new bug in iso-codes asking
>> for the common name of F.Y.R. Macedonia to be changed to
>> "Macedonia". I think I'll leave that to post-sarge ...
> This is a consequence of a discussion I had with the Macedonian group
> who could possibly work on Macedonian translations.
> It looks like
> there's a quite strong feeling among Macedonian people
> (at least those who care about Free Software)
> against what we currently have in iso-codes.
> I wrote them that this issue first needs to be raised before we (the
> Debian community) can decide what is most appropriate.
> Leaving this post-sarge may hurt the MK people.
> So, if you have the opportunity of modifying iso-codes,
> that would be fine.
> This would avoid some "hey, *they* released sarge with the offensive name"
I doubt it would prevent valiant we-have-been-offended-by-Debian reactions
if 'Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia' were changed to 'Macedonia'.
There is a greek province that is called Macedonia,
and has been called that for a long time.
So there is a conflict of interest here,
because two regions can not have the same name
in contexts where either might be meant,
and Debian is an international project,
so this does apply to Debian too.
Debian can not call them both the same,
just like it can not have two packages with the same name.
The government of Greece,
and presumably also the people of the Greek Province Macedonia,
strongly object to
the former yugoslav republic Macedonia being called Macedonia.
The Greek government seems to do this from the point of view that
it might obscure the perception of naturalness of the right of the
government to decide what happens in Greek Macedonia.
I think the people of Greek Macedonia have a different objection :
they were always called Macedonia,
and now another region is trying to take their name away from them,
which is offensive.
It is possible that the peope of their northernly neighbour state
also used to call their region Macedonia.
Their republic has only come into existence recently,
and this may only have been possible by their perception of
them being part of a people that are 'Macedonians',
that therefore obviously live in 'Macedonia'.
The reality of the matter is that
while formerly these two Macedonias existed in two separate namespaces,
the Republic Macedonia has recently entered the western namespace.
Still, who would want to be called "Former" something ;
that gives the impression that what you are now is not important.
I think Debian has only 2 choices here :
1) use the names 'Republic Macedonia' and 'Macedonia'.
2) use the names 'Republic Macedonia' and 'Greek Macedonia'.
The details of how exactly these names should be
can be bickered over bitterly yet,
but we do need to make the distinction sooner or later,
and so we would better do it right now.
The reason i have used the names 'Republic Macedonia' and 'Greek Macedonia'
to illustrate the choices above
is that they are both names to be proud of.
A republic is a state whose leaders are
not chosen because they were born in one specific family,
so the potential leaders have to compete,
which raises the quality of the leadership.
(I live in a monarchy, and i would trade it in for a republic any day).
A republic is also an independent country,
that can decide for itself what laws it wants
and how it wants to deal with other countrys.
This is something that Greek Macedonia can not claim.
'Greek' is also a very positive qualification :
In one sense it refers to the history and tradition of ancient 'Ellas,
where democracy and logic were invented,
In another it refers to modern Greece, of which i know but little ;
i happened to see mr. Simitis on greek television once,
and i think Greeks can be proud to have ministers like that.
So i think i have chosen names that are acceptable in themselves.
In this my opinion,
Republic Macedonia can not be called 'Macedonia' in Debian.
This is sufficient to resolve the nameconflict,
though not sufficient to completely avoid ambiguity.
I expect Debian to be able to use any names chosen correctly,
so it is not stricly necessary for Debian to go further than this.
International politics's politicians seem to have agreed to
not use 'Macedonia' for Republic Macedonia,
but imo Debian should make the best choice regardless.
The greek government may be unwilling to accept
any other name than Macedonia as a reference to Greek Macedonia,
but as 'Macedonia' does in fact have two possible interpretations,
no matter what choices are made,
i expect in international contexts Greek Macedonia will be referred to as
though not in front of Greek officials,
as this seems to be important to them
and this courtesy does not cost anything.
I think, but it is only my half-informed opinion,
that there is a real chance that the Greek government would
take actions against Debian
if Debian did not call Greek Macedonia 'Macedonia' ;
for a government that forced katharevousa this seems but a little thing.
Afaik Debian does not have an entry for that in any language- or
country-chooser (yet), so we don't seem to have a problem here.
Furthermore, i think that the greek nation and culture (and socker team :-)
are an asset to this world,
and i would not want to unnecessarily antagonize the Greeks.
In the long run i expect that,
Republic Macedonia being a country and Greek Macedonia being a province,
the name 'Macedonia' will be interpreted as referring to Republic Macedonia.
If the macedonian translators want to speed up this expected development,
what better can they do than translate Debian into their language ?
Trying to achieve primacy artificially seems to me an unfruitfull undertaking,
that would not be good for Debian,
so i would like (if i were asked) to advise: "Make Love, not war".
Important for Debian is that _all_ it's developers,
including Republic-Macedonians as well as Greek-Macedonians,
can be part of our undivided FreeSoftware Community
if they so desire.
Christian, Alastair, i'm not CC'ing you because i assume you read -boot.
I am CC'ing -project because this topic needs to be there if anywhere.
Follow-ups to -project only please.
I have also CC'd debian-l10n-hellas,
not only because both sides should be heard,
but also because i am hoping that
everyone that works toward Debian's goals can work together in harmony,
resolving problems among themselves,
better than the politicians have been able to.
I can only hope that
Greek and RepublicMacedonian developers read this on project,
as i didn't find a per-country list of developers on Debian's website.
Christian, could you please forward this to
the group of macedonian translators that is in need of this discussion ?
I wish that this controversy will not prevent the people on either side of
the border to live in peace with their (more or less distant) neighbours.
"Do your own thing !"
-- Jimi Hendrix, not getting caught in the student riots du jour.