Still at Economist, I come across this piece I find interesting. It’s about how people name various things, physical or metaphysical. It goes along well with my earlier post on defining terms:
A menagerie of monikers
Most labels are misleading, sometimes grossly so. Find new ones in 2010
REMEMBER the Levant? Or the Old Dominions, the Trucial States and the Far East? If so, speak softly. Labels are handy ways of sorting out countries by history or geography. But lazily conceived and out-of-date ones are offensive and misleading.
Some reek of colonialism (“Black Africa”) or lingering imperialism (“the near abroad”, Russians’ term for the former Soviet empire). Sheer diversity makes “Eastern Europe” an unhelpful way of talking about the ex-communist countries (see article). Donald Rumsfeld’s description of anti-American “Old Europe” and pro-American “New Europe” was vivid but equally wide of the mark: Atlanticism and opposition to it are present on both sides of the old Iron Curtain.