The highest mountain on Earth is known as Sagarmatha (सगरमाथा) in Nepali, meaning “goddess of the sky” and Qomolangma (ཇོ་མོ་གླང་མ) in Tibetan, meaning “holy mother”. The name “Everest” wasn’t given until 1865. Even the guy it was named after objected, and wanted them to keep a local name for it. Sadly, they did not.

The true names of places in the world always sound much nicer than the colonial names to me.

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Heh. Turns out, the name Sagarmatha is even newer than the name Everest! But still, using the Nepalese name makes more sense to me.

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Also, that photograph is by Abhushan Gautam (

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@InvaderXan Sagarmatha: sounds like an exciting, mystic place far away
Mount Everest: sounds like some boring small "mountain" somewhere in Alabama

@InvaderXan @LunaDragofelis did neither of you think how weird it'd be to be a nepali person hearing about how mystic and exotic your language is. my cat's name is nepali and she lives in the West, not "far away" in the Orient. if i was visiting relatives i could be reading this sitting on their ~mystical~ couches as they watch the news in our ~mystical~ language.

yea, it sucks that the popular name for the mountain has this colonialist history. but what you're saying is also disrespectful.

@flambuoyant @LunaDragofelis No one is talking this way about the Nepali language generally. We’re literally talking about a sacred mountain.

@InvaderXan @LunaDragofelis cool ok talk about how the name "sounds" and how you want to use the language of the native people coz it sounds cooler to you and then deny any accountability for how that would come off to anyone who can read

@LunaDragofelis @InvaderXan

"Sagarmatha: sounds like an exciting, mystic place far away"

My first thought was Magrathea. Which is pretty much what you said. :)

@InvaderXan This is prolly just going to annoy you but it wasn't until Colonel Eve Rest (that's how he pronounced his name) completed their survey using trig and a hundred yard metal chain that humanity worked out that the mountain was the highest from sea level. Though it was his predecessor who had done all the hard work. But he died before completion.

@InvaderXan I read a book on the survey it is actually very interesting at one point England was at war with France but they continued a tradition from Napoleon onwards when scientific teams were exempted from arrest or their equipment from seizure. So the survey could complete. Napoleon was the chap who started modern Egyptology a side effect of French colonial ambitions.

@InvaderXan They also used a optical effect that the last sun's rays are deflected by 17 degrees something like that at sunset and sunrise with trig and drawing triangles to speed up the survey.

@InvaderXan So apparently, according to McGill university it had no Nepalese name but had other ones, including the tibetan one you presented, but also:
" However, the ancient name for the mountain is Devgiri (in Sanskrit, it means "holy mountain") or Devadurga (the English pronounced it as deodungha in the 1800s)"

[source: ]

@furkachi Ok, this is cool, nicely found! Devgiri. I shall have to remember that.

@furkachi @InvaderXan but...

My understanding is that Devgiri refers to the sequence of mountains, not to the specific peak in question.

Given that

- The Tibetan people who live on the North side of the Mountain called it Qomolungma
- The Sherpa people who live on the South side of the Mountain called it Chomolungma
- The Nepali people didn’t have a name for it, and invented one in 1960 that’s literally just a translation of Chomolungma
- No one else lived on the Mountain.

Isn’t it clear that the name of the Mountain is Chomolungma? Why use any different name to what the people who have lived on the Mountain have called it since forever?

@dgold @InvaderXan I admit I did not read thd actual paper on it, just the recap from McGill, so I could not give you the specifics :/ Do feel free though if you want! (it's mentioned in my source)

@furkachi @InvaderXan not gonna go into the weeds on specific Devgiri reference, but:

Tibetan and Sherpa languages are not Sanskrit, they’re Western Sino-Himalayan. They derive from a completely different language tree to Sanskrit-IndoEuropean.

Saying that Devgiri is the Sanskrit name of the mountain is like saying that the English name is Everest.

@dgold @InvaderXan okok :o I have to admit I know very little about the libguistics and history of the region. Thanks for the info :D

@InvaderXan Our understanding is that the locals never saw a need to name the mountains in that range until after the white men started showing up, so if anything, all names for that mountain are a result of colonialism.

@KitsuneAlicia It's interesting how much stuff happened in the world because Europeans just assumed that everyone should do stuff the same way as them. Like how Tokyo is full of men wearing business suits. In Thailand they never originally had family names until Europeans showed up.

@InvaderXan Cultural appropriation and cultural expropriation are equally harmful if not done right, and Europeans clearly don't have a clue how to do it right.

@InvaderXan Sounds like you have come across the story. The punchline, imo, is that Sir George Everest pronounced his name "EEV-rest", so "EH-veh-rest" is at least a little not naming it after him 😂

@carcinopithecus gon' show my linguist roots here and point out that the vowel reduced in the unstressed second syllable, so it was [ɨ], not [ɛ].

@wlonk i just use a schwa myself

i was proposing we take the not-really-him thing all the way and just reparse the letters of the name as totally different words

@carcinopithecus But wouldn't it end up being more like how he pronounced his name, if we did that? Bringing it full circle back to "more named after him" (which, hell, I didn't realize was a spectrum until I got into this.)

@wlonk ....crap, totally misread your non-ipa rendering lmao

@carcinopithecus I should just always use IPA, linguistics destroys your ability to render "phonetic" English orthography 😂

@InvaderXan Mt. McKinley in Alaska is actually called Denali in the indigenous language. Such a better name!

@ross Yeah, that's way better! And probably more meaningful too. I wonder if there's a story behind the name.

@ross @InvaderXan yeah, I think Denali and Uluru (in Australia) are now better known than the colonial names. But apparently part of why Everest ended up called that was that it's so honkin huge that four or five different local groups had names for it and the colonial administrators didn't want to piss some of them off by making their rivals' name the official one

@ross @InvaderXan also part of the reason that McKinley was such a bad choice for a name is that he had literally nothing to do with Alaska, didn't oversee its purchase or transition to statehood or anything, didn't even visit as far as I know. It only happened because a dipshit senator from Ohio wanted to honor a fellow Ohioan. The same process that names branch post offices in small cities was used for the tallest mountain in North America.

@robotcarsley @ross From the account I read, pissing some of wasn’t a consideration. The argument was basically “we don’t know which name is most used, and Nepal and Tibet don’t like us anyway, so we’re going to just call it something totally different, k?” IDK, it came off more ad laziness than respect.

Glad people returned to the name Uluru though.

In Hungary we learned the mountain is called Mount Everest, and its highest peak is “Csomolungma”, which is a rough Hungarian version of the Tibetan name.

@gergely Oh, that’s interesting. So in a way, you learned both names!

@InvaderXan How nice! I never got to see Everest last time I visited Kathmandu (~7 years back). It is also unfathomable for the Himalayas to be visible from as far as Jalandhar in Punjab \m/

@ashwinvis It's pretty amazing how far away mountains can be seen, provided the air is clear enough!

@officialcjunior It's a sight I'd love to see. Kathmandu is on my list of places to visit sometime. I hope these lockdowns prompt people to start clearing up air pollution.


And water.
The rivers over here been flowing with clear water since decades.

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