It’s not U, it’s O

Prepare yourself for a little bit of exasperated snarkiness (with all good intentions, I assure you!)

Since I’m going to be here for two years in this vibrant, colorful country, I figure I should nip it in the bud…

It’s Colombia, not Columbia.

Both are named for the same guy, that Christopher bloke who sailed the oceans blue and such. However, as any international maritimer, Mr. C.C. had to translate his name into everyone’s language (kind of how I’m now referred to as Hanna, Ana, Sofia, Sebastiana, Sasha and Guineo.) In Italian, his name was Colombo; in Portuguese, Colom; in Spanish, Colon. A random Venezuelan decided that “Colombia” was a great name for the “New World,” and the South American version stuck.

Up north, however, the Americans decided to go with the Latin root of his name, Columb-, and tack on an –ia. Therefore, North Americans took the Columbia version and ran with it–tacking it on to everything from the District to random towns to that lady in the movies. Oh, and most importantly: to my (hopefully) future graduate school, Columbia University. (Yes, my dream is to go from Colombia to Columbia.)

So why does it matter? For a couple of reasons. 

1. Because the difference between Colombia and Columbia is approximately 2,500 miles (that’s to the university.)

2. Because Colombians don’t want to be Columbians. Columbians are either poor grad students or toga-wearing logo women. Colombians, on the other hand, are coffee-drinking, salsa-dancing, party-hopping happy people!

3. Most importantly, because making this minor grammatical mistake ends up making you look like you can’t spell and/or you don’t know geography. Which is fine, but I happen to know you’re much cooler than that.

So this is my appeal to you, my amigos: remember the Colombians! 😀


4 thoughts on “It’s not U, it’s O”

  1. Haha, this post struck a cord with me. As a British Columbian, I’ve had to correct plenty of people (interestingly, most of them Americans) on the spelling of my Columbia. Not sure why so many people get it wrong or switch the Os and the Us so often as all the Columbias/Colombias are quite a distance apart, but it annoys me, too. I hope your blog-post-lesson will educate a few people. 🙂 (Oh, and another thing I hate is when people think I’m saying DC when I’m really saying BC…)

    1. Alison, thanks for reading! I’ll include BC in my informational rant next time 😉 that’s funny that Americans are often the ones who add the O to yours!

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