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From ‘Alley West’ to ‘the Lane’ in the Reap

From ‘Alley West’ to ‘the Lane’ in the Reap

As a reasonably long-term resident of Siem Reap, I must admit to a level of confusion regarding the origins of the names of various streets around the Psar Chas.

Of late, I find that when I peruse your Friday supplement on Siem Reap, I am met with locations such as “Alley West”, “the Lane” and such. As none of my acquaintances use any of these names in conversation, you may imagine my confusion, especially as no fold-out map or the like is provided.

The existence, for example, of an Alley West would suggest that an “Alley East”, or indeed a simple “Alley” was a reality. The town itself is increasingly being referred to as “the Reap”. Why not broaden your outlook?  Such focus on certain syllables matched with the definite article could be put to hilarious use when renaming cities such as Bangkok, Fukuoka or Bogotá.

In short, I have wondered as to who coins such terms, and how the Post has latched onto them. Pub Street seems to have been a fairly organic construct, as it is essentially a street full of pubs. However, the provenance of these newer, and I dare say trendier, titles seems to be a case of artificiality on the part of local business owners, or, as I suspect, the Post itself. If the latter is the case, it speaks volumes for the influence of your newspaper and its ability to direct the course of popular language.

In any event, I feel that I have no choice but to rebel, at risk perhaps of becoming a geographical outcast, by not giving in to the Post’s tyranny of nomenclature. I concede that you may be using these new names for the sake of convenience, but to me they’ll always be “the one with the DVD shop on it”, and “the one near the hospital”.

Benjamin Gooding,
Siem Reap

Send letters to: [email protected] or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length. The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

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