This chapter discusses the ramifications of political renaming in two persistent trouble spots: Cyprus and Israel. Most of Cyprus's residents speak Greek, write with Greek letters, and observe Greek orthodox traditions, whereas a prominent minority speaks Turkish, uses a 29-letter Roman alphabet with diacritical marks, and worships in mosques. In both Cyprus and Israel, toponymy acquires a special significance when ethnic groups with different languages covet the same territory. Plastered across a country's maps, place names assert ownership, legitimize conquest, and flaunt control. To the victor goes the toponymy along with other spoils of war. But as Palestinian websites demonstrate, the losing side can make its own maps, designed to refresh memory, sustain dreams, and reinforce resentment. Essential for identifying places, geographic names possess a symbolic power that can inflame and claim.
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