See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Get it Right: “It's Colombia, NOT Columbia”

In an attempt to set the record straight and fix a common spelling error among English-language speakers, four young Colombian professionals from the digital innovation firm Zemoga launched the social media campaign “It's Colombia, NOT Columbia.”

As Richard Emblin explains in a post for The City Paper:

We are geographically far from British Columbia and a shuttle age that endured many missions after the ‘Columbia’ disintegrated over Texas in 2003. Yet many still get it wrong. There are no Rocky Mountains in Colombia. We are in the Andes.

But the campaign's mission goes beyond getting people to spell the name of the country correctly. Paul Giles explains in the Colombia Travel blog:

The “It’s Colombia, not Columbia” campaign is steadily building up steam in its crusade to demonstrate how the misspelling of a country just highlights how skewed the popular conception of this amazing country is.

Emilio Pombo, one of the campaign's founders, told Edgar Zúñiga from NBC Latino:

“We saw this common error and realized it was a platform to start updating the world’s vision of what is happening in our country [...] We currently have great things happening. Colombia is becoming a destination and getting on the world stage. We want to spotlight that and it all starts with people spelling our country’s name right.”

A social media campaign is trying to fix a common spelling error: "It's Colombia, not Columbia"

A social media campaign wants you to say it right: “It's Colombia, not Columbia”. Image widely shared on Twitter and Facebook.

Supporters are encouraged to participate in the campaign by creating an image or a video to spread the message. Participants can then share their contribution on Twitter or Instagram under the hashtag #itsColombiaNOTColumbia, or upload their work to the campaign's fan page on Facebook.

Positive messages about Colombia and pictures with the message “It's Colombia, not Columbia” have been flooding the hashtag and Facebook page.

Image shared by the "It's Colombia, NOT Columbia" Facebook page.

Image shared by the “It's Colombia, NOT Columbia” Facebook page.

Image shared by the "It's Colombia, NOT Columbia" Facebook page.

Image shared by the “It's Colombia, NOT Columbia” Facebook page.

Widely shared Facebook image by Carlos G Jara

Widely shared Facebook image by Carlos G Jara

Industrial designer Juan Leon Machicado (@LordLeonMachi) shared the following image on Twitter:

It's Colombia, not Columbia, image shared on Twitter by @LordLeonMachi

It's Colombia, not Columbia, image shared on Twitter by @LordLeonMachi

@LordLeonMachi: We have a message. We all have something to say. #itsColombiaNotColumbia @OdeColombia #Colombia #Guajira #message pic.twitter.com/U1qCytAq

And @YatsarEl, from the city of Bucaramanga, invites netizens to visit her country:

@YatsarEl: A place where old dreams are coming true, where people work hard and smile lots. Lots has changed, dare you to come! #itsColombianotColumbia

But the campaign has not been free from criticism or jokes [es].

Nicolás Martínez (@diarionocturno) [es] and others [es] have been playing with the campaign's slogan:

@diarionocturno: It's pobre, not en vías de desarrollo #ItsColombiaNotColumbia

@diarionocturno: It's poor, not developing #ItsColombiaNotColumbia

In a more serious tone, Journalist Carolina Ruiz (@CaroRuizG) [es] argues:

@CaroRuizG: De qué sirve que digan Colombia y no Columbia si todo lo demás seguiría igual. Hay que cambiar el fondo más que la forma.

@CaroRuizG: What's the point of people saying Colombia and not Columbia if everything else stays the same. We have to change the substance more than the form.

While El gato (@elgatoninja) [es] tweets with irony:

@elgatoninja: Lo importante no es que paren los secuestros, matanzas o muertos de hambre. Que nos digan Colombia en vez de Columbia, eso es lo importante.

@elgatoninja: What's important is not that the kidnappings, killings, or deaths caused by famine stop. That they call us Colombia instead of Columbia, that's important.

And Paula Ricciulli (@RicciuP) [es] writes:

@RicciuP: Si le dice a todos los asiáticos “chinos” no tiene derecho a quejarse porque le digan “Columbia” a Colombia.

@RicciuP: If you call all Asians “Chinese” you don't have the right to complain that they call Colombia “Columbia”.

The “It's Colombia, NOT Columbia” Facebook page, launched on February 7, 2013, had over 10,000 users at the time this post was published. You can also find the campaign on Twitter at @OdeColombia.

Julián Ortega Martínez and Catalina Restrepo collaborated in this post.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site