Ben: দমদম damadama
‘Bang Bang’, ‘Battery’ City, West Bengal
From Ben: dum, ‘banging, booming or thudding noise’; Per: damdama, ‘disturbance’, ‘clamour’, ’drum’, ‘mound’, ’raised battery’.
There are two fascinating possibilities for this place name with its charming reduplication. The first is onomatopoeic, suggesting cannon-fire, drums, fire-crackers or similar disturbances. The second is about raised mounds for mounting cannon. The tantalising aspect is that linguistic support can be found for these in both Persian and Bengali.
During the 19thC this town housed the Dum Dum Arsenal, a facility. Here, in the 1890s, Captain Neville Bertie-Clay of the British Royal Artillery developed the dum-dum or expanding bullet which maximized the severity of bullet wounds – at least until it was made illegal at the 1899 Hague Conference.
Dum-dum fever is a synonym for visceral leishmaniasis: Willliam Leishman worked at the Dum-Dum Camp.