Why are city/country names translated?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by swiftaw, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. swiftaw macrumors 603

    swiftaw

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    #1
    This has always bothered me. Why does the name of a city/country change depending on which language you speak? Surely a name is a name and should be universal across all languages.

    For example, if your name is Bob, then your name is Bob no matter in which language you are speaking.

    Why do place names get translated? Surely London should be called London in every language as that is it's name.

    Any thoughts? (And yes, I am bored)
     
  2. devilot Moderator emeritus

    devilot

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    #2
    For one, not all languages use remotely similar 'alphabets.' Asian languages versus Germanic or Latin-based languages comes to mind.
     
  3. Jaffa Cake macrumors Core

    Jaffa Cake

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    #3
    Some city names might be hard to pronounce properly in other languages, I suppose – maybe also with some of the older towns and cities the local version and the 'other language' version might share the same roots, but as the two languages have changed over the years pronunciations and spellings have changed along two different paths.

    Also, laziness. ;)
     
  4. brad.c macrumors 68020

    brad.c

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    #4
    I agree. I can say Deutschland just as easy as i can say Germany. And why do the Français say Angleterre instead of England?

    Snow day thoughts. eh?
     
  5. Grakkle macrumors 6502a

    Grakkle

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    #5
    Laziness is it - most often. But there are symbols and letters that English-speakers don't know what to do with, like ß (sharp s in German).
     
  6. TheAnswer macrumors 68030

    TheAnswer

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    #6
    Plus, add in the fact that not all groups that use the same alphabet use the same letters to make the same sounds.
     
  7. someguy macrumors 68020

    someguy

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    #7
    Not always. Some languages (Hawaiian for example) will translate your name. I don't know what Bob is, but I believe my name (Gary) is Kali or something like that. This is probably due to the fact that the Hawaiian alphabet is missing half of the letters. :)
     
  8. Jaffa Cake macrumors Core

    Jaffa Cake

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    #8
    Both are basically evolved from the same meaning – Angleland, what with it being the land of the Anglo-Saxons and all that. As English and French have evolved we've each developed our own version of the same name, that's all.

    Another reason for some naming differences might be that one country might base its interpretation of another country's name on a former name, or even a single part of the country – for example, it's common in the UK to call the whole of the Netherlands 'Holland', despite the fact that used correctly this term only applies to a specific region of the country.

    Of course, the people of said country are then usually referred to in English not as Hollanders or Netherlanders, but as Dutch – so that's a whole other can of worms opened. :p ;)
     
  9. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #9
    Germany was so named because Tacitus, a Roman historian, considered the people inhabiting present day Germany as germane, ie, well suited to their environment. Allemagne dates from the days of Charlemagne while Die Deutsche is what the natives of Germany always called themselves.

    Angleterre is what England was known as by the world until the English changed the name!

    Finland was also labeled the land of the fens by tacitus because of the swampy nature of much of present day Finland, even though the natives called their land Suomi.

    London was known as Londoninium by the romans.



    I think a better example really is how American cities are pronounced.

    Des Moines, Iowa; Montpelier, Vermont; Butte, Montana; Pierre, South Dakota; Los Angeles etc, etc. None of them are pronounced the way they should be. We've adapted the names to suit our pronunciation and heaven forbid if you tell a resident of Montpelier that they are pronouncing the name of their city incorrectly.
     
  10. adroit macrumors 6502

    adroit

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    #10
    Trust me, you don't want to have to say the proper name for Bangkok. It's something like a page long. :eek:

    "The name "Bangkok" derives from the name of a village that occupied the site before the new capital was founded. The proper name of the city is one of the longest place names in the world, but is generally shorted to Krungthep."

    I found it, not quite a page long but you get the point:

    "Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit"

    http://www.into-asia.com/bangkok/introduction/fullname.php
     
  11. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #11
    The Germans were so called because they were thought to be closely related to the Gauls (germanus = closely related, brother)

    Angle-land was named for the Angles, who migrated, along with the Jutes, Danes, Saxons and Vikings, during the latter half of the first millenium, at the same time as the Britons (who remained in Wales and Cornwall) were migrating to northern Gaul to establish Brittany. Only the Normans called it Angleterre, because they didn't know any better.

    Actually Londinium, possibly after Lugdunum, Lug's fort.
     
  12. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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  13. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #13
    But Bob is short for Robert which is from a Germanic root meaning strong or loyal which is cognate with the Latin robor (strength) and has therefore been translated several times already before it became Bob.

    Similarly, James = Seamus = Jacques = Jacobus = Iago, and they all come from Hebrew antecedents. Where do you start?
     
  14. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #14
    Wikipedia has a rather interesting page on the different names for Germany.

    Ah, my cousin Lug, can't say he chose the best spot for a fort, but he never did like the rain so he probably chose hastily.

    Cologne is understandable given its proximity to France but Munich is a little tougher. I guess it could have ended up being Munchen or something worse.

    "Hey, you Muncher!"
     
  15. whooleytoo macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

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    #15
    Most annoying question in the world:

    Person1: "I'm going to Krung Thep Mah.... ...am Prasit"
    Person2: "Pardon?"

    :p
     
  16. whooleytoo macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

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    #16
    It's more often than not due to difficulties in pronouncing placenames from another language. Though, here in Ireland most surnames are anglicized too. For instance, my surname (Whooley) is O'hUallaigh, as the latter would be a bit of a mouthful for many English speakers.

    You tend to get some oddities too. For instance the Irish name for Dublin city is Baile Atha Cliath; but the word Dublin is actually an anglicization of Dubh Linn (black pool), while Baile Atha Cliath means "ash ford town".

    Incidentally, if it weren't for surnames being anglicized too, the machines we use wouldn't be called "Macs". ;)
     
  17. TheAnswer macrumors 68030

    TheAnswer

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    #17
    I don't mind that people don't call it El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula...but it really needs to be Los Ángeles with the accent or it throws the whole thing off for me.

    I'm just glad that I'm not a travel agent...imagine booking a trip from Krungthep Mahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathani Burirom-udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amonphiman Awatansathit Sakkathattiya Witsanu Kamprasit to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. :eek:
     
  18. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #18
    The French probably say that because it's not far from the original Latin name.

    I'm always impressed with how they got Hungary from Magyar or Japan from Nippon but then, the U.S.A. is "beautiful country" in Chinese and "rice country" in Japanese.
     
  19. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #19
  20. Queso macrumors G4

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    #20
    München is Italian is called Monaco. Unfortunately Monaco in Italian is also Monaco, which means you have to be quite careful when buying train tickets :)
     
  21. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #21
    I've always wondered about Deutschland and Japan.

    Is it more difficult to say Deutschland rather than Germany, or to say "Nippon (or Nihon)" rather than Japan? You'd think that if they were going to make these names sound more English/romanised or whatever, they'd just call Deutschland "Doishland", and Nippon can be "Nippon/Nipon" or something. At least they sound like their true names. It's like saying "The Netherlands", since the country is called "Nederland", so at least they're similar.


    PS: I read the posts about Germany above, but surely once they realized, "Oh, we may as well call it Deutschland as well, since we can pronounce most of those sounds anyway", they should have just said Deutschland".
     
  22. -::ubermann::- macrumors regular

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    #22
    it bothers me, the names should stay
    also chinese people who choose a western name, thats just pathetic
     
  23. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #23
    I have a polish friend who uses the English equivalent of her name at work. The polish version is easy to pronounce but it evokes endless curiousity on the part of her clients and co workers. It's infinitely easier for her to change her name rather than be bombarded by oftentimes ridiculous questions.

    Don't get her started on American ignorance when it comes to world geography! Some people have put Poland in south america and one even in Africa. One even thought it was tropical...
     
  24. -::ubermann::- macrumors regular

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    #24
    well at least asking stupid questions they get rid of ignorance :)
     
  25. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

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    #25
    I think that it is usually either from the country using a different alphabet like most asian countries, or just from people being too lazy to learn how to pronounce it correctly.
     

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