Cities with the same name, and other city-related matters

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by merquiades, Sep 25, 2012.

  1. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Yes, American geography is also a problem for the French. Ohio, Iowa, Idaho... the same. They're often confused even on tv. Or you get Ohiowa, Ohidaho, Idowa. Skiing in the mountains of Washington DC.
     
  2. JeanDeSponde

    JeanDeSponde Senior Member

    France, Lyon area
    France, Français
    Geography seems to be a difficult matter in the US too, as Americans think that Belgium is part of France (hence French fries;))
     
  3. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    No, but isn't it France that's part of Belgium?:confused:
     
  4. WME Senior Member

    French-France
    Americans have to reckon that calling sometimes a dozen cities the same name across the States does not make it easy :D ;)
    Wonder why Matt Groening chose to have the Simpsons live in Springfield ?
     
  5. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    Agreed. However, Americans ought to be aware that saying "London, England" or "Paris, France" when speaking to Europeans can come over as highly condescending.
     
  6. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    And why might that be? :confused:
     
  7. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    There are place names repeating all over France too. Montigny, Mont, Saint names etc.

    In America there can't be more than one place with the same name in one given state. People named their towns the way they wanted. It's hard to come up with an original name for five billion towns. So they named them after places in Europe, sometimes where the settlers originated from, or famous people. I don't know what the origin of Springfield is but it gives allusion to some kind of small town in middle America with whatever kind of culture and take on life that entails.
     
  8. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Because it is perceived to imply you are so stupid you don't know where where London and Paris are.

    Additions, which are normally geographical descriptions and not country names, are only used with frequently confused typonyms and then they are spelled out, like Newcastle-upon-Tyne or Frankfurt am Main.

    Although I know perfectly well where it comes from I still can't help it feeling offended when, e.g., I see in an American film the skyline of Paris with the Eifel-Tower and a subtitle Paris, France.
     
  9. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    I can't say I have ever felt even the slightest bit offended when an American specified Paris, France or London, England; as anyone familiar with North American geography should know, there are any number of Paris' and Londons in America thus the addition makes perfect sense; but to each his own.

    Now, when continental Europeans are under the impression that Ireland is part of England, or Latvia is somewhere in Russia, I'm a little less forgiving.
     
  10. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    You are probably a few decades of American cultural influence ahead of us.
    Who would do such a thing?:confused:
     
  11. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    There are many places called Paris, Moscow, Warsaw in the United States -- this might be the reason. The Eifel Tower- that might be different, although who knows -- many things are created in Hollywood and Disneyland, so someone may still have doubts where the film is taking place. ;)
     
  12. JeanDeSponde

    JeanDeSponde Senior Member

    France, Lyon area
    France, Français
    Technically speaking, town & village names are all different — Montigny-le-Bretonneux, Montigny-en-Morvan, Montigny-lès-Cormeilles etc.

    Now, saying London, England in Europe to a European is less informative than, although as accurate as, traduit de l'américain;)...
     
  13. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    It comes from there being confusion if eg. the Charleston you are talking about is in Massachusetts, South Carolina or Virginia.... So at some point people started routinely giving cities a first and a last name. That became compulsory when sending mail. So for many people, Paris is naked without the France attached to it with a comma. Even if there is an Eiffel Tower in the shot. They'll even do it with cities that don't have an equivalent in America, like Bratislava, Slovakia (I don't think that one exists). It's not about offending or not knowing either. It's habit.
     
  14. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    As I said, I perfectly well know where it comes from. Yet the emotional reaction exists.
     
  15. NewtonCircus Senior Member

    Singapore
    Dutch (Belgium)
    Lots of people. Many believe that whatever you yourself know about a place or your own country for that matter, others should know as well. That is simply not the case.
     
  16. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    I find that a lot of people in France don't know much at all about Eastern European geography, culture, society, history. The farther east you go the less they know. Not so for Ireland. I think no one would say it's part of Britain. Western and Southern Europe is well known.
     
  17. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    Oh, you'd be surprised M. Fully agree about Eastern Europe.
     
  18. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    In my experience, those people who don't know that Lithuania isn't a part of Russia don't know that Lithuania exist and what it might be in the first place and the problem doesn't arise.
     
  19. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Gentlemen,
    That some ignorant people in France (or any other country for that matter) know little of Eastern European geography, I accept. (However I suspect perhaps neither of you are aware of how much business is done by French Entrepreneurs in Eastern Europe. :p ) It's wrong to generalise! Berndf is right in saying it's a non-problem, since such people are ignorant of many, many things. :(
     
  20. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Not always, Berndf. I know people who otherwise are very learned and might even be teachers, lawyers, doctors who vaguely have heard of places like Lithuania but don't care enough to know anymore. How many times have I heard Lithuanie-Lettonie whatever! Slovaquie, Slovénie which is which? Rom- Romanian is the same no, close? One of those places. Can't they make their names different enough? Eastern Europe except probably Poland and Russian is dismissed as irrelevant.
    No, fortunately I'm not talking about all people, and I'm sure lots of trade is done with the East, it is widespread though.
    By the way, try to get them to name the capitals. That's a fun experience.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  21. Ёж! Senior Member

    Русский
    I'd be lost. :) I mean, I'd name the capitals of Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Bulgaria, Czechia and Greece correctly from the top of my mind, but the rest is hard.
     
  22. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    What? Reallly?:eek: But that's your back yard and sphere of influence.:D :)
     
  23. Ёж! Senior Member

    Русский
    With all my (irrational?) hope that the 'spheres of influence' will sometime become an attribute of the sorrow past, I can't but tell that even in the times of USSR geographical incompetence of Soviet people was a subject for jokes. The name of the song by Vysotsky can be imprecisely translated as 'How to travel abroad', and the 'instructor' constantly confuses the location of the Budapest city: first, it is in Poland, then in Hungary, then in Bulgaria. The person who travels first calls the country (correctly) Bulgaria, then he uses the name of Bangladesh. Considering the difficulties of the travel, he even thinks of refusing the trip: 'But then, I won't go in Ulan Bator to the Poles!', but his wife convinces him not to.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  24. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I've noticed the construction "Paris, France"/"London, England", too, and it does sound peculiar to my ears, but not offensive. It's perfectly understandable from the American perspective. There are indeed American cities with identical names, though I wonder if this is the full explanation. After all, those American cities are all fairly obscure. I think there may be another factor at play here: Americans are used to attaching state names to the names of American cities (and to the names of politicians), as in Cleveland, Ohio, or Austin, Texas. Perhaps they've simply extended this local habit to European cities, with the country, quite naturally, taking the place of the state.

    As a curiosity, and a disclaimer, there is at least one expression of this kind in Portuguese, Viena de Áustria (Vienna of Austria), I suppose to distinguish it from the Portuguese city of Viana do Castelo, even though Viana and Viena aren't even homophones. I admit that I do find it a bit grating sometimes.
     
  25. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    Out, I must say that "Lisbon, Portugal" is slightly more irritating than "Paris, France" to my ears. But there are many Lisbons in the US. Even more than Paris, apparently.
    That must be because of Wim Wender's "Paris, Texas" :p.

    You can quiz me on European (East and West) and Latin American capitals any time, but please don't ask about US state capitals! :D
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2013
  26. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Good point. That probably explains why Americans add the state to the names of less well-known cities. :thumbsup::cool:

    P.S. Decades ago I knew the names of all European capitals and their spelling in the local official languages, but I confess that I lost track after the fall of the Berlin Wall and everything that followed. :eek:
     
  27. funnyhat Senior Member

    Michigan, U.S.A.
    American English
    Even major U.S. cities can get the "city, state" treatment. TV shows will sometimes say "Los Angeles, California," "Seattle, Washington" and so on, even when no one would be confused. It's just a pretty standard practice and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with whether or not the audience is familiar with the place.
     
  28. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    I think in the US a city is just seen as naked without a last name attached. There is no reason for New York, New York or Mexico City, Mexico or Singapore, Singapore etc. but they are usually present.
     
  29. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    Then learners of US English should say "When in Rome, Italy, do as the Romans do", shouldn't they? :D Just joking.
     
  30. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Lol :D So in Rome, Georgia you can do whatever you please!

    In France a lot of towns, neighborhoods have been given the same name, so there is this habit of putting lès like Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, Villeneuve-lès-Rouen, Montigny-lès-Vesoul, Montigny-lès-Cormeilles, Montigny-lès-Arsures. How about Paris-lès-Texas? :D
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2013
  31. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    It is a fact that in the US cities often get the binomial treatment when first referred to. It is accordingly not surprising if this is extended to places outside the US where the state in the US is replaced by the country. I was not suggesting that that is actually condescending, but that those unaware of the practice within the US may perceive it to be condescending or in any event find it irritating. So, if you are a US citizen in the US and say you are flying to Paris, France that is fine; however, it is probably better not to say that if you are in England.
     
  32. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    ROFL :D Sounds posh and somewhat un-Texan. But lès means close to, so it should be Paris-lès-Houston or something like that (I didn't check the map) :D.

    Still, I think there may be a couple of exceptions to the city + state rule. Do Americans really say Beijing, China? Or Peking, China? (Is there any US city with a Chinese name using pinyin?)
     
  33. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Nanon, tu sais quelle est etymologie de ce lès?
     
  34. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Yes, no city escapes without a last name.

    :D Ok, in this case Paris-lès-Dallas, Texas. :eek:
     
  35. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Hulalassar, I don't think people would add the last name if they were in London and flying to Paris, unless these people just happen to be from Texas. Otherwise it has turned into habit and that is probably why you see the Paris, Texas on the screen under the image of the Eiffel Tower. I suppose in some cases, unfortunately, if you have an image of Astana or Bangui, you really need to put the "last name" because some people might never have heard of the city, or get confused. That could happen even with US places. You see an image of Portland... I have no idea if it is Maine or Oregon.
     
  36. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    Je peux même te donner un lien vers un fil du FS (il y en a plusieurs).
     
  37. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Merci, Nannerl.:)
     
  38. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    Merci pour l'allusion :)... you made my day!
     
  39. funnyhat Senior Member

    Michigan, U.S.A.
    American English
    And the "city name, state/country name" convention is mainly just for writing. In speaking, people do not typically do this - at least, not for big cities. If you tell someone you're going to Paris or London, you would not add the country (assuming you're talking about the Paris and London, not their little namesakes in North America). Even for New York, where there can be ambiguity between the city and state, people will generally say "I'm going to New York" with the implication that they're going to the city.
     
  40. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Link in post #234 followed...
     
  41. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    As to Latvia and other countries once belonging to the Soviet Union, it was not uncommon even here (in Czechoslovakia) to think they are part of Russia or not to know almost anything about them, as they where associated with the Soviet Union and the URSS was associated with Russia. So people from these countries were often called Russian by the foreigners as they spoke Russian and came from somewhere in the Soviet Union, i.e. from "Russia" ...

    And also Yugoslavia: here it was quite uncommon to speak about Serbia, Croatia etc. Yugoslavia was seen as a "compact" country, thus many people did not know any details (including the capitals) about the particular federal states.

    When speaking e.g. about Germany or Hungary, it's quite easy to "undrestand" what country and nation is meant, but to "decipher" exactly which countries and peoples belong to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" may be a bit more difficult for some people :) ...
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
  42. ESustad Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    English - (Minnesota)
    Do you think that might be because you're seeking offense from Americans, even if it isn't intended? I've found that certain Europeans assume a high degree of ignorance or loutishness from Americans. If it doesn't exist, they will construct it, and take offense accordingly. As an American who speaks fluent French with an ambiguously-foreign accent, I've often been highly bemused by the things people will say in French to me while ignorant of my nationality.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
  43. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    To me, "Paris, France" and "London, England" (and "Los Angeles, California" and "Indianapolis, Indiana" ;)) don't imply "You (the listener) aren't smart enough or sophisticated enough to be familiar with Paris, London, Los Angeles, and Indianapolis." What they imply are that "I (the speaker) am not all that familiar with these cities, or for some reason I need to be specific for my own comfort or understanding." They say nothing about the listener and everything about the speaker. I understand that it's difficult to control an emotional response, Berndf, but I think it would be useful for you to think of it this way. There are exceptions, of course, but in almost every case, the speaker says "Paris, France" not for the listener but for himself.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
  44. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    I agree that some people in Europe like American-bashing. They will create and exaggerate reasons to take offense just so they can justify their bashing. I've seen it often. Also some people can claim justified condescension. Those in this group might snigger and suggest that American cuisine is nothing but McDonald's, education is weak in this or that other subject, some customs are barbarian and corrupt, that it's okay to discount or confuse one state or another (Idaho, Ohio the same) yet... if you dared to say anything close to that about XXXX place in Europe they would tar and feather you on the spot. :D
    At any rate, people can be awful, but I'm totally sure Berndf doesn't fall into this category.
     
  45. ESustad Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    English - (Minnesota)
    While having beers on a terrace in Malaysia years ago, I fell into conversation with a French couple. They had just been to Vietnam, and fell all over themselves to tell me about the horrible American couple they had met at their hotel in Hanoi. They checked every box in the stereotype of the Ugly American abroad in their description - loud, monoglot, drunk, completely ignorant. When I asked this French couple which part of the US their subject was from, they responded "Winnipeg."

    I almost snorted beer from my nose.
     
  46. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Ha, Winnipeg! :) Had you called them out on it, they might well have said "Same difference."
    Yes, sounds familiar! I have lots of stories like that. Once I was planning to celebrate Halloween with a friend and we were leaving the store with a bunch of stuff. Her brother came by and complained: No. This is unbearable! We're not going to become Americanized are we! He then went on to check off those same boxes they always do (uncanny isn't it?)... all the things we will become for getting lollipops and masks.
    Once a German guy was going on about how it was intolerable that people were learning American English... that was going to bring about Armageddon... check off same boxes... and he looked at me for support because he thought I was English....
    I've often thought of writing a book about bashing.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
  47. ESustad Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    English - (Minnesota)
    Yeah, any American who has spent significant time abroad has these stories.

    My second favorite was riding in the back of a camion from Managua to Masaya, in Nicaragua. I was slouched down, wearing a sombrero and sunglasses, half-asleep and listening to things. There was a loudmouth Canadian woman in back with us, who seemed to be an NGO worker. She went off on a monologue in Spanish to everyone in the truck bed about how the Americans had destroyed Nicaragua, and prescribing hatred for Americans to the Nicas. When she got out, the guy sitting next to me (with whom I'd quietly chatted before the Canadian clambered aboard) asked me in earnest if Canada and the United States were enemies.

    Anyway, I hope they don't shut down this discussion on the vestigial cultural branch. I don't get access to the new one for several months, and this is my favorite branch of WR.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
  48. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    I've heard a few Canadians spew venom at Americans too.
    Honestly, that doesn't bother me so much. I understand the spite. When was the last time you heard Americans talk about Canada in a conversation or even mention anything about it in passing? I'm guilty of that too. If I ever consider Canada at all it's Quebec, the only province I have visited, and out of personal affinity. But Alberta, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan are pretty unknown to me. On the American TV weather map when a storm goes into Canada it fades to white as if it just disappears. Maybe you all in Minnesota talk about Canada more often.

    Yes, the new one is more extensive. Given you signed up in September, it'll open up for you on 1 March
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
  49. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    I have thought a bit more about it whar really creates this emotional reaction with me. I think if people said Paris, Ile de France, Rome, Lazio or Munich, Bavaria instead of Paris, France, Rome, Italy or Munich, Germany, it still would sound unfamiliar to me (we usually suffix geographical landmarks rather than state names to avoid ambiguities) but it wouldn't create this irritation. It may be the real issue is that entire nations are equated to one of your states.
     
  50. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    In French, if I really need to distinguish between, let's say, the French city of Vienne and the capital of Austria, I would use a preposition in speech: Vienne, en Autriche vs Vienne, dans l'Isère, i.e. if the country cannot be made out from context. Suffixation sounds like, erm... filling out forms to me. In writing, we would instinctively separate the city and the country (state, region, department) with parentheses instead of a comma in many cases: Vienne (Autriche) vs Vienne (Isère) or Vienne (38).

    Yet, in Spanish, I would say and write Mérida, Venezuela pretty naturally, to make it clear that I am not referring to Mérida de Yucatán (Mexico) or Mérida de Extremadura (Spain). But once said, I would not feel the need to repeat it - which means that the receiver is more in need of this information than the emitter. Well, bad example. When referring to places in Venezuela, I could also add information about the state when mentioning a toponym for the first time, except that the first place that came to my mind, Mérida, Estado Mérida, sounds pretty redundant :p.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2013

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