All Slavic languages: Thessalonica, Vienna, Beijing and other geographical names

Maja

Senior Member
Serbian, Serbia
It is really strange that in Serbian, we call Thessalonica "Solun/Солун", Vienna "Beč/Беч" and Beijing "Peking/Пекинг" when it is clear that the original names of those cities are different, as well as the English version. I was wondering if this is the case with other Slavic languages, and if so, does anyone know why?

Thank you all for your kind replays!
 
  • Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    Czech:
    Thessalonica - Soluň

    The popular Greek name Σαλονίκη Saloniki gives it its alternate English name - formerly the common name Salonika (also spelled Salonica), the Turkish Selânik and the Slavic Солун Solun. Source
    http://encyclopedia.topliterature.com/?title=Solun

    Wien - Vídeň

    Our Vídeň seems quite close to the original, but I have absolutely no explanation for your Beč and Hungarian Becs. :) Here's what I have found.

    Beijing - Peking

    This is easier than the other two because Peking used to be a standard transcription.
    Peking is the name of the city romanized in Postal System Pinyin, and the traditional customary name for Beijing in English. Wiki
    As far as I know, it is commonplace to call towns totally differently. In Czech, it almost never happens with cities outside Europe, and the tendency is the strongest for the neighboring countries. Quite frequently, Czech names are just literal translations of German or Polish names. And vice versa.

    We often adjust other Slavic names to fit better in the Czech mouth. :) As some of you know, we do not have "g" (except in loanwords), which is why Bělehrad and Záhřeb sound so much better than Beograd and Zagreb. :)

    Jana
     

    venenum

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Croatia
    The Croatian names are the same as the Serbian: Solun, Beč, Peking

    I have absolutely no explanation for your Beč and Hungarian Becs.

    Jana
    Beč probably comes from Hungarian name for Viena (Wien) - which isn't so hard to grasp, since the two countries spent almost a millenium in a union with each other.


    Interestingly, we call you capital, Prague, Prag. I presume you have a different name for it, since you don't have "g" sound.
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    Beč probably comes from Hungarian name for Vienna (Wien) - which isn't so hard to grasp, since the two countries spent almost a millenium in a union with each other.
    Yes, I know, but I don't know where the Hungarian one comes from. :)
    Interestingly, we call you capital, Prague, Prag. I presume you have a different name for it, since you don't have "g" sound.
    Praha. :)
    práh - threshold

    Jana
     

    skye

    Senior Member
    Slovenian
    In Slovenian it's Dunaj for Vienna and Peking for Beijing.

    Praha is Praga. ;)

    We don't really use Solun, I only saw this name in a historical novel I once read.

    I'm trying to think of some other slightly changed names:

    Lisboa - Lizbona
    Paris - Pariz
    Budapest(?) - Budimpešta
    Bucuresti(?) - Bukarešta
    Roma - Rim

    Not any major changes really.
     

    beclija

    Senior Member
    Boarisch, Österreich (Austria)
    I think Vienna beats it all: even ignoring variants like Vídeň, Viedeň, Wieden, Wien, Vienna, we still got Beč and Dunaj as obviously unrelated names.

    On topic: Rome is Rzym in Polish, and I think they spell Berlin with a y; and of course, they replace l with ł and v with w in Slavic names (Bratisława).

    A totally different matter is country names, here it gets real wild: Greece is Ellas/Ellada, Junan(-istan) in Arabic and Turkish respectively, and Grk-, Grek- something in most of Europe. Austria is Rakousko in Czech, Itävalta in Finnish, and Nimsa in Arabic (presumably resulting from a misapplication of Nem'c). Germany beats it, though: Saksaa in Finnish and Estonian, Deutschland/Tyskland and the like in most Germanic languages, Vacija or something like that in Baltic, Alemagne and similar versions in French, Spanish, etc, and Niemcy, Nemečko, Njemačka etc. in Slavic.
     

    Monica610

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Another funny thing is that "Italy" is "Włochy" in Polish and I have no idea why :) The same is with Germany - this is "Niemcy" (but this name is obviously clear for the Poles - it comes from the history).
    beclija: we spell "Berlin" in the ordinary way, like in English (only the "r" is harder).
    Vienna is "Wiedeń", Beijing - "Pekin", Paris - "Paryż" and Thessalonica - "Saloniki".
     

    Maja

    Senior Member
    Serbian, Serbia
    Here's why. :)
    Jana
    Thank you Jana for your detailed answers and explanations!:thumbsup:
    I was thinking there must be some logical explanation...
    But Beč/Беч is by far the weirdest!!!

    We say "Prag/Праг" in Serbian.
    Other different name is "Mađarska/Мађарска" for Hungary, but it has to do with their original name in Hungarian (Magyar).
    And we sometimes call Albanians "Šiptari/Шиптари", which is considered politically incorrect by some, but I don't see way as it is the name they use in Albanian (Shqipërisë), only modified to suit our pronunciation.
    Germany is "Nemačka/Немачка".
     

    übermönch

    Senior Member
    World - 1.German, 2.Russian, 3.English
    Russian names seem to be standartized. Austria's Avstria, Germany's Germania (though Germans are still Niemcy), Vienna's Vena, Thessalonica's Fessaloniki, Hungary's Vengria, Paris's Parizh; Though most places/towns also have archaic names similar to modern Ukrainian and Byelorusian terms (?), like Volokhi for Romanians, Lyakhi for Poles, Friazi for Italians, Kamenetzk for Chemnitz, or Tsargrad for Istandbul. But now in the modern forms it's boring with nothing special on it. :( :D
    German also had odd names for all towns all around like Nanzig for Nantes, but that's another story.
     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    There's an old story and I do not know if there is any truth in it, but I find it very interesting.

    German people were given the name Nemci by Slavs because they did not understand them, so they called them NEMI (in Serbian, I do not know in other languages), i.e. mute, those who don't know how to speak.

    As far as Beč is concerned, there is a similar explanation. At least in Serbian, it comes from the verb "bečiti se", which would mean something like pretend, show off, or something like that. Explanation: Serbs found people from Vienna ununderstandable and they looked them as if they were showing off, or something.
    PS: If any Serb/Croatian/Bosnian here knows better word for bečiti se, please correct me.:) I cannot think of anything better.
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    German people were given the name Nemci by Slavs because they did not understand them, so they called them NEMI (in Serbian, I do not know in other languages), i.e. mute, those who don't know how to speak.
    This is a standard explanation as far as I know. I don't think it is being seriously challenged.

    Jana
     

    venenum

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Croatia
    As far as Beč is concerned, there is a similar explanation. At least in Serbian, it comes from the verb "bečiti se", which would mean something like pretend, show off, or something like that. Explanation: Serbs found people from Vienna ununderstandable and they looked them as if they were showing off, or something.
    PS: If any Serb/Croatian/Bosnian here knows better word for bečiti se, please correct me.:) I cannot think of anything better.
    Natasha, I would politely disagree. At least in Croatian, bečiti se means to gawk, you know, like watch someone persistently so that it looks like your eyes will fall out ;) .
    And if the same expression in Serbian has the meaning of showing off, it would probably be the other way around - this word came from the word Beč.

    poison
     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    Natasha, I would politely disagree. At least in Croatian, bečiti se means to gawk, you know, like watch someone persistently so that it looks like your eyes will fall out ;) .
    And if the same expression in Serbian has the meaning of showing off, it would probably be the other way around - this word came from the word Beč.

    poison

    Thank you Poison. When I think better, your translation is much better. And has more sense. Since German is full of gutural sounds, it must have sounded as if people were choking while speaking it to soft Slav ear....:D
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    The Czech word Vídeň (= Wien) is directly derived from Wieden (der 4. Wiener Gemeindebezirk).
    Russian Вена [v'ena] - Vienna (Engl.), Wien (Germ.)


    I wonder also wonder why Hungary in Polish is "Węgry"...
    Węgry is pronounced [vengry] "ng" is pronounced exactly like as ng in "English"
    Russian: Венгрия [v'engriya]
     

    cajzl

    Senior Member
    Czech
    The Czech cognate is Uhry (ę = u, g = h, the Polish w is prothetic).

    So we have Uhry, Uhersko and Maďarsko in Czech.
     

    Thomas F. O'Gara

    Senior Member
    English USA
    My understanding is that the name "Becz" for Vienna is from the Hungarian word for "border." Not being a Hungarian speaker, I can't verify that, though.
     

    polaco

    Member
    Poland/polish
    Yes, I know, but I don't know where the Hungarian one comes from. :)
    Praha. :)
    práh - threshold

    Jana
    I know other explanation. The eastern part of Warsaw is also Praga, and, as far as I know, it derives from verb prażyć - to burn, because it is name of the place where forest have been removed trought burning it down.

    greetings

    So we have our own Praha in Warsaw
     

    tantan

    Member
    Bulgaria
    Here is a reference from Bulgarian:
    Thessalonica - Solun/Солун - Гърция/Gartsia
    Vienna - Vienna / Виена - Австрия/Avstria
    Beijing - Pekin /Пекин - Китай/Kitai
    Berlin - Berlin /Берлин - Германия/Germania
    Lisboa - Lisabon/Лисабон - Португалия/Portogalia
    Paris - Parizh/Париж - Франция/Frantsia
    Budapest - Budapeshta /Будапеща - Унгария/Ungaria
    Bucharest - Bukuresht/Букурещ - Румъния/Romania
    Prague - Praga/Прага - Полша/Polsha

    праг/prag also means threshold in Bulgarian
    I don't see any pattern nor do I have a point. Just wanted to give you the BG thing:)
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    Russian:
    Athens - Афины (Греция)
    Thessalonica - Салоники (Греция)
    Vienna - Вена (Австрия)
    Beijing - Пекин (Китай)
    Berlin - Берлин (Германия)
    Munich - Мюнхен (Германия)
    Hamburg - Гамбург (Германия)
    Dresden - Дрезден (Германия)
    Leipzig - Лейпциг (Германия)
    Lisboa - Лиссабон (Португалия)
    Paris - Париж (Франция)
    Budapest - Будапешт (Венгрия)
    Bucharest - Бухарест (Румыния)
    Prague - Прага (Чехия)
    Warsaw - Варшава (Польша)
    Rome - Рим (Италия)
    London - Лондон (Англия)
     

    papillon

    Senior Member
    Russian (Ukraine)
    Since we're looking at lists of names in different languages, I just want to suggest, if anybody is interested, that the Glossary feature of the WR forum allows everyone to enter all this data in a nice spreadsheet format (Excel I think). We could create an all-Slavic glossary of geographical names. It works by everyone entering their contributions into a shared spreadsheet file.

    In this case you would get a big table with city names in English and every other language. In an instant you'd see the name, say for Vienna, in all the languages that have been posted.
     

    tantan

    Member
    Bulgaria
    Sorry if it's a stupid question, but where is this glossary feature?
    Where do I enter? It's a great idea:)
     

    cyanista

    законодательница мод
    NRW
    Belarusian/Russian
    It's not a feature, as a matter of fact; it's a separate forum that's called Multilingual Glossaries. Anyone can create a thread and attach an Excel sheet which will grow as other people add words/terms in languages they are proficient in. Have a look at the two stickies at the top for further information.
     

    papillon

    Senior Member
    Russian (Ukraine)
    While this is actually a separate forum, I believe nothing stops us from setting one up in in the Slavic forum. We should check with Jana:).

    But yes, check out some of the ones they are running already, they are pretty cool I believe it's a very good way to collect and display information.

    As an experiment, I just started a new thread with an all-slavic glossary here.

    I hope this works!
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    I agree that it is a good idea to run the project here because more people hang out here than in Glossaries. When we are done, I may move it there. :)

    Jana
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Anatoli, are you sure you spelled the Russian translations of "Rome" and "Paris" well? Rim and Parizh?!
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Thanks! "Parizh" is not that odd when I compare it with Italian "Parigi", but "Rim" for "Rome" is quite a surprise!
     

    Samuel Hain

    Member
    Barbarian
    Interestingly, we call you capital, Prague, Prag. I presume you have a different name for it, since you don't have "g" sound.
    I do not think you are right. I thing there is possibility to pronounce "G" in Czech.

    But on the other side in other languages (f.e.Franch, Spanish, Russian) you can not pronounce "H"
    (-:
    Therefore French people when they speak English cannot say that are not "Hungry" but just "Angry"
    And russian are not homosexuals but голубые
     

    papillon

    Senior Member
    Russian (Ukraine)
    And russian are not homosexuals but голубые
    This is off topic, but голубые is not an official term and it is used not because of difficulties in prononciation, just like the word gay in English didn't result from the difficulties in saying homosexual.
    Russian actually has both sounds, but the letter "H" usually becomes г, so that Praha becomes Прага (Praga) and homosexual becomes гомосексуалист.
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    I do not think you are right. I think there is possibility to pronounce "G" in Czech.
    Yes, it is. We do have the sound but almost exclusively in loanwords. On the other hand, they are so copious and common (graf, guma etc.) that it does not sound foreign to us.

    Jana
     

    Tolovaj_Mataj

    Senior Member
    Slovene, Slovenia
    I think Vienna beats it all: even ignoring variants like Vídeň, Viedeň, Wieden, Wien, Vienna, we still got Beč and Dunaj as obviously unrelated names.
    Our Dunaj isn't that much unrelated, if you take the name of the nearest river into account:
    Dunaj = Wien/Beč/...
    Donava = Donau/Dunav/...
    Danube is called Dunaj in Slovak, isn't it?



    Another funny thing is that "Italy" is "Włochy" in Polish ...
    In the past we (Slovenes) called Italy Laško (na Laškem = in Italy) and Italians were called Lahi. Therefrom the surname Lah: a person who came from Italy or had business with Italians.
    Nowadays calling Italians Lahi is considered pejorative.
     
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