count - earl

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Jogou, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. Jogou Member


    In a spanish book I read the term "conde" , which translates to "count" in english. However, "earl" also translates to conde n spanish. This would suggest in spanish these are synonimous, but I'm not so sure earl and count are the same in english. Could anyone explain the difference to me please?

  2. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Hullo Jogou. They're effectively the same thing, yes.
    British counts are called earls (their spouses are called countesses; also female earls in their own right are called that).
    Earls from countries other than the UK are called counts.
    I hope this makes sense:)
  3. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    "Earl" is basically the Anglo-Saxon version of "Count." (An earl's wife, by the way, is a countess.) "Count" comes from the Latin comes. So all the Romance countries have "Comtes" and "Condes." The British system replaces this word with a non-Romance form, "Earl."
  4. Jogou Member

    not at all, but I think I understand....:)

  5. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    To put it another way, counts and earls are nobles of the same rank. If one's title is a British title, one is called an "earl" (as in the Earl of Wessex), but if one's title is from any other country, one is called a "count" (as in the Count of Barcelona, or the Count of Paris.) The wives of earls and counts are both called countesses, and women who hold that rank of their own right are also called countesses, even if the title is British. (For example, the 1st Earl Mountbatten had no sons, and was succeeded in his title by his daughter, who became the 2nd Countess Mountbatten; when her son inherits the title, he will be called the 3rd Earl.) In addition, both "earl" and "count" are translated into Latin as comes.
  6. stormwreath Senior Member

    English - England
    Back in the Middle Ages, the Latin word comes (plural comites) was used to describe a particular level of feudal noble: one who ruled an area of land called a 'county'. Originally, back in Charlemagne's day, such nobles were appointed by the king to rule in his name - comes means, literally, 'companion [of the king]'. Later the position tended to become hereditary.

    These nobles were called comites in Latin, but in their own languages they were referred to by different names. In French, Comte; in German, Graf; in English, Earl; in Norse, Jarl. But they were all understood to be the same rank, and essentially the same interchangeable title. For example, the English Earl of Arundel would translate his title into Latin as Comes Arundelliae.

    The title of Earl was already established in England before the Norman conquest. The Normans also used the French word comte, which became count in English; but they adopted the use of the native word earl as well, so both words are now found in English. (It's been speculated that the French-speaking aristocracy quickly learned that if they called themselves counts their English subjects would have dropped the 'o' and sniggered at them; so they hastily adopted the term earls instead...)

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