Translating names: Do you translate foreign names in your language?

natasha2000

Senior Member
To me, it sometimes even feels unnatural or even snobbish to pronounce it "correctly" disregarding the phonetics of the language.
Exactly. That is why in Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian foreign names are transcribed, which means pronounce it as close as it is possible but sound that do not exist in S/C/B, are replaced with the most similar ones. You gave an excellent example. Köln - This "ö" is something between o and e, meaning you put your mouth as if you would say O but you pronounce E. The result is some kind os semisound, something between O and E. Now, since this sound does not exist in S/C/B the closest variant is vocal E. Therefore we say KELN.
Or Barcelona. C as fricative Spanish sound does not exist in S/C/B. Therefore, the closest sound is S, and we pronounce it BARSELONA (BTW, this is how it is pronounced in all American countries). But I also think that this city has different pronunciation in Croatian and Bosnian, who decided to read exactly as it is written - in S/C/B the letter C is pronounced as German TZ, so Croats and Bosnians pronounce this city's name as BARTZELONA.

Everyone who tries to pronounce foreign names in an exact way as it is in foreign language is considered posh and snobbish, as Beclija already mentioned.
 
  • Hakro

    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    Just a couple of years ago it was decided that the names of kings and queens won't be "translated" into Finnish anymore.

    Instead, the name of the countries and some important cities still have a special "Finnish" form:
    Sweden - Ruotsi
    Russia - Venäjä
    Germany - Saksa
    Stockholm – Tukholma
    St. Petersburg – Pietari
    London – Lontoo
    Rome – Rooma
    ...and a few more. These are very old "translations".
    It may also be interesting (at least for us, the Finns) to know that the names of Berlin and Paris were "translated" only after WW2 into the form we pronounce them.

    The main problem, I think, is the transcription of Chinese, Russian etc. names that seem to be different in every language. We should find a transcription that gives the reader an idea how to pronounce the name but the written form is different in every language.
     

    Victoria32

    Senior Member
    English (UK) New Zealand
    Just a couple of years ago it was decided that the names of kings and queens won't be "translated" into Finnish anymore.

    Instead, the name of the countries and some important cities still have a special "Finnish" form:
    Sweden - Ruotsi
    Russia - Venäjä
    Germany - Saksa
    Stockholm – Tukholma
    St. Petersburg – Pietari
    London – Lontoo
    Rome – Rooma
    ...and a few more. These are very old "translations".
    It may also be interesting (at least for us, the Finns) to know that the names of Berlin and Paris were "translated" only after WW2 into the form we pronounce them.

    The main problem, I think, is the transcription of Chinese, Russian etc. names that seem to be different in every language. We should find a transcription that gives the reader an idea how to pronounce the name but the written form is different in every language.
    Very interesting, Hakro! Finnish seems a very difficult language to me, (I know that's subjective) I note the similarity (Stockholm = Tukholma) and the differences (Sweden = Ruotsi).
    Off topic but only slightly, my son the motor racing fanatic, likes to listen on the internet to Radio Helsinki, which broadcasts a lot in English...)
     

    Hakro

    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    Very interesting, Hakro! Finnish seems a very difficult language to me, (I know that's subjective) I note the similarity (Stockholm = Tukholma) and the differences (Sweden = Ruotsi).
    Off topic but only slightly, my son the motor racing fanatic, likes to listen on the internet to Radio Helsinki, which broadcasts a lot in English...)
    Thank you, Victoria!
    Recently I read about a British linguist who said that Finnish is not a very difficult language, but I don't believe him because it seems to be very difficult for most of the Finns...
    The Finnish name of Sweden, "Ruotsi", is supposed to come from the Swedish county of Roslagen. You know, the first Swedes came here before there was a state named Sweden, so they said they are from Roslagen.
    It's funny that also the name of Russia may have the same origin, because it was the Swedish "vikings" (from Roslagen?) who founded the Russian state in Novgorod (even this is a Swedish name: something like "New Garden").
    The Finnish Broadcasting Company also gives news in Latin. I haven't listened but I believe that there are no translations of names into Latin. Are there any latinists who know better?
     

    Victoria32

    Senior Member
    English (UK) New Zealand
    Thank you, Victoria!
    Recently I read about a British linguist who said that Finnish is not a very difficult language, but I don't believe him because it seems to be very difficult for most of the Finns...
    The Finnish name of Sweden, "Ruotsi", is supposed to come from the Swedish county of Roslagen. You know, the first Swedes came here before there was a state named Sweden, so they said they are from Roslagen.
    It's funny that also the name of Russia may have the same origin, because it was the Swedish "vikings" (from Roslagen?) who founded the Russian state in Novgorod (even this is a Swedish name: something like "New Garden").
    The Finnish Broadcasting Company also gives news in Latin. I haven't listened but I believe that there are no translations of names into Latin. Are there any latinists who know better?
    Thank you Hakro for that information... it makes sense to me! :)
     

    Hakro

    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    Thank you Hakro for that information... it makes sense to me! :)
    I forgot to tell you that New Zealand is in Finnish "Uusi-Seelanti". It's half-translated: New is in Finnish "uusi" and "Seelanti" is just a twisted form of Zealand, which is originally a twisted form of the Dutch word Zeeland according to the Dutch province where Abel Janszoon Tasman and his group came from in 1642. I'm sure you knew this but it may be interesting information for other people.
     

    Victoria32

    Senior Member
    English (UK) New Zealand
    I forgot to tell you that New Zealand is in Finnish "Uusi-Seelanti". It's half-translated: New is in Finnish "uusi" and "Seelanti" is just a twisted form of Zealand, which is originally a twisted form of the Dutch word Zeeland according to the Dutch province where Abel Janszoon Tasman and his group came from in 1642. I'm sure you knew this but it may be interesting information for other people.
    Half translated, that's interesting! I shall tell my son...
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Very interesting, Hakro! Finnish seems a very difficult language to me, (I know that's subjective) I note the similarity (Stockholm = Tukholma) and the differences (Sweden = Ruotsi).
    It is difficult, I can say it for sure - I've been leaning Finnish for two years. :)
    Finnish names of countries and cities are very curious, indeed.
     

    ronanpoirier

    Senior Member
    Brazil - Portuguese
    Etcetera said:
    Finnish names of countries and cities are very curious, indeed.
    In Hungarian it is too. Mostly countries have the suffix "ország" which means "country". So to Hungary we have "Magyarország". In Hungarian, I think it's fun Italy and Russia: Olaszország and Oroszország.

    And about the topic, I don't know if it was already mentioned, but we (Portuguese speakers) don't translate names, but for immigrants, here in Brazil, in the 1800's, some might have had their names changed because of the pronounce and stuff. We only translate historical names such as "Francisco Ferdinando" and "Cristovão Colombo".


    EDIT: It's not a translation, but something like an equivalent of the name in Portuguese.
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    In Hungarian it is too. Mostly countries have the suffix "ország" which means "country". So to Hungary we have "Magyarország". In Hungarian, I think it's fun Italy and Russia: Olaszország and Oroszország.
    It's interesting how similar are the Hungarian names for Italy and Russia. :)
    Can you tell me, Ronanpoirier, how are they pronounced?
     

    Blackleaf

    Banned
    English/Britain
    There are many French placenames in England. They were given their names by the Normans after the Norman Conquest. However, the British don't pronoucne the French place names as the French would pronounce them.

    For example, there is a town in Hampshire called Beaulieu. It was named by the Normans. It means "beautiful place." But it is pronounced "Bewly."
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    A brilliant article! Thank you very much, Blackleaf.
    When people study Finnish abroad it is most often once a week for perhaps two hours at a time in an evening class. Most teachers give students some home work but many students do not do it.
    That's the actual case with us... We have three Finnish lessons a week, but of course it's too little. And as Finnish is only our minor language, we just can't devote to it as much time as to English, for example.
    My dream's of going to Finland and doing a course in Finnish there, so I could at once have the opportunity to practise it...
     

    ferdinando

    Member
    Turkey / Turkish
    in Turkish we use Londra instead of London or Köln for Cologne etc..but some of them stay the same..for instance madrid is madrid porto is porto though spanish people calls it Oporto...
     

    La Bruja Libanesa

    Member
    Lebanon, Arabic
    In Lebanon usually we don't have problems so we keep the names as they are, but there we also tend to arabize some ( in the oral language) by adding to them arabic language charcteristics ( plural or feminin) ex : pantalon in French becomes in oral plural pantalonet ( the T in arabic is one of plural ت)
    Some foreign words have existed since so long that they have changed to the oral modification due to mishearings sometimes : ex chambre à air ( french) became orally chamberyer ( it is even written like this in arabic)
    شمبريار
    but on another note, educated people do consider that this way is to the low class people so they try to pronounce the word in its original pronounciation
     

    CrazyArcher

    Senior Member
    Russia/Russian
    Also in Russian, Latin and Greek names are modified. 'Claudius' turns into 'Klavdiy', and the '-es' ending in Greek names is omitted.
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    One thing I've always found puzzling is that Rio de Janeiro is not traslated in most languages, so we hear it pronounced in every way one can think of! Perhaps this is because a translation of it might sound meaningless: The River of January.
     
    I think, Ivory Coast is translated in most languages (correct me if I am wrong), Archangel in the north of Russia is usually trsnlated. For most part, I think, names are not translated. Buenos Aires, Koebenhavn, Krasnodar primarily come to mind. However!! If there is a river involved: Rostov-on-Don, Stoke-on-Trent, Frankfurt-am-Main is definitely translated in Russian and Latvian.
     

    Nanon

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    Sorry, Setwale Charm, but I think Copenhagen is translated...

    This thread reminds me of a classical joke (but it really happened a thousand times) about French visitors getting lost in Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium): they search vainly for the direction of "Lille" *, but in Flanders all road signs are in Dutch, so most of them read "Rijsel"... :D:D:D

    * ... but Lille is in France, not in Belgium!
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    Rio de Janeiro, as far as I know, is not translated, but Brasil is (Brazil, Brésil, etc.). São Paulo always loses its tilde, of course, and is sometimes spelt Sao Paolo.

    In Portuguese we use translated versions for London (Londres), Edimburgh (Edimburgo), but we do not translate Cardiff, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Belfast and Dublin, just to mention the name of cities in the British Isles.

    We translate the name of all major German cities, except for Berlin (but we spell it Berlim), and some French cities as well: Marseille becomes Marselha; Versailles, Versalhes and Bordeaux is sometimes translated as Bordéus - but in Brazil (I don't know about Portugal) we don't translate Bordeaux anymore because it would sound like the plural of the word bordéu in Portuguese, which means brothel.

    Just out of curiosity: does anyone here translate Rio de Janeiro to his or her language? I'd like to know.

    As for people's names, I've seen misspelt foreign names sometimes, but not translated ones. The region where my grandparents come from was settled by German immigrants and there you find lots of Zimmerman (with one n at the end only), Loubak (instead of Loubach), and so on. I've never heard of anyone whose surname is Carpinteiro ( a translation from the German Zimmermann). The flip side of it is that sometimes people have a hard time spitting out their own names, like a friend of mine whose last name is Pültzl (a sound impossible to decipher in Portuguese).
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    São Paulo always loses its tilde, of course, and is sometimes spelt Sao Paolo.
    I think that's just because people mistake it for an Italian name.

    We translate the name of all major German cities, except for Berlin (but we spell it Berlim), and some French cities as well: Marseille becomes Marselha; Versailles, Versalhes and Bordeaux is sometimes translated as Bordéus - but in Brazil (I don't know about Portugal) we don't translate Bordeaux anymore because it would sound like the plural of the word bordéu in Portuguese, which means brothel.
    The word for "brothel" is bordel, Macu (plural bordéis). We still call the French city Bordéus in Portugal, though as a colour it is often left in French, bordeaux.
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    The word for "brothel" is bordel, Macu (plural bordéis).
    (Hanging my head in shame) That's true, Outsider :eek:.

    If I were Portuguese and pronounced the final L like an L (or if I had remembered the correct plural form), I wouldn't have made this faux pas. But in Brasil, bordéu and bordel are pronounced just the same way. That's a mistake we can easily make.
     

    jonquiliser

    Senior Member
    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    Hi everybody.
    In Romanian we almost never translate proper names, and we pronounce them as close to their original pronunciations as possible. There are exceptions, of course, mostly names of countries and a few city names. However, I have noticed that in other languages not only do they apply the rules of pronunciation of their own language, but even translate them.
    For instance, for Romanians New York is New York (pronounced as in English) whereas for the Spanish it's Nueva York. For us Zurich is Zurich, for the Italians is Zurigo etc.
    Hungarians, for example, even translate writers' names. For them Jules Verne is Verne Gyula, which seems rather odd to me.
    As a general rule, many countries have specific names in Swedish (i.e. Swedish names, and not the name by which the country is known in that country). For example, Romania is Rumänien, France is Frankrike, Brasil is Brasilien, Ivory Coast is Elfenbenskusten. With cities and towns it depends, some have translated names, but the vast majority don't. Usually this depends on what the historical relations have been to those places; towns more closer by or which historically have had wide importance/influence are more likely to have a 'translated' name. Same with lakes, seas etc. Mountains generally have 'adapted' names; the Pyrénées/Pirineos etc are Pyrenneerna, the Andes are Anderna, and so on.

    The pronounciation, well, that's up to others to say whether they are pronounced according to the 'original' :D At least efforts are often made to enounce something that resembles the name as pronounced in the original language ;)

    Incidentally, kings and queens and tzars etc usually have translated names. So counting all there must have been innumerable kings known by the name of Karl (Charles) :rolleyes:
     

    Judiths

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hello:
    As many proper names can be translated into other languages above all those which are mentioned on the bible (for example Santiago in Spanish, Giacomo in Italian, James in English) I was wondering if exist at least a slightest correspondence (at least for biblical names) between proper names in all languages (especially with those like Japanese or Chinese which are less similar from Latin) What do you think?
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    Hello:
    As many proper names can be translated into other languages above all those which are mentioned on the bible (for example Santiago in Spanish, Giacomo in Italian, James in English) I was wondering if exist at least a slightest correspondence (at least for biblical names) between proper names in all languages (especially with those like Japanese or Chinese which are less similar from Latin) What do you think?
    I also find all of that very strange - the only clear rule I can make out of it is that in Spanish it is done with all names of the Royals.

    But it doesn't stop there - look at what happens when the Royals marry:

    A French count with the very French name "Henri" has to spend the rest of his life with the name "Henrik" - just because he married a Danish princess.
     

    palomnik

    Senior Member
    English
    It seems to me that at least in English it is a matter of whether a historical individual has entered into public consciousness in one form or another. Most historians who have to deal with this in English will note in the prefaces to their writings that "if a standard form of a name exists in English, we have used that form", or some words to that effect.

    Some writers buck the trend. A prominent English specialist on Russian history from the early 20th century, Bernard Pares, wrote an excellent history of Russia, but insisted on referring to Ivan the Terrible as "John the Dread." It never caught on.
     

    Drechuin

    Senior Member
    France ; french
    translating names exists in probably all countries but I think it's not okay!
    Writing Владимир Владимирович Путин in an French (or English or Spanish) newspaper would make it very difficult to read.
    Therefore translation of names are needed.
    In the same way, some languages may have very different pronunciations for a same word (a word with the same spelling). Should we choose to respect the spelling of the name or its pronunciation? We can't have both.
     

    Judiths

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    translating names exists in probably all countries but I think it's not okay!
    I agree with you, but it exists. I'm refering above all, as I said, to biblical names, so my question is if it is extended to all languages without exception and it is not like this how they write biblical names? in hebrew? but isn't it less correct since they have a different writting?
     

    Fernando

    Senior Member
    Spain, Spanish
    "The terrible" is not exactly Russian, anyhow.

    As far as I have heard, English-speaking people DO translate foreign names, specially for kings, EXCEPT Juan Carlos I.

    As an example, the contemporary of Elizabeth II, Felipe II, is commonly conveyed as "Phillip II".

    The reason is very simple. At least in Spain, people do not know how to pronounce the names in English (let alone German or Russian). It is very funny to see the people saying "Gwyneth Paltrow" or "Ahmadineyad (probably I have written it badly)".

    The same for English people saying "Aznar" or "Zapatero".

    So, I do not have any ethical problem "translating" the names and I have no problem when hearing/reading "Corunna" or "Spain".
     

    Judiths

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Writing Владимир Владимирович Путин in an French (or English or Spanish) newspaper would make it very difficult to read.
    Therefore translation of names are needed.
    In the same way, some languages may have very different pronunciations for a same word (a word with the same spelling). Should we choose to respect the spelling of the name or its pronunciation? We can't have both.
    Yes, this is what I wanted to say, I absolutely agree with you!
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    Writing Владимир Владимирович Путин in an French (or English or Spanish) newspaper would make it very difficult to read.
    Therefore translation of names are needed.
    In the same way, some languages may have very different pronunciations for a same word (a word with the same spelling). Should we choose to respect the spelling of the name or its pronunciation? We can't have both.
    Although I could live with that, I am not sure I would recognize "Jackie Chan" written in Chinese.

    Some just have to be transcribed in Latin letters - that is still a far step from changing them. And I think you are right - it happens everywhere but they all seem to have different norms deciding when or what.

    I can partly understand that some cultures have begun doing so in those days where you did not hear foreign names in the electronic media all the time - but in our time I find it very confusing sometimes. I took more than a decade before I realized that the guy we'd call "der heilige Franz" in Germany had anything to do with the monks that founded the mission station San Francisco in California.
     

    Joannes

    Senior Member
    Belgian Dutch
    In Belgium we only translate the names of our own royalties. :)

    Le roi Baudouin was called Koning Boudewijn in the North and König Balduin in the German-speaking community, and King Albert's name is pronounced the Dutch way in Flanders (at least in the media, in the streets people just say Albèr :)).

    Prince Philippe (Crown Prince) is written <Filip> in Flanders, but the pronunciation is only different in the stress pattern. Same for his daughter Princess Elizabeth. Seems like the court is opting for 'bilingual' names nowadays.
     

    EmilyD

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    I only recently learned that the city now known as Vilnius has about 5 (or more??) names.

    One of those names is: Vilna. That might be Yiddish.

    Another name is: Wilno. Probably misspelled--I apologize--might be Polish.

    **************

    I've never understood the London/Londres translation. -i.e. yes, they represent the same city, but which name is "older"?...

    Thank you all belatedly and in advance.;)

    Fondly,

    Nomi
     

    Drechuin

    Senior Member
    France ; french
    I can partly understand that some cultures have begun doing so in those days where you did not hear foreign names in the electronic media all the time - but in our time I find it very confusing sometimes. I took more than a decade before I realized that the guy we'd call "der heilige Franz" in Germany had anything to do with the monks that founded the mission station San Francisco in California.
    As you say, the origin of the translation of some names is not new. It's deeply ingrained in our languages, so it has now become an "official" translation, no matter how many electronic media we will have (people won't change from Benoit XVI to Benedetto XVI or Benedictus XVI).

    But I have the baseless impression that new names are less changed (they are changed to be readable and speakable, of course, but no more).
    Moreover, some foreign names (mainly Asian) have changed names, to be closer to the original (for example Pékin is now called Beijing).
     

    Fernando

    Senior Member
    Spain, Spanish
    Moreover, some foreign names (mainly Asian) have changed names, to be closer to the original (for example Pékin is now called Beijing).
    At least in the Spanish reading, "Beijing" is further from the original than "Pekín" (the "traditional" one).

    Beijing should be read by a Spanish-speaker as /Beijíng/ (j=English kh) and g wholly pronounced. If he knows some English he will say /Beiyín/ (Y= English j)

    As far as I know pinyin (not much) and according Wiki:

    b: [p] unaspirated p, as in spit
    j: like q, but unaspirated. (To get this sound, first take the sound halfway between joke and check, and then slowly pass it backwards along the tongue until it is entirely clear of the tongue tip.) While this exact sound is not used in English, the closest match is the j in ajar, not the s in Asia; this means that "Beijing" is pronounced like "bay-jing", not like "beige-ing".

    So, Beijing it would be /Paiqín/ or /Peiqín/, wich I find closer to the traditional Spanish (or French) term.
     

    Lugubert

    Senior Member
    I could go on for (p)ages on this subject. I got really interested when I in the sixties worked for a summer in Basle/Basel/Bâle/Basilea and found trilingual (German/French/Italian) street names everywhere.

    Now that I'm in religious studies, it's often Latin and Greek names that cause problems. Most course books are in English, so it's Homer for my Swedish Homeros , Livy for Livius, Philo for Filon etc etc.

    I love the confusion. For years, I wrote little slips with equivalents, like, the French town Rijssel (Dutch) = Lille (French). I even thought that one day, I'd enter all those in a spreadsheet and/or publish a book. Then arrived the Internet.

    These questions easily get political. During not too many months, some Swedes thought it was politically correct to refer to the country Kampuchea. Rather soon, everybody went back to Kambodja. I still use Burma, despite the not too perfect English transcription, because I feel that the local pronunciation of Myanmar doesn't differ too much from that of Burma.

    Right now, I'm sometimes trying to understand the different renderings of Chinese words including proper names. I try to stick to the traditional Swedish names where provided like Peking. It's our name for that city. Nobody else should bother about that. These days, many, not all, Chinese pronounce it more like Beijing. Again, they're not Swedes. There's now also Nanjing for old Nanking, the poet Li Bai, formerly written Li Po etc.

    I accept that names change. We don't any more ever refer to our neighbour Norwegian town Trondhjem/Trondheim as Nidaros. Who growing up post-1930 can even place Constantinople on the map? Say Istanbul, and I hope that the number of correct answers will increase.

    I have noticed that I at least in some settings, I prefer the more recent names of Indian cities: Chennai for Madras, Kolkata for Calcutta, Mumbai for Bombay, Pune for Poona, Darjiling for Darjeeling and many others. I'm more hesitant about Nai Dilli for New Delhi, though. It's too close to the capital of East Timor, Dili.

    Gotta end there. It's late here and now.
     

    vince

    Senior Member
    English
    At least in the Spanish reading, "Beijing" is further from the original than "Pekín" (the "traditional" one).

    Beijing should be read by a Spanish-speaker as /Beijíng/ (j=English kh) and g wholly pronounced. If he knows some English he will say /Beiyín/ (Y= English j)

    As far as I know pinyin (not much) and according Wiki:

    b: [p] unaspirated p, as in spit
    j: like q, but unaspirated. (To get this sound, first take the sound halfway between joke and check, and then slowly pass it backwards along the tongue until it is entirely clear of the tongue tip.) While this exact sound is not used in English, the closest match is the j in ajar, not the s in Asia; this means that "Beijing" is pronounced like "bay-jing", not like "beige-ing".

    So, Beijing it would be /Paiqín/ or /Peiqín/, wich I find closer to the traditional Spanish (or French) term.
    The closest way to write the Mandarin pronunciation of "Beijing" using Spanish spelling would be "Bechin". "Ch" is closer to Pinyin "j" than Spanish "qu" is.
     

    mally pense

    Senior Member
    England, UK English
    That rule isn't universal in Spain. In fact it is more common not to translate, for example :

    Vladimir Putin (not Vladimiro)
    George Bush (not Jorge)
    Jacques Chirac (not Santiago/Diego/Jaime)

    I don't know what rule applies, maybe it's only for the royalty.
    Of course, in France, special consideration has to be given to the translation of Vladimir Putin because of the proximity in spelling and sound (at least if spoken as written) to "putain", meaning "whore".

    While the written form of the surname sometimes remains as Putin, it is alternatively written as Poutine, which presumably doesn't have the same unfortunate similarities. Regardless of the written form, the name is always pronounced "Poutine" - at least as far as I've encoutered it on French radio.

    There may be other examples of famous names not translating too well into different languages of course.
     

    Nanon

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    There may be other examples of famous names not translating too well into different languages of course.
    Oh, yes... Think of the French sculptor Bourdelle. In Spanish and Portuguese, that name sounds bad...
    Quoting from the Spanish Wikipedia: Antoine Bourdelle (pronunciación aprox: "antoán burdel' "). :D
    Yet this was not found a valid reason to change the spelling of his name!... But this seldom happens with names of persons, when they are not transliterated.

    About Putin / Poutine, the French spelling is an attempt to reflect the original Russian pronunciation... Eltsine, Soljenitsyne, Pouchkine, etc... also end with an e. How fortunate for Poutine!
     

    palomnik

    Senior Member
    English
    "The terrible" is not exactly Russian, anyhow.
    Actually, Fernando, "terrible" is a pretty good translation of Russian грозный, at least at the time that the word was translated. "Terrible" originally meant "striking terror", and its meaning has been debased, the same as "awful" and "awesome" in English.

    But that's material for another thread. To get back on subject, there is a considerable difference between translating the names of royalty or having native names for neighboring countries, and the practice in many countries of requesting that foreigners use their native names, as in such cases as Beijing, Myanmar, Chennai, etc. The practice, as far as I know, started under Ataturk's government, when he requested that the world say Istanbul instead of Constantinople, and at about the same time when Reza Khan wanted the world to say Iran instead of Persia. As good members of the world community, we generally follow suit, but it really makes no more sense than if the German government asked everybody to call their country Deutschland instead of Germany. I think even Germans would find that a bit silly.
     

    Fernando

    Senior Member
    Spain, Spanish
    Actually, Fernando, "terrible" is a pretty good translation of Russian грозный, at least at the time that the word was translated. "Terrible" originally meant "striking terror", and its meaning has been debased, the same as "awful" and "awesome" in English.
    I meant that English-speaking world is not simply transliterating (Ivan Grozny or Vasilievich) but translating (Ivan the Terrible).

    Edit: In Spanish the name is the same "Iván el Terrible" (Iván is a not-so-uncommon name in Spain, so it is not conveyed as "Juan" (John) but with the translteration, accenting the name with Spanish general rules). "Terrible" in Spanish" means "violent, who inspires terror/fear", I assume the same in (old) English.

    I totally agree with you in the general principle. On my part, I hereby renounce the obligation to say "España" instead of Espagne/Spanien/Spagna/Spanien...

    ...even I would be delighted to see the tries to pronounce it.
     

    Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    A comment about "Beijing" and other Chinese names.
    This spelling dates from the late 1970s, when the Chinese government, tired of seeing every nation spelling Chinese names in its own way, decided to establish a standard international spelling in the Latin alphabet.
    Although this contained some very strange phonetics (for example the "ch" sound is now represented by a "q"), it was adopted by the English-speaking countries, who were used to illogical spellings in their own language. Mao Tse-Tung became Mao Zedong, Teng Hsiao-Ping became Deng Xiaoping and so on.
    I don't know if any other countries adopted the system, but it had no success in Italy. Very few Italians would recognise Beijing as the capital of China and even less would they know how to pronounce it. Older names, written with English phonetics, are simply pronounced all'italiana: Hong Kong is pronounced without the H and with the final G separate from the N.

    The point here is that Beijing and Nanjing are not changes of name, but an attempt to establish an international standard for the existing ones. But if Europeans do not even learn the phonetics of each other's languages, why expect them to do it with Chinese? This is why the attempt failed.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I like Pinyin. I think it's a clever application of the Latin alphabet (and much more orderly than English orthography!) The phonetic value of Pinyin "q" is an aspirated voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate, a sound not found in most European languages. However, it does probably resemble a "ksh" sound somewhat.
     
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