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

Terio

Senior Member
Français (Québec)
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.
To me, Beijing is merely the way the Chinese chose to latinize the Chinese name of the city. Moskva would be a way to latinize the Russian name of that city. In French, I see no more reasons to use Beijing or Moskva instead of Pékin and Moscou as to say Lisboa instead of Lisbonne or London instead of Londres.
 
  • Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    In Spain, Pequín is also preferred to Beijing. And wisely so. First, because it's closer in pronunciation, as those pinyin b's are actually /p/'s, and Spaniards would anyway read it as /βej'xin/. Second, because derived words like pequinés make more sense this way.
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    In Spain, Pequín is also preferred to Beijing. And wisely so. First, because it's closer in pronunciation, as those pinyin b's are actually /p/'s, and Spaniards would anyway read it as /βej'xin/. Second, because derived words like pequinés make more sense this way.

    Being closer in pronunciation (to what?) is debatable.

    As far as I know, Pequín or Pekin reflects an older pronunciation (note in particular the k instead of j), while Beijing, being less phonemic in some parts, reflects contemporary pronunciation.
    To pronounce Beijing correctly, you have to actually now some Chinese, at least general reading rules.
    You are mostly right about the first syllable (b stands for an unaspirated p), but you forget that the "ei" is a real diphthong, which is not there in the "Pe" of "Pequín".
    The k is clearly older Chinese (or, maybe, Southern Chinese, which is in many ways more conservative than the way they speak in Northern China), but there's no way a contemporary Northern Chinese native speaker of Chinese would pronounce this as a/k/. On the other hand, the phoneme associated in English with the letter "j" is not really the same as the consonant it represents in Hanyu Pinyin, but it is close enough.
     

    Terio

    Senior Member
    Français (Québec)
    Being closer in pronunciation (to what?) is debatable.

    As far as I know, Pequín or Pekin reflects an older pronunciation (note in particular the k instead of j), while Beijing, being less phonemic in some parts, reflects contemporary pronunciation.
    To pronounce Beijing correctly, you have to actually now some Chinese, at least general reading rules.
    You are mostly right about the first syllable (b stands for an unaspirated p), but you forget that the "ei" is a real diphthong, which is not there in the "Pe" of "Pequín".
    The k is clearly older Chinese (or, maybe, Southern Chinese, which is in many ways more conservative than the way they speak in Northern China), but there's no way a contemporary Northern Chinese native speaker of Chinese would pronounce this as a/k/. On the other hand, the phoneme associated in English with the letter "j" is not really the same as the consonant it represents in Hanyu Pinyin, but it is close enough.
    All right. But why, speaking French, should I use the Chinese name of a city that has a traditionnal name in French ? Should I also change Hannovre to Hannover, Hambourg to Hamburg, Aix-la-Chapelle to Aachen, Munich to München ?

    I guess the Chinese have good reasons to romanize 北京 as Běijīng. People who speak or have studied Chinese may read it correctly, as Polish may read correctly Szczecin, Warszawa or Częstochowa. People who don't know Chinese or Polish cannot. French has Pékin and Varsovie and I have no reason to use Běijīng or Warszawa except in technical contexts.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Being closer in pronunciation (to what?) is debatable.

    As far as I know, Pequín or Pekin reflects an older pronunciation (note in particular the k instead of j), while Beijing, being less phonemic in some parts, reflects contemporary pronunciation.
    To pronounce Beijing correctly, you have to actually now some Chinese, at least general reading rules.
    You are mostly right about the first syllable (b stands for an unaspirated p), but you forget that the "ei" is a real diphthong, which is not there in the "Pe" of "Pequín".
    The k is clearly older Chinese (or, maybe, Southern Chinese, which is in many ways more conservative than the way they speak in Northern China), but there's no way a contemporary Northern Chinese native speaker of Chinese would pronounce this as a/k/. On the other hand, the phoneme associated in English with the letter "j" is not really the same as the consonant it represents in Hanyu Pinyin, but it is close enough.
    As I see it, the problem here is that most transliterations are based on either English or French. If Spanish had been the 'transliterator', we could be seeing Peichín, Chanjáy, Sóul, etc. Instead, we see misguided adaptations, like the Spanish Seúl, from the French Séoul, in which the e's would have been better represented by an o. The question is, what's better? Each language writing them as close as possible in the language to the actual pronunciation? Or everybody writing it in the same way but pronouncing it differently? If the IPA was taught in schools, the solution could be much more simple.
     

    Terio

    Senior Member
    Français (Québec)
    As I see it, the problem here is that most transliterations are based on either English or French. If Spanish had been the 'transliterator', we could be seeing Peichín, Chanjáy, Sóul, etc. Instead, we see misguided adaptations, like the Spanish Seúl, from the French Séoul, in which the e's would have been better represented by an o. The question is, what's better? Each language writing them as close as possible in the language to the actual pronunciation? Or everybody writing it in the same way but pronouncing it differently? If the IPA was taught in schools, the solution could be much more simple.
    Pékin or Pequín are not translitterations. They are, repectively, French and Spanish exonyms of a Chinese toponym, 北京, while Běijīng is the romanization of it, following rules established by Chinese linguists (I suppose).

    In general, when they exist, one uses the exonyms (Varsovie or Varsovia for Warszava, Lisbonne or Lissabon for Lisboa, Cordoue for Córdoba, Burdeos for Bordeaux, etc.). That has been done for centuries and also applies to some Chinese toponyms.The official names (romanized when necessary) are used only in special contexts (maps for examples).

    Since I don't speak Chinese, the spelling Běijīng gives me only a poor idea of the real prononciation, but the same is true with names from other langages I don't speak like Hungarian or Slovak.
     

    symposium

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    Well, I'll tell you the truth: I'm watching a few episodes of "The Crown" show, with many different dubs... And I have realized Princess Margaret has always been Margaret all along in Italian: Principessa Margaret, never Margherita. So I wonder: is it only possible heirs to the throne that have their names translated? On a side note: in the Italian dub they have left the main characters their "official" Italian names: Elisabetta, Carlo, Edoardo etc... I don't think it makes a lot of sense: that show is supposed to let you witness what's going on in the royal family behind the scenes, their intimate lives... I know it's dubbed to start with, but hearing the Queen call her son "Carlo" just ruins it. It's not like you're actually hearing them talk to each other, you're just hearing Italian gossip reports. I think it's right the opposite of what they had in mind...
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Pékin or Pequín are not translitterations. They are, repectively, French and Spanish exonyms of a Chinese toponym, 北京, while Běijīng is the romanization of it, following rules established by Chinese linguists (I suppose).
    They are not transliterations of the way the city is called in the modern Beijing dialect. But they certainly were at the time they were coined from a more southern variety, centuries before.

    I honestly don't see why a k for a j should matter much. After all, they also say Jiātàiluóníyà instead of Catalonia. Quid pro quo. :p
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Well, I'll tell you the truth: I'm watching a few episodes of "The Crown" show, with many different dubs... And I have realized Princess Margaret has always been Margaret all along in Italian: Principessa Margaret, never Margherita. So I wonder: is it only possible heirs to the throne that have their names translated? On a side note: in the Italian dub they have left the main characters their "official" Italian names: Elisabetta, Carlo, Edoardo etc... I don't think it makes a lot of sense: that show is supposed to let you witness what's going on in the royal family behind the scenes, their intimate lives... I know it's dubbed to start with, but hearing the Queen call her son "Carlo" just ruins it. It's not like you're actually hearing them talk to each other, you're just hearing Italian gossip reports. I think it's right the opposite of what they had in mind...
    It also happens in English in "official renderings of princely names". I was taken aback the first time I heard Kate Middleton referred to as "Princess Catherine".
    I also don't know why the current King of Spain was anglicized to King Philip VI whereas his father was always King Juan Carlos I and not King John Charles I.
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    Swedish, Finnish
    It also happens in English in "official renderings of princely names". I was taken aback the first time I heard Kate Middleton referred to as "Princess Catherine".
    Kate Middleton was baptised Catherine Elizabeth, and Kate is a nickname, so her name in official papers is Catherine. To refer to her as "Princess Catherine" is totally wrong, her title is "Catherine, Dutchess of Cambridge". If William hadn't been given a title, then his wife would have been known as "Princess William of Wales", as it's only those who are born to a princess title who are to be known as "Princess Given name" in UK. Other countries have other rules, a woman marrying a royal prince is "Princess Given name" of (country name).
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    I also don't know why the current King of Spain was anglicized to King Philip VI whereas his father was always King Juan Carlos I and not King John Charles I.
    Most probably because there have been other Philips before, but no John Charles.
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    All right. But why, speaking French, should I use the Chinese name of a city that has a traditionnal name in French ? Should I also change Hannovre to Hannover, Hambourg to Hamburg, Aix-la-Chapelle to Aachen, Munich to München ?

    I guess the Chinese have good reasons to romanize 北京 as Běijīng. People who speak or have studied Chinese may read it correctly, as Polish may read correctly Szczecin, Warszawa or Częstochowa. People who don't know Chinese or Polish cannot. French has Pékin and Varsovie and I have no reason to use Běijīng or Warszawa except in technical contexts.

    I am not advocating that you personally, speaking French, should use the Chinese name of a city that has a tradional name in French.
    However, we are living in a time where using exonyms is becoming less and less common and quite a few cities that used to have names of their own in languages not spoken locally have become known under their original names. E. g. Bratislava used to be known as Pressburg in German (Preßburg in pre-1996 spelling, I think). However, today, whenever I read or hear news in German mentioning the Slovak capital, it's always Bratislava and never Pressburg. The same goes for the Slovene capital Ljubljana, historically known as Laibach in German-speaking areas. I see Italians calling Salzburg with the German name Salzburg instead of the Italian Salisburgo, I've heard an Italian call Lübeck Lübeck, although the city has an "official" Italian name: Lubecca. The city of Livorno was historically called Leghorn in English, but there are few native English speakers out there who know this. Generally, the smaller a city is and the less importance it has today (whatever its historical importance), the lesser known it is, the bigger are the odds that the paradigm shift in favour of using the original name (or at least the original spelling) - as an alternative, it's the English name/spelling.
    I am not particularly well-versed in the history of toponym adaptations in French and switching to a form closer to the original, but I'm pretty sure French cannot escape the general tendency.

    Pékin or Pequín are not translitterations. They are, repectively, French and Spanish exonyms of a Chinese toponym, 北京, while Běijīng is the romanization of it, following rules established by Chinese linguists (I suppose).

    It is difficult to speak about "translitterations" from Chinese (there are a few other systems for writing out the pronunciation of Chinese which are not based on the Latin alphabet), but Pékin and Pequín are just exonyms based on older pronunciation.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    I agree this is the trend, but I don't think it applies to French as of yet. Almost every city in Italy, Spain, Greece...for however small it is has a French name. This does cause problems for French tourists sometimes who have no idea what the original is. Pékin, Kiev, Moscou, Le Caire, La Havane, Hambourg, Barcelone are still going strong too.
     
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    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    They are not transliterations of the way the city is called in the modern Beijing dialect. But they certainly were at the time they were coined from a more southern variety, centuries before.

    I honestly don't see why a k for a j should matter much. After all, they also say Jiātàiluóníyà instead of Catalonia. Quid pro quo. :p

    Chinese has such a small repertory of syllables that it is inevitable for foreign names to be strongly distorted. No surprise here. Why it matters to some is probably because /k/ (or the letter k) on one hand and /tɕ/ or /dʒ/ (or the letter j) on the other are not commonly associated with each other.
    However, it would be possible to keep the /k/ sound: one would have had to choose Kao instead of Jia as a transcription for the Ca of Catalunya (or, actually, English "Catalonia").

    J also serves as a substitute for g. The then-boyfriend (or then-husband) of a friend of mine had her name tattooed on his arms and she asked me to check what the meaning of the characters was. Thus, I learned that Olga is Ao-er-jia in Chinese.
     
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    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    Swedish, Finnish
    I agree this is the trend, but I don't think it applies to French as of yet. Almost every city in Italy, Spain, Greece...for however small it is has a French name. This does cause problems for French tourists sometimes who have no idea what the original is. Pékin, Kiev, Moscou, Le Caire, La Havane, Hambourg, Barcelone are still going strong too.
    There maybe French names for cities in Italy, Spain, and Greece, but if my very quick look in Wikipedia and some French maps on the web, it doesn't appear that the French have bothered to "Frenchify" the names of the cities in Sweden and Finland (not important enough? 🤔 ).

    Regarding Finland, as Swedish is an official language there, most town and cities have both a Swedish and a Finnish name. Of what I could see in Wikipedia, in most other languages it's the Finnish names that are used, Norwegian seem to use the Swedish language ones, and in some cases Estonian had their own name.

    Göteborg (second largest city in Sweden) appears as Gothenburg in English, but Göteborg in most other languages, as well as the use of Swedish names for other town and cities.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Here and here you can see the Spanish version of the Swedish and Finnish placenames, including cities and historical provinces.

    In practice, the only ones clearly rooted nowadays are the names of the countries (Suecia and Finlandia), some regions (Laponia, Carelia), as well as that of the Swedish capital, Estocolmo. Even Gotemburgo has gradually given way to Göteborg.

    In Spanish, the Finnish capital is Helsinki, stressed on the sin, while in Catalan we keep the proparoxytone stress, Hèlsinki.
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    Swedish, Finnish
    Here and here you can see the Spanish version of the Swedish and Finnish placenames, including cities and historical provinces.
    Thanks, it was interesting to see, but as a former inhabitant on the island of Gotlandia I noticed that the Swedish name had got a "ö" instead of "o" in the name. Gotland är en ö men innehåller inget ö - Gotland is an island but doesn't contains no (letter) ö.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    There maybe French names for cities in Italy, Spain, and Greece, but if my very quick look in Wikipedia and some French maps on the web, it doesn't appear that the French have bothered to "Frenchify" the names of the cities in Sweden and Finland (not important enough? 🤔
    Unfortunately, I cannot answer your question. I don't have much experience talking about place names in Nordic countries. Would look forward to a whirlwind tour to remedy that.
    I know of Copenhague, Gothembourg and la Scanie, la Carélie, la Laponie. There are probably more.
     

    Nanon

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    To the French list, I can add Upsal (Uppsala), which, like Gothembourg, sounds dated. The French pronounce Göteborg the German way, more or less. I will get back if I remember more translated city names. More than cities, some regions or provinces tend to retain translated names: Dalécarlie, Botnie, Carélie, Jutland, îles Féroé...

    Copenhague and Helsinki are Copenhaga and Helsínquia in European Portuguese and Copenhague and Helsinque in Brazilian Portuguese.
     
    In Spain, Pequín is also preferred to Beijing. And wisely so. First, because it's closer in pronunciation, as those pinyin b's are actually /p/'s, and Spaniards would anyway read it as /βej'xin/. Second, because derived words like pequinés make more sense this way.
    That would be «Πεκίνο» [pe̞ˈcino̞] (neut.) in Greek < Fr. Pékin; also «Καντώνα or «Καντόνα», both are pronounced [kanˈto̞na] (fem.) < Fr. Canton (Guǎngdōng), «Σαγκάη» [s̠aŋˈɡa.i] (fem.) < Fr. Shanghai (Shànghǎi).
    I am not advocating that you personally, speaking French, should use the Chinese name of a city that has a tradional name in French.
    However, we are living in a time where using exonyms is becoming less and less common and quite a few cities that used to have names of their own in languages not spoken locally have become known under their original names. E. g. Bratislava used to be known as Pressburg in German (Preßburg in pre-1996 spelling, I think). However, today, whenever I read or hear news in German mentioning the Slovak capital, it's always Bratislava and never Pressburg. The same goes for the Slovene capital Ljubljana, historically known as Laibach in German-speaking areas...
    Which was the Katharevousian Gr. name of the city: «Πρεσβοῦργον» [pre̞s̠ˈvurɣo̞n] (neut.). Ljubljana was «Λαϊβάχη» [laɪˈvaçi] (fem.) < Laibach, or «Λουβιάνα» [luviˈana] (fem.) < Ljubljana.
    If you're interested in a few exotic Katharevousa Greek exonyms of famous foreign cities/areas/cantons/states:
    Aalst (Belgium) = «Ἀλόστη» [aˈlo̞s̠ti] (fem.).
    Αachen (Germany) = «Ἀκυίσγρανον» [aciˈis̠ɣrano̞n] (neut.).
    Alsace (France) = «Ἀλσατία» [als̠aˈti.a] (fem.)*
    Ancona (Italy) = «Ἀγκών» [aŋˈɡo̞n] (fem.).
    Antwerp (Belgium) = «Ἀμβέρσα» [amˈve̞rs̠a] (fem.)*
    Aragon (Spain) = «Ἀραγονία» [aɾaɣo̞ˈni.a] (fem.)*
    Barcelona (Spain/Catalonia) = «Βαρκελώνη» [varce̞ˈlo̞ni] (fem.)*, earlier «Βαρκινών» [varciˈno̞n] (fem.).
    Basel (Switzerland) = «Βασιλεία» [vas̠iˈli.a] (fem.)*
    Bourgogne (France) = «Βουργουνδία» [vurɣunˈði.a] (fem.)*
    Brugge (Belgium) = «Βρύγη» [ˈvriʝi] (fem.).
    Brussels (Belgium) = «Βρυξέλλες» [vriˈk͡s̠e̞le̞s̠] (fem. nom. pl.)*
    Copenhagen (Denmark) = «Κοπεγχάγη» [ko̞pe̞ŋˈxaʝi] (fem.)*
    Den Haag (Netherlands) = «Χάγη» [ˈxaʝi] (fem.)*
    Frankfurt (Germany) = «Φραγκφούρτη» [fraŋkˈfurti] (fem.)*
    Gent (Belgium) = «Γάνδη» [ˈɣanði] (fem.)*
    Cataluña/Catalunya = «Καταλωνία» or «Καταλονία», both are pronounced [katalo̞ˈni.a] (fem.)*, earlier «Καταλαυνία» [katalaˈvni.a] (fem.).
    Kraków (Poland) = Κρακοβία [kɾako̞ˈvi.a] (fem.)*
    Lazio (Italy) = «Λάτιο(ν)» [ˈlati.o̞(n)] (neut.)*
    Lecce (Italy) = «Ἀλήσιον» [aˈlis̠i.o̞n] (neut.).
    Leipsig (Germany) = «Λειψία» [liˈp͡s̠i.a] (fem.)*
    Lorraine (France) = «Λωραίνη» [lo̞ˈɾe̞ni] (fem.)*
    Mainz (Germany) = «Μαγεντία» [maʝe̞nˈti.a] (fem.).
    Marseille (France) = «Μασσαλία» [mas̠aˈli.a] (fem.)*
    Orléans (France) = «Ορλεάνη» [o̞rle̞ˈani] (fem.)* > «Νέα Ορλεάνη» [ˈne̞.a o̞rle̞ˈani] (fem.)* = New Orleans (US).
    Pomorze (Poland) = «Πομερανία» [po̞meɾaˈni.a] (fem.)*
    Pompeii (Italy) = «Πομπηία» [po̞mbiˈi.a] (fem.)*
    Provence (France) = «Προβηγκία» [pro̞viɲˈɟi.a] (fem.)*
    Rhineland (Germany) = «Ρηνανία» [ɾinaˈni.a] (fem.)*
    Śląsk (Poland) = «Σιλεσία» [s̠ile̞ˈs̠ia] (fem.)*
    Szczecin (Poland) = «Στεττίνο(ν)» [s̠te̞ˈtino̞(n)] (neut.)*
    Thüringen (Germany) = «Θουριγγία» [θuɾiɲˈɟi.a] (fem.)*
    Trieste (Italy) = «Τεργέστη» [te̞rˈʝe̞s̠ti] (fem.)*

    *
    still in everyday use.
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    "«Λουβιάνα» [luviˈana] (fem.) < Ljubljana" is rather from Italian "Lubiana" than directly from Ljubljana.
    I cannot help noticing that many city names either come from Ancient Greek names or Medieval Latinisations. However, there are also forms that come from French (like Γάνδη) and Italian (like said Λουβιάνα, Ἀμβέρσα -cf. Anversa - or Λειψία - cf. Lipsia).
    "Lecce (Italy) = «Ἀλήσιον» [aˈlis̠i.o̞n] (neut.)." This name is indicated as being mentioned only in ancient sources, and not referring to Lecce, but to places in Greece.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    A European country that was indeed translated into non-Slavic languages is the Black Mountain of Crna Gora, which Venetians translated into Monte Negro, Greeks into Μαυροβούνιο, Turks into Karadağ, Albanians into Mali i Zi, Arabs into Al-jabal ul-'aswad, the Chinese into Hēishān, etc.

    Western European languages adopted the Venetian translation, yet Iceland chose to translate it too into Svartfjallaland.
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    Swedish, Finnish
    Just found a couple of interesting ones:
    «Βουρδίγαλα» [vurˈðiɣala] (neut. nom. pl.) = Bordeaux (France), and Toulouse (France) is «Τολώσση» [to̞ˈlo̞s̠i] (fem.), earlier «Θολώδη» [θo̞ˈlo̞ði] ( fem.)
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    US English
    Mandarin (the official language of China) has an official phonetic script called "pinyin". Pinyin uses the roman alphabet symbols, and uses them in a vaguely English way ("t" is t). But it represents the sounds of Mandarin, not the sounds of English.

    Pinyin was designed for Chinese children, not for foreigners. Ever since 1956, every Chinese schoolchild learns pinyin first, then gradually (over 12 years) learns how to read and write all the Chinese characters. In China, adults use pinyin to type on PCs and smartphones. The computer/smartphone turns the pinyin into characters (with help from the user).

    In pinyin Beijing (北京) is "bei-jing", so it seems natural to use the English spelling "Beijing".

    Nowadays, it seems like the English version of most place names in China is the pinyin spelling. Shanghai is "shang-hai", Guangzhuo (near Hong Kong) is "guang-zhuo", Harbin is "ha-r-bin", and so on.
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    You probably mean "Guangzhou". It is the capital of the Guangdong province, which is the only province on which Hongkong borders - and way bigger than Hongkong, although arguably less famous.
    By the way, "Harbin" is a simplification: the Pinyin is actually "Hā'ěrbīn" and the name itself is not Chinese in origin, but Manchu.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    and Toulouse (France) is «Τολώσση» [to̞ˈlo̞s̠i] (fem.), earlier «Θολώδη» [θo̞ˈlo̞ði] ( fem.)
    How comes it was with a ð? Any historical reasons?

    Tolosi looks nice, close to Tolosa. This reminds me of two things that get on my nerves. All those Spaniards saying /po/ for the town of Pau, and all those Brits saying "barTHelona", thinking they know their stuff, when the way of pronouncing them as they did before is actually closer to the real local pronunciation, /paw/ and /bəɾsəˈlonə/.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    All those Spaniards saying /po/ for the town of Pau, and all those Brits saying "barTHelona", thinking they know their stuff, when the way of pronouncing them as they did before is actually closer to the real local pronunciation, /paw/ and /bəɾsəˈlonə/.
    Well, I do this habitually and think it is justified. It's close to the pronunciation of the national language and the one most people use in those places. I also say Strasbourg, Bordeaux, and Nice as in French not Strossburig, Bordèu or Nizza. And Gijón and La Coruña rather than Xixón or A Coruña. I visit New Orleans not Norlins. I do this in English or what ever language.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Well, I do this habitually and think it is justified. It's close to the pronunciation of the national language and the one most people use in those places. I also say Strasbourg, Bordeaux, and Nice as in French not Strossburig, Bordèu or Nizza. And Gijón and La Coruña rather than Xixón or A Coruña. I visit New Orleans not Norlins. I do this in English or what ever language.
    That's what I mean. I find it interesting to see how, even with the new trend of linguistic PCism in vogue in the US, one doesn't mind at all sounding disrespectful with regard to these things.

    Anyway, I must say, if you're speaking Spanish and say Bordeaux, Strasbourg or Nice, expect to be seen as a Francophile weirdo. :p
     
    How comes it was with a ð? Any historical reasons?

    Tolosi looks nice, close to Tolosa. This reminds me of two things that get on my nerves. All those Spaniards saying /po/ for the town of Pau, and all those Brits saying "barTHelona", thinking they know their stuff, when the way of pronouncing them as they did before is actually closer to the real local pronunciation, /paw/ and /bəɾsəˈlonə/.
    It's a typo, apologies, it's «Θολώση» [θo̞ˈlo̞si] (fem.), I misread it and typed it wrongly :thumbsdown:
    Thanks alot for pointing it out.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    That's what I mean. I find it interesting to see how, even with the new trend of linguistic PCism in vogue in the US, one doesn't mind at all sounding disrespectful with regard to these things.

    Anyway, I must say, if you're speaking Spanish and say Bordeaux, Strasbourg or Nice, expect to be seen as a Francophile weirdo. :p
    El autocar con destino a Bordeaux hace escala en Toulouse. Los pasajeros de Marseille tendrán que hacer transbordo.
    The coach going to Bordeaux makes a stop over in Toulouse. Marseille passengers will need to transfer.

    The students party on Ibiza (eebeetha) every spring break, not in Palma de Mallorca (palma day my yorka).

    What's wrong with that? Are you cringing yet? :confused:
     
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    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    El autocar con destino a Bordeaux hace escala en Toulouse. Los pasajeros de Marseille tendrán que hacer transbordo.
    The coach going to Bordeaux makes a stop over in Toulouse. Marseille passengers will need to transfer.

    The students party on Ibiza (eebeetha) every spring break, not in Palma de Mallorca (palma day my yorka).

    What's wrong with that? Are you cringing yet? :confused:
    With Bordeaux and Marseille, yes. Burdeos (or Bordeus in Catalan) and Marsella are very well-rooted. Toulouse is actually said like that by Spanish speakers. In Catalan, though, I say Tolosa, or Tolosa de Llenguadoc if it has to be distinguished.

    I'm used to hear Ibiza by guiris. I've heard them say it in all the possible ways. Brits seem to keep with Majorca, which they do right, as it makes etymological sense and sounds closer to Mallorca than if they actually read Mallorca.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    I'm used to hear Ibiza by guiris. I've heard them say it in all the possible ways. Brits seem to keep with Majorca, which they do right, as it makes etymological sense and sounds closer to Mallorca than if they actually read Mallorca
    I don't believe Americans would. The first time I heard Majorca I wondered if it was another place somewhere else to be pronounced /maxorka/.

    I guess there might be someone who could confuse Tolosa with the place in Jaén.
     
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    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    You probably mean "Guangzhou". It is the capital of the Guangdong province, which is the only province on which Hongkong borders - and way bigger than Hongkong, although arguably less famous.

    Speaking of which, Guangzhou 廣州 is traditionally called Canton in English, whence Cantonese for the language, and is perhaps one of the most enduring exonyms for a place in mainland China. The annual ‘Canton Fair’, which is the largest trade fair in the country, is still known as such, for instance. The reason Canton is so divergent from its pinyin name is that it is in fact derived from the name of the province, Guangdong (historically Kwangtung) 廣東, even though it refers to the city (which is the provincial capital) and not the province, for which Canton Province (rare these days) in full was used.

    Interestingly, Hong Kong 香港 and Macau 澳門 have both retained their exonyms, for they would otherwise be the rather unfamiliar Xianggang and Aomen respectively.
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Well, in Russian at least the name for Macau is somewhat known. There are even two transcriptions: Аомынь (older version) and Аомэнь (newer version).
     

    Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Here in Italy (and presumably elsewhere in Europe), people have learnt the name of one of the pharmaceutical companies producing anti-Covid vaccine: PFIZER. This is evidently a German name, but the company is American and at least the Italian media give it an American pronunciation (no P, a diphthong for the I and an English Z). I suppose this is justified, but the Italians are not well-acquainted with the German language and probably many imagine that this is the correct German pronunciation.
    But I just wonder how this name is pronounced in Germany and Austria; do they consider the U.S. ownership or do they stick to the original pronunciation?
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Pfizer is the American company. The pronunciation in German is relatively close: beginning with the second f, the pronunciation is invariably as in English.
    There are people out there who prononunce the name with the initial p (although it is really silent) or without it, depending on their education. An initial p before some consonants is silent in English (ps and pf appear to be concerned), however, such combinations are but sporadically met in Grecisms and even more seldom in English, so they are not really taught at school. German-language Wiki gives only the correct pronunciation, but I wonder how often it is consulted on that subject.
    By the way, the spelling "Pfizer" itself does not look really German, but rather Americanised: a postvocalic z in genuine German words is usually preceded by a t (same thing as in Nietzsche or zuletzt).

    The German company is called Biontech (from Biopharmaceutical New Technologies), pronounced either [biˈɔntɛk] oder [baɪ̯ˈɔntɛk]. It was founded by a married couple, both of whom have Turkish roots. So the German company already does have its official name in English and English only. The German company's name is the one usually used in German for the vaccine. In theory we know about the American partner, but in practice the knowledge is rarely present in our minds.

    Their joint product is called COMIRNATY and pronounced according to English pronunciation rules.
     

    Terio

    Senior Member
    Français (Québec)
    I am not advocating that you personally, speaking French, should use the Chinese name of a city that has a tradional name in French.
    However, we are living in a time where using exonyms is becoming less and less common and quite a few cities that used to have names of their own in languages not spoken locally have become known under their original names. E. g. Bratislava used to be known as Pressburg in German (Preßburg in pre-1996 spelling, I think). However, today, whenever I read or hear news in German mentioning the Slovak capital, it's always Bratislava and never Pressburg. The same goes for the Slovene capital Ljubljana, historically known as Laibach in German-speaking areas. I see Italians calling Salzburg with the German name Salzburg instead of the Italian Salisburgo, I've heard an Italian call Lübeck Lübeck, although the city has an "official" Italian name: Lubecca. The city of Livorno was historically called Leghorn in English, but there are few native English speakers out there who know this. Generally, the smaller a city is and the less importance it has today (whatever its historical importance), the lesser known it is, the bigger are the odds that the paradigm shift in favour of using the original name (or at least the original spelling) - as an alternative, it's the English name/spelling.
    I am not particularly well-versed in the history of toponym adaptations in French and switching to a form closer to the original, but I'm pretty sure French cannot escape the general tendency.
    You are right in a way. Historical names are probably the first ones to be changed. Smaller towns or cities people seldom speak about also tend to change exonyms to the original names. But even if it is the trend, I don't think names like Lisbonne (or Lisbon in English), Varsovie (or Warsaw), Prague (or Prag), Belgrade, Mouscou (or Moscow), Rome, Athènes (Athens) and many many other exonyms are about to be abandonned. I think that Beijin came about only because of the adoption of Pinyin as a romanization standard.

     

    Terio

    Senior Member
    Français (Québec)
    I agree this is the trend, but I don't think it applies to French as of yet. Almost every city in Italy, Spain, Greece...for however small it is has a French name. This does cause problems for French tourists sometimes who have no idea what the original is. Pékin, Kiev, Moscou, Le Caire, La Havane, Hambourg, Barcelone are still going strong too.
    I don't see the problem. Why should Moscou cause more problems to French speakers than Moscow to English speakers?
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    I don't see the problem. Why should Moscou cause more problems to French speakers than Moscow to English speakers?
    Recent example I saw. French tourists in Greece looking for or talking about Nauplie, Égine, Épidaure, Santourin...(many others) and literally no local knew what they were talking about except other French people.
     

    Terio

    Senior Member
    Français (Québec)
    There maybe French names for cities in Italy, Spain, and Greece, but if my very quick look in Wikipedia and some French maps on the web, it doesn't appear that the French have bothered to "Frenchify" the names of the cities in Sweden and Finland (not important enough? 🤔 ).
    The names of Italian, Spanish, Greek, German, etc. cities and towns have not been really "Frenchified". They evolved like other words from common roots, sometimes from vulgar latin, sometimes from medieval latin, etc. More recent names are not adapted in the written language except, maybe, for accent marks and other orthographic sings : Córdoba (Spain) is Cordoue but Córdoba (Argentina) is Córdoba or Cordoba. (I think there is a trend to keep the accent marks in carefully written texts. The computers made it much easier. It was almost impossible with typewriters.)

    Maps are misleading. I think the convention is to use the official toponyms and that exonyms can be added between parenthesis (French exonyms, for example, in a French atlas). Languages that use other scripts add the difficulty of latinizing the official toponyms.

    If your map or your atlas is supposed to be used in many countries, it makes it even more difficult do deal with latinization and most probably no exonyms at all will be used.
     
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