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

Terio

Senior Member
Français (Québec)
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 is sometimes hard to decide. In French, Gérone for example, is traditional. So, the change from Gerona (Spanish) to Girona (catalan) makes no problem. In French, it remains Gérone. But I hesitate between Lérida and Lleida. Lérida is more likely to be recognized. Lleida is more respectful of the now official name.

Other difficult cases (for me) :

Kiev or Kiyiv ? Can Kiev be considered like a French exonym ? Or is it only a latinized Russian name ?

Bombay or Mumbai ?
 
  • symposium

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    I don't understand what the problem is with keeping the traditional name a foreign city has in a specific language when speaking that language... Is that offensive? Do Brits go mad when they hear a French person say "Londres" while speaking French? Do French people sleep at night knowing that in English they say "Paris" with an S at the end? I've heard a few times people say "Milano" while speaking in English I couldn't help but wonder: don't they know that city's name is "Milan" in English?
     

    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    It's not really a "problem". It's rather a desire for authenticity. Sometimes, it's just plain ignorance (=not knowing).

    And sometimes, it stems instead from a desire to show off. Those who insist on pronouncing Budapest /buːdəpɛʃt/ in English, for instance, do rather get my goat. Yes, we know that you know how it is pronounced in Hungarian, but we’re speaking English now.
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Maybe. A few years ago I met a young Australian (I think he was sixteen years old at the moment) who had been spending some time in Germany and who had began to pronounce the name of the Hungarian capital the Hungarian way after visiting the city.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    And sometimes, it stems instead from a desire to show off. Those who insist on pronouncing Budapest /buːdəpɛʃt/ in English, for instance, do rather get my goat. Yes, we know that you know how it is pronounced in Hungarian, but we’re speaking English now.
    That is partly what I meant. And even more when saying Barcelona or Milan in English is indeed closer to the real local name, what makes the attempt to show off even more embarrassing.
     

    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Those who insist on pronouncing Budapest /buːdəpɛʃt/ in English, for instance, do rather get my goat. Yes, we know that you know how it is pronounced in Hungarian, but we’re speaking English now.
    A few years ago I met a young Australian (I think he was sixteen years old at the moment) who had been spending some time in Germany and who had began to pronounce the name of the Hungarian capital the Hungarian way after visiting the city.
    Yes, Budapest is a strange case. I think that one of the reasons for the phenomenon is that the spelling of the English and Hungarian versions is the same.

    I'm pretty sure the same "Budapesht" people keep saying Lisbon, Prague, Vienna or Copenhagen in English, not Lisboa, Praha, Wien or København.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    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.
    This reminds me of an incident when I was in college. My ancient history professor was from Germany and kept referring to Herodot (accent on the first syllable) one day in his lecture; it was on the Persians, as I recall. I kept thinking, "Gee, this HERodot said the same things about the Persians as HeRODotus did ..."
    <SUDDEN BURST OF ENLIGHTENMENT>
    Thank God I figured that out before I raised my hand to ask which one copied from the other.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    That is partly what I meant. And even more when saying Barcelona or Milan in English is indeed closer to the real local name, what makes the attempt to show off even more embarrassing.
    Yes, especially when the speaker has to suddenly alter all their normal vowels in order to pronounce the place name according to the language of the people whose place it is. Reporters on NPR (National Public Radio) in the US used to go right along merrily using their ordinary standard American accents until they got to something like Nicaragua, when suddenly the country name sounded as though it were badly dubbed in.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Yes, especially when the speaker has to suddenly alter all their normal vowels in order to pronounce the place name according to the language of the people whose place it is. Reporters on NPR (National Public Radio) in the US used to go right along merrily using their ordinary standard American accents until they got to something like Nicaragua, when suddenly the country name sounded as though it were badly dubbed in.
    NPR reporters are the most likely people to say "live from Budapésht" or "reporting from historic Praha". Yesterday I heard a PBS anchor say "Kyiv" and Afghanistan and Pakistan pronounced "Ahfghahneestáahn", "Pahkeestáahn".
    These people will also say "Côte d'Ivoire".

    I don't think it is showing off or always showing off. There is a growing movement as Angelo brought out before that says it is disrespectful to anglicize any name. If they don't know to pronounce a name they will give it a French or Spanish sound.... to it.

    They do this with people too: Creesteenah Fayrnaahdays
     
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    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    I was thinking about the first time I noticed it, in the 1990s when I listened to NPR on the way to work. It sounded show-offy then because they seemed to be trying SO hard.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    I don't think it is showing off or always showing off. There is a growing movement as Angelo brought out before that says it is disrespectful to anglicize any name.
    If it's the name of a person, the US rule is "pronounce it the way the person pronounces it". Many English names (both first and last names) have multiple pronunciations with the same spelling. The same happens with foreign person names.

    But I think you are talking about place names (cities, provinces, countries).

    For that, there may be a difference between the US and UK. Around half the people in the US are farther than 2,000 km from the nearest non-English-speaking country (Mexico). But "within 2,000 km of London" covers several countries and languages.
     

    Terio

    Senior Member
    Français (Québec)
    I don't think it is showing off or always showing off. There is a growing movement as Angelo brought out before that says it is disrespectful to anglicize any name. If they don't know to pronounce a name they will give it a French or Spanish sound.... to it.
    But, is it really possible no to anglicize them? Who can master the right phonetics for all the toponyms of the world? You may try to say Lisboa instead of Lisbon, but unless you know portugese (European portugese in that case), you will only read the letters as if they formed an English word. And since English orthography, anyway, is so misleading, you will be at risk of sounding more ridiculous than respectful.

    When no exonym exists (let's say São Paulo), you have no choice. If you have the chance to hear it, you may imitate it as well as you can. If all you have is the written form and you don't have the means to check the original prononciation, you have no choice to try to read it.

    When exonyms exist (and persist), they show that there are historical and cultural links between the countries. To me, they are a precious legacy.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    There are no French exonyms for South America. I wonder why they escaped it. No Bonaire, Caraques, Saint Paul, or Saint Jacques du Chili, Saint Joseph de la Côte Riche.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    Is French widely spoken in South America? I only know about one South American country that speaks French: French Guiana. This country is a member of the EU.

    Oh wait, you are talking about exonyms (words used in France), so this isn't relevant.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Is French widely spoken in South America? I only know about one South American country that speaks French: French Guiana. This country is a member of the EU.

    Oh wait, you are talking about exonyms (words used in France), so this isn't relevant.
    Kind of relevant... Guyane Française does have French names for its towns and regions.... so I shouldn't have said South America.
     
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    Terio

    Senior Member
    Français (Québec)
    There are no French exonyms for South America. I wonder why they escaped it. No Bonaire, Caraques, Saint Paul, or Saint Jacques du Chili, Saint Joseph de la Côte Riche.
    If you mean only cities and towns, there are few : Mexico (Sp. : Ciudad de México), Cartagène (Sp. : Cartegena).

    If you include countries, states or provinces, regions, rivers, etc, there are quite a few : Mexique (México), Guatémala (Guatemala), Vénézuela (Venezuela), Colombie, Pérou, Brésil, Argentine, Chili, Bolivie, Surinam, Amazone, Amazonie, Patagonie, Pernambouc, baie de Tous les Saints, Basse-Californie.

    When the Americas were "discovered" and named by the Europeans, the fashion to "translate" geographical names was over.

    By the way, you may be interested in the following list of USA toponyms of French origin : Liste des toponymes d'origine française aux États-Unis — Wikipédia
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    There are no French exonyms for South America. I wonder why they escaped it. No Bonaire, Caraques, Saint Paul, or Saint Jacques du Chili, Saint Joseph de la Côte Riche.

    When the Americas were "discovered" and named by the Europeans, the fashion to "translate" geographical names was over.
    I'd rather say that what was over was the dual versions of any name, be it of a person, place, etc, in the local language and in Latin. Most translated exonyms were adapted from the Latin versions, which in many places used to be the most used in documents.
     
    If you mean only cities and towns, there are few : Mexico (Sp. : Ciudad de México), Cartagène (Sp. : Cartegena).

    If you include countries, states or provinces, regions, rivers, etc, there are quite a few : Mexique (México), Guatémala (Guatemala), Vénézuela (Venezuela), Colombie, Pérou, Brésil, Argentine, Chili, Bolivie, Surinam, Amazone, Amazonie, Patagonie, Pernambouc, baie de Tous les Saints, Basse-Californie.

    When the Americas were "discovered" and named by the Europeans, the fashion to "translate" geographical names was over.

    By the way, you may be interested in the following list of USA toponyms of French origin : Liste des toponymes d'origine française aux États-Unis — Wikipédia
    «Μεξικό» [me̞k͡s̠iˈko̞] (neut. declin.), «Γουατεμάλα» [ɣua̯te̞ˈmala] (fem. decl.), «Βενεζουέλα» [ve̞ne̞z̠uˈe̞la] (fem. declin.), «Κολομβία» [ko̞lo̞mˈvi.a] (fem. declin.), «Περού» [pe̞ˈɾu] (neut. indecl.), «Βραζιλία» [vraz̠iˈli.a] (fem. decl.), its capital is «Μπραζίλια» [braˈz̠ili.a] (fem. indecl.) :rolleyes:, «Αργεντινή» [arʝe̞ndiˈni] (fem. declin.), its capital is «Μπουένος Άιρες» [buˈe̞no̞s̠ ˈaɪɾe̞s̠] (neut. sinɡ. indecl.), «Χιλή» [çiˈli] (fem. declin.), its capital is «Σαντιάγο» [s̠antiˈaɣo̞] (neut. indecl.), and not the translation «Άγιος Ιάκωβος» [ˈaʝi.o̞s̠ iˈako̞vo̞s̠], «Βολιβία» [vo̞liˈvi.a] (fem. declin.), «Σουρινάμ» [suɾiˈnam] (neut. indecl.), (river) «Αμαζόνιος» [amaˈz̠o̞ni.o̞s̠] (masc. decl.), (reɡion) «Aμαζονία» [amaz̠o̞ˈni.a] (fem. declin.), «Παταγονία» [pataɣo̞ˈni.a] (fem. declin.), «Κόλπος των Αγίων Πάντων» [ˈko̞lpo̞s̠ ˌto̞naˈʝi.o̞n ˈpando̞n] (Baía de Todos-os-Santos), «Κάτω Καλιφόρνια» [ˈkato̞ kaliˈforni.a] (Baja California), «Ουρουγουάη» [uɾuɣuˈaɪ] (fem. decl.), the Uruɡuayan capital is «Μοντεβιδέο» [ˌmonte̞viˈðe̞.o̞] (neut. indecl.), while the Paraɡuayan one is «Ασουνσιόν» [as̠uns̠ˈço̞n] (fem. indecl.), used in Spanish and not translated to «Ανάληψη» [aˈnalip͡s̠i] (fem.) --> Assumption, and the country is «Παραγουάη» [paɾaɣuˈaɪ] (fem. decl.).
     

    symposium

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    I was just watching a 1969 Italian rendition a T.S. Eliot's play, probably based on an older translation, where all the characters' first names were translated into Italian, as it was traditionally costumary. Eg., we have a Edoardo Chamberlain. Just saying, all the characters in the Italian version of "Gone with the Wind" are given Italian first names, eg. "Rossella O'Hara". When I was younger I used to think that in Antebellum South they had some kind of Anglo-Saxon enamourament with Italy and they all gave their children Italian names... Also, anime where huge in 80's and 90's Italy, and most anime characters were given Italian first names, though thay would keep their Japanese last names, so you would have a Sabrina Yoshimoto, a Renato Hibushitsu and what not. As a child, all I surmised was that Italian first names were very popular in Japan, too...
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    Lijst van Belgische plaatsen in twee talen - Wikipedia

    In Belgium, most cities, villages, street names, rivers, provinces and municipalities have two or three names. (Dutch, French, German)

    plaatsen in Wallonië met een Nederlandse naam

    Flemish state television VRT uses the Dutch names of Walloon places for the provinces, rivers and bigger cities, but the French names for less widely known places. Walloon places with facilities for Dutch speakers are also said in Dutch. For instance, I live close to Grez-Doiceau and nobody uses the Dutch name anymore. We do still say Bevekom instead of Beauvechain, but VRT says Beauvechain because it is too small. Places in Ostbelgien with facilities for French speakers get the German name if no Dutch name exists.

    The link above mentions in bold which name is used for which city on VRT. I think other news outlets use the same convention. (VRT Dutch is seen as "proper Dutch")

    RTBF always uses the French name, as a big part of its audience wouldn't understand anything else, and many journalists can't pronounce Dutch. It would simply be impractical.

    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).
    ? There are many German words with intervocalic z, for instance Polizei.

    Pfizer looks extremely German.
    There are no French exonyms for South America. I wonder why they escaped it. No Bonaire, Caraques, Saint Paul, or Saint Jacques du Chili, Saint Joseph de la Côte Riche.
    They "escaped" it because these place names are less old.
     
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    nizzebro

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Королева Елизавета I Английская (Королева - Дева)
    (she is just my favorite historical personage, sorry)
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    ? There are many German words with intervocalic z, for instance Polizei.

    Pfizer looks extremely German.

    Polizei is a loanword (stressed on the last syllable), Pfizer at least in theory is not.
    The problem with "Pfizer" is: it looks like it is spoken with a short i. Those words, as far as I can remember, usually have "tz", e. g. Spitzel, Flitzer, stibitzen.
     

    Nanon

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    :p There are no French exonyms for South America. I wonder why they escaped it. No Bonaire, Caraques, Saint Paul, or Saint Jacques du Chili, Saint Joseph de la Côte Riche.
    Not exactly: Santiago du Chili may be considered a hybrid (dated, though).
    But you may consider [bɥɛnɔzɛʁ], erm... an exopronunciation. Insisting on the Spanish pronunciation when speaking in French would sound pedantic. As to Bonaire, it is just an island that forms part of the Netherlands :) (and whose name does not come from French according to Bonaire's History)
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    Swedish, Finnish
    I'm pretty sure the same "Budapesht" people keep saying Lisbon, Prague, Vienna or Copenhagen in English, not Lisboa, Praha, Wien or København.
    In Swedish the names of the last two cities are the same as in their own languages (well, just a difference in spelling), Lissabon, Prag, Wien and Köpenhamn. When I lived in Göteborg, I was always unsure if I was to say/write Göteborg or Gothenburg when speaking/writing in English.

    It was even more confusing to speak with Swedes about places in Finland, should I use the Finnish names I'm used to, or the Swedish names most Swedes are familiar with, and what about place names in bilingual areas? Both Finnish and Swedish are official languages in Finland, and many places have two official names.
    Helsinki/Helsingfors; Turku/Åbo; Tampere/Tammerfors; Mikkeli/S:t Michel; Oulu/Uleåborg; Borgå/Porvoo; Hangö/Hanko; Jakobstad/Pietarsaari; Lovisa/Loviisa
     
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    gato radioso

    Senior Member
    spanish-spain
    Yes, Budapest is a strange case. I think that one of the reasons for the phenomenon is that the spelling of the English and Hungarian versions is the same.

    I'm pretty sure the same "Budapesht" people keep saying Lisbon, Prague, Vienna or Copenhagen in English, not Lisboa, Praha, Wien or København.

    Well, to be accurate, you should pronunce Lisboa with the same "sh" sound of Budapest.
    That´s the way the Portuguese pronunce an "s" when at the end of a syllable.
    I think these things might be important for some people. When I first went to Budapest, the taxi driver that picked me up at the airport -he spoke some English- insisted in that: not Budapest, but Budapesht, like Shtuttgart. :)
     
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