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  #1  
Old 07 February 2008, 09:40 PM
Little Old Me
 
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Default Why is it Spain and not Espana?

I thought this might be the proper forum to ask this question --

Why do we translate country names? Why do they not remain the word that they are in their native language - or a close representation thereof when speaking of other alphabets?

Sorry, I know that this is probably a stupid question... but I still wonder all the same.
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  #2  
Old 07 February 2008, 09:44 PM
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That's always bugged me too. How on earth did we get "Germany" from a country that the natives refer to as "Deutschland"?
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  #3  
Old 07 February 2008, 09:49 PM
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Or "Hungary" from "Magyarorszagon?" Maybe it's because we can't say, "magyarorszagon."

I wonder, actually, if there is an older reference point for some of the names.
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  #4  
Old 07 February 2008, 09:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllavus View Post
That's always bugged me too. How on earth did we get "Germany" from a country that the natives refer to as "Deutschland"?
Germany comes from the Germanic tribes that used to live there. Or they could be called Teutons.
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  #5  
Old 07 February 2008, 10:03 PM
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Often, it is an anglicization of a mis-heard word which was the wrong word anyway. Take "China" for instance. Apparently, the English word "China" comes from the French word "Chine", which comes from the city of Xi'an (pronounced something like "shee-an"), which was at one time the capital of the country.
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Old 07 February 2008, 10:15 PM
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Someone told me the Chinese word for China simply translates to "Our Country"/"Homeland" or something like that. They didn;t tell me whether they were referring to Mandarin or Cantonese
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Old 07 February 2008, 10:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
Germany comes from the Germanic tribes that used to live there. Or they could be called Teutons.
I like Teutony. I think I'll call it that from now on.
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  #8  
Old 07 February 2008, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Mad Jay View Post
Someone told me the Chinese word for China simply translates to "Our Country"/"Homeland" or something like that. They didn;t tell me whether they were referring to Mandarin or Cantonese
"The Middle Kingdom", IIRC.
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  #9  
Old 07 February 2008, 10:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grendel View Post
Often, it is an anglicization of a mis-heard word which was the wrong word anyway. Take "China" for instance. Apparently, the English word "China" comes from the French word "Chine", which comes from the city of Xi'an (pronounced something like "shee-an"), which was at one time the capital of the country.
Ah I was wondering about China. I couldn't find any information about where that came from.
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  #10  
Old 07 February 2008, 10:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grendel View Post
"The Middle Kingdom", IIRC.
Ahh yes yes. I misremembered. That person was saying, it can also be translated to "center of the world" or "center of civilization"
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  #11  
Old 07 February 2008, 10:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Jay View Post
Someone told me the Chinese word for China simply translates to "Our Country"/"Homeland" or something like that. They didn;t tell me whether they were referring to Mandarin or Cantonese
I think a lot of countries' names translates as "us lot" or "our country". Names for other countries might include "them lot", "shifty sorts" and such like.
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  #12  
Old 07 February 2008, 10:23 PM
Grendel
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
I think a lot of countries' names translates as "us lot" or "our country". Names for other countries might include "them lot", "shifty sorts" and such like.
That certainly applies to a lot of aboriginal groups around here. For instance, "Inuit" (the word they use to describe themselves) means "people" or "the people", while "Eskimo" means "eater of raw meat" in another native language, and was considered a pejorative by the speakers of that other language.

Cite


ETA: Oops, my cite says it doesn't mean "eaters of raw meat"; it means "people who speak another language". It is, however, generally considered to be pejorative.
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  #13  
Old 07 February 2008, 10:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
Germany comes from the Germanic tribes that used to live there. Or they could be called Teutons.
But who was it who decided that those tribes were to be called "Germanic"? Is that what those historical tribes are referred to as in Germany/Deutschland?

Hmmm... what is China known as to people who are Chinese? I know that Japan is Nihon in Japanese.
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  #14  
Old 07 February 2008, 10:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllavus View Post
Hmmm... what is China known as to people who are Chinese? I know that Japan is Nihon in Japanese.
"Zhongguo" - meaning "Central nation" or "Middle Kingdom" as already stated. (There should be a flat intonation sign on the first O and a rising intonation on the second one, strictly.)

England in Chinese is "Yingguo", which literally means "Brave nation" but is named phonetically because it's close to the Chinese pronunciation of the word.
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  #15  
Old 07 February 2008, 11:06 PM
Ill Tempered and Cavalier Ill Tempered and Cavalier is offline
 
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I'm not an expert on this subject, but based on complete conjecture, I think the answer is "just because". It's entirely arbitrary, and mostly based on convention.

For instance, one thing I've noticed is that Italian place names seem derived from French. It's "Venice", not "Venenzia"; "Milan", not "Milano". I suspect this is a direct result of the Norman conquest.
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  #16  
Old 07 February 2008, 11:14 PM
Ill Tempered and Cavalier Ill Tempered and Cavalier is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllavus View Post
But who was it who decided that those tribes were to be called "Germanic"? Is that what those historical tribes are referred to as in Germany/Deutschland?
This Wiki article says that "Germania" was conceived by the Romans.

It cites Tacitus' book Germania:

Quote:
For the rest, they affirm Germania to be a recent word, lately bestowed. For those who first passed the Rhine and expulsed the Gauls, and are now named Tungrians, were then called Germani. And thus by degrees the name of a tribe prevailed, not that of the nation; so that by an appellation at first occasioned by fear and conquest, they afterwards chose to be distinguished, and assuming a name lately invented were universally called Germani
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  #17  
Old 07 February 2008, 11:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
Names for other countries might include "them lot", "shifty sorts" and such like.
"Welsh"...
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  #18  
Old 08 February 2008, 12:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ill Tempered and Cavalier View Post
I'm not an expert on this subject, but based on complete conjecture, I think the answer is "just because". It's entirely arbitrary, and mostly based on convention.

For instance, one thing I've noticed is that Italian place names seem derived from French. It's "Venice", not "Venenzia"; "Milan", not "Milano". I suspect this is a direct result of the Norman conquest.
The Norman conquest of Italy??

errr..

Ok...

Anywhoo, I know that a lot of the Germanic place and region names are from Roman origins, Germanicus for Germany, Vespasianus for Westfalia (sp?) etc etc.. and although the locally cited names have reverted or changed, the rest of the Empire (as was) still stem from the original (Roman) names..

That and the Buses on the Isle of Wight, that are still called Vectis!
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  #19  
Old 08 February 2008, 12:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
"Welsh"...
Button it "South Folk" boy, or we'll send in the Herons and Elephants to frighten you back into your huts again....

Hans "West Saxon & Proud of it!!" Off
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  #20  
Old 08 February 2008, 01:13 AM
Ill Tempered and Cavalier Ill Tempered and Cavalier is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hans Off View Post
The Norman conquest of Italy??
No, I was referring to the English translation of Italian place names.
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