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Old 10-01-11, 02:59 PM   #1
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Why Do We "Translate" Foreign Names into English ?

For instance, Torino Italy is Turin here, Napoli is Naples, Brasil is Brazil.

Why don't we just call Torino Torino ? Why did someone decide that the native name should be changed ? I can understand that some languages have sounds that are hard or impossible for native English speakers to make, so modifying a word makes sense, but most European names don't cause any problem.
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Old 10-01-11, 03:17 PM   #2
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Guessing here.
Florence, Naples, and the like are quite old cities. When the printing press came about the Anglicized versions of the names were used in English printings and they became that standard spelling in English.
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Old 10-01-11, 06:46 PM   #3
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What I can contribute is that Spanish speaking cultures do it to: Nueva York, Carolina Del Norte, Nuevo Mexico. Others can be written exactly the same but are pronounced totally different.

My guess is that in earlier days, people didn't have the same respect for names as we do today and though of them as just another foreign word that needed to be translated.
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Old 10-01-11, 06:55 PM   #4
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Blame the old British Empire and other former colonial powers. Some of HRH's civil servants changed the names of city and countrys because it was the way to bring lesser peoples into the modern age. Either that or they the locals were misprounouncing the name of the place the grew up in.
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Old 10-01-11, 07:25 PM   #5
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I've wondered that also. Allen's olde maps theory sounds like a good one. My wall map was made in Switzerland so it has more "international" names for countries.

Norge, Sverige, Suomi, Polska.

The Italian cities are there in Italian too - Milano, Roma, Napoli.

Some of the old Eastern Bloc spellings are interesting: Rominia, Balgarija

Turkey is Turkiye and Greece is Ellas.

China is Chung Kuo (with China in parentheses)

I should get a new world map, this one still has the USSR on it
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Old 10-01-11, 09:25 PM   #6
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Some foreign names are hard for English speaking people to pronounce like Firenze (Florance) . But I can't figure why you would want to change the spelling of cities like Roma or Milano.
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Old 10-02-11, 12:29 AM   #7
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Yeah, like Ruben says it's not just English-speakers who do this. Think of Londres for London (in French and Spanish). And Chinese is all over the place: some places are translated phonetically (In Mandarin you say Manhadun for Manhattan), some are translated literally (Niujin for Oxford, which literally means "ox-ford"), some are historical names that have stuck: Jiu Jin Shan, or "Old Golden Mountain" for San Francisco.

The most confusing for me to decode in conversation are Chinese names of Japanese places, since they read the characters with Chinese pronunciations. Tokyo becomes Dongjing, Osaka is Daban, Kyoto is Jingdu.

A lot of English place names in Asia came from attempts to write down approximations of what the locals called the places, as filtered through the ears of sometimes linguistically challenged Europeans. Hong Kong is fairly close to the local Cantonese pronunciation Heung Gong (though it's Xiang Gang in Mandarin). Some names were based on what other outsiders called them: I had thought that Japan came from European mishearing of the Cantonese pronunciation of 日本 (yat-bun), but the Wu Chinese (Shanghainese) pronunciation (something like "zep-pen") is even closer.

Here's an interesting Wikipedia article on the topic.
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Old 10-02-11, 01:29 AM   #8
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The subway in Hong Kong is good fun - all the stations are announced in three languages (English, Cantonese, Mandarin) so you can compare them all easily.
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Old 10-02-11, 06:05 AM   #9
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A local phenomenon that drives me crazy: mispronouncing names of places, like "Buena Vista" pronounced as "Byoona Vista" or "Florida" pronounced as "Floor-eye-duh".
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Old 10-02-11, 06:14 AM   #10
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A local phenomenon that drives me crazy: mispronouncing names of places, like "Buena Vista" pronounced as "Byoona Vista" or "Florida" pronounced as "Floor-eye-duh".
Roger that Ward Bye Car
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Old 10-02-11, 08:25 AM   #11
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A local phenomenon that drives me crazy: mispronouncing names of places, like "Buena Vista" pronounced as "Byoona Vista" or "Florida" pronounced as "Floor-eye-duh".
What? Coloradans like to pronounce Florida like that? Weird.

Gets done to Spanish names all the time (SF, LA, Rio Grande, etc.), but I can't figure why anyone would say Florida like that unless they're just being funny.

Kinda reminds me of a little town near here called Felida. The accepted pronunciation is Fell-eye-duh.
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Old 10-02-11, 09:41 AM   #12
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Is Arkansas pronounced "are-can-saws" or "are-can-sauce" or "are-can-sass"?
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Old 10-02-11, 09:59 AM   #13
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^^ Must be from Colorado
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Old 10-02-11, 10:37 AM   #14
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Is Arkansas pronounced "are-can-saws" or "are-can-sauce" or "are-can-sass"?
LOL. None of the above.... Ark in saw, or Whoo Pig Sooie.

But we've got some great cities like El Dor ay dough and Ne vay da.
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Old 10-02-11, 12:13 PM   #15
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Y'all would love what we come up with for Ponce de Leon in Georgia.
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Old 10-02-11, 12:29 PM   #16
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Dontcha usually skip the "de Leon" part and just say Pawntz?
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Old 10-02-11, 12:35 PM   #17
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A local phenomenon that drives me crazy: mispronouncing names of places, like "Buena Vista" pronounced as "Byoona Vista" or "Florida" pronounced as "Floor-eye-duh".
Like pronouncing Colorado, Cawlorado
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Old 10-02-11, 02:33 PM   #18
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Dontcha usually skip the "de Leon" part and just say Pawntz?
If you want to say the whole thing the de Leon part is pronounced duh lee-ON.
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Old 10-02-11, 02:36 PM   #19
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As to the OP, it is evident from this thread that no one in the world can speak correctly. It ain't just English.
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Old 10-02-11, 05:01 PM   #20
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What? Coloradans like to pronounce Florida like that? Weird.

Gets done to Spanish names all the time (SF, LA, Rio Grande, etc.), but I can't figure why anyone would say Florida like that unless they're just being funny.

Kinda reminds me of a little town near here called Felida. The accepted pronunciation is Fell-eye-duh.
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The highway climbs up steeply onto Florida Mesa, where the road cuts are in the Animas Formation. On the east side of this mesa, the Florida River flows south on its way to join the Animas near Bondad. Note that the Florida River was named by Domínguez and Escalante in 1776, and the proper pronunciation is still "flor-EE-da," although the gender has been changed from the original "Florido."
Even worse.

http://www.fourcornerssw.com/durango_to_aztek.html
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Old 10-02-11, 05:35 PM   #21
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Kinda reminds me of a little town near here called Felida. The accepted pronunciation is Fell-eye-duh.
I grew up on Milan Ave. That was pronounced MY-lan.
Down in Portland there's a Couch St. It's pronounced Kooch.

My father (who speaks something like 7 languages) is fond of pointing out there is no "C" sound in Japanese, and they've adapted English pronunciations for some common items. "C" ("see") comes out as "sh", thus "City Bus Station" comes out as "S***ty Boos Stay-shun"... and it's probably the cleanest place in town.
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Old 10-02-11, 06:02 PM   #22
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I saw one show on OPB with a Couch decendent who claimed it was actually pronounced just like the furniture.

Another Oregon favorite is Owyhee - an old bastardized spelling of Hawai'i.

Egads! I was just watching the news and they pulled a guy out of the river in Buena Vista, OR. News guy pronounced it Byoona Vista. I figured after the BV Social Club movie everyone would've started saying it the right way. Oh well.

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Old 10-03-11, 01:08 PM   #23
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I notice there has not been any mention of the Prudenchell Plazer in Baastin Mass
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Old 10-03-11, 01:34 PM   #24
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I saw one show on OPB with a Couch decendent who claimed it was actually pronounced just like the furniture.

Another Oregon favorite is Owyhee - an old bastardized spelling of Hawai'i.

Egads! I was just watching the news and they pulled a guy out of the river in Buena Vista, OR. News guy pronounced it Byoona Vista. I figured after the BV Social Club movie everyone would've started saying it the right way. Oh well.
What about Aloha, Oregon, which I have heard pronounced "uh-LOH-uh" and not "ah-LO-hah".

Actually, good ol' Wikipedia clears this one up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloha,_Or

And then there's Oceano, CA near where I used to live in college... Sure, it's a spanish word, but NO ONE pronounces it that way: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oceano,_CA

But don't get me started about all the people who pronounce "San Jose" "san-uh-zay"... no, just no.
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Old 10-03-11, 05:06 PM   #25
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I notice there has not been any mention of the Prudenchell Plazer in Baastin Mass
No one has said anything about Lon Geyeland, NY either.
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