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NurseCarmen
07-24-2010, 12:55 AM
Not just that, why is meh-hee-co Mexico? Why the fuck didn't english map makers of old just spell the places like they were pronounced? Did they think all of the poor saps in Munchen were pronouncing the name of their city wrong? There are so many cities around the world that could be easily spelled out phonetically in English, but instead some bastard chose to slaughter the pronunciation and spread that disinformation to the unknowing masses.

Indistinguishable
07-24-2010, 01:10 AM
Er, it's not a decision the map makers made. The map makers put on their maps what their countrymen were already using as names.

Why do people sometimes have names for foreign countries which are different from what those foreign countries call themselves? Well, for the same reasons people have different languages to begin with. Language is weird, it's all caught up in the contingencies of history, and it has no particular tendency to standardize across long distances. We keep right on calling Germany "Germany" rather than "Deutschland" and calling India "India" rather than "Bharat", because that's what we're used to calling them and we have no particular impetus to change towards their native names. And what's wrong with that? Our linguistic traditions needn't be the same as theirs, even as regards their names.

Throatwarbler Mangrove
07-24-2010, 01:12 AM
Not just that, why is meh-hee-co Mexico? Why the fuck didn't english map makers of old just spell the places like they were pronounced? Did they think all of the poor saps in Munchen were pronouncing the name of their city wrong? There are so many cities around the world that could be easily spelled out phonetically in English, but instead some bastard chose to slaughter the pronunciation and spread that disinformation to the unknowing masses.

You literally don't understand the concept of foreign languages?

njtt
07-24-2010, 01:28 AM
You literally don't understand the concept of foreign languages?

You're a fine one to talk, Mr Yacht!

x-ray vision
07-24-2010, 01:35 AM
Some rationales are given here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exonym_and_endonym).

antonio107
07-24-2010, 01:39 AM
We keep right on calling Germany "Germany" rather than "Deutschland"

That has as much to do with the fact that Germany is an extremely young country in the grand scope of things, than anything else. That, and the disparate fiefdoms and principalities and tribes that were all present before Germany came into being.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_Germany

I always thought that was a neat read!

Indistinguishable
07-24-2010, 01:45 AM
Yeah; I'm just saying, no one feels an urge to switch the name to match the endonym more closely. The same phenomenon presents itself with divergent but cognate names as well (as in the OP's examples); once the details of the renderings began to drift apart in distant speech communities, there was no strong force to cause them to converge again, so off they went on their differing evolutionary paths.

The phenomenon hardly being limited to geographic names, of course. We say "French" instead of "Français" for the name of the language and so on.

antonio107
07-24-2010, 01:57 AM
Yeah; I'm just saying, no one feels an urge to switch the name to match the endonym more closely. The same phenomenon presents itself with divergent but cognate names as well (as in the OP's examples); once the details of the renderings began to drift apart in distant speech communities, there was no strong force to cause them to converge again, so off they went on their differing evolutionary paths.

The phenomenon hardly being limited to geographic names, of course. We say "French" instead of "Français" for the name of the language and so on.

There are some examples where we see P.C. name changes. Madras and Bombay come to mind.

Indistinguishable
07-24-2010, 02:07 AM
True. Also, Calcutta. It does sometimes happen (although I'm not sure to what extent those "official" name changes have penetrated general public consciousness among those not particularly acquainted with India). But in those particular cases, it was specifically as a result of a concerted push by the local governments to have English speakers make those name changes. This, of course, has not been pushed for by either Mexico or Munich.

Ximenean
07-24-2010, 06:04 AM
Not just that, why is meh-hee-co Mexico? Why the fuck didn't english map makers of old just spell the places like they were pronounced? Did they think all of the poor saps in Munchen were pronouncing the name of their city wrong? There are so many cities around the world that could be easily spelled out phonetically in English, but instead some bastard chose to slaughter the pronunciation and spread that disinformation to the unknowing masses.
The citizens of München should perhaps be flattered that we give the city an Anglicised name, because as x-ray vision's link says that tends to happen for places that have had some long-standing significance to us. Augsburg, just down the road, is still Augsburg to those few Brits who've heard of it.

Also, some foreign names obviously include sounds that can be difficult for English speakers. In the case of "München" there's a ʏ and a ç, although "Munshen" or "Munchen" (first vowel same as that in "book") are probably close enough.

NurseCarmen
07-24-2010, 10:36 AM
Some rationales are given here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exonym_and_endonym).Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks.

NurseCarmen
07-24-2010, 10:37 AM
You literally don't understand the concept of foreign languages?You don't seem to understand the question. I was asking why we don't use the foreign pronunciations.

Throatwarbler Mangrove
07-24-2010, 11:26 AM
You literally don't understand the concept of foreign languages?You don't seem to understand the question. I was asking why we don't use the foreign pronunciations.

Because you speak English, which to a German would be known as a "foreign language". In English we call it Munich. We could call it Hamburg if we want, what's it to them? That's what happens with a "foreign language" - there are different words for the same shit. So that's why it's Munich not Munchen, because it's English, not German, they are different languages.

BwanaBob
07-24-2010, 11:41 AM
An interesting thought experiment.

An island in the Pacific decides that it has nothing in common with the other islands and peoples there and wants to go independent. The mother country agrees.

They have their own language and use the Roman alphabet but has one pronunciation twists. In their language a "D" is represents what we in the US would use "TH". All else is the same. The name of this new nation in their spelling is ODIRINA. This is a new name just made up and voted on by their people. There is no history to this name.

To our ears it is clearly pronounced "OTHIRINA".

What do the cartographers do in English speaking countries?

By all rights, we should call and spell the name of this new nation OTHIRINA. There's no justifiable reason to introduce the pronunciation ODIRINA, just because it looks like that to us. In other words, the pronunciation ought to outweigh the apparent spelling. The pronunciation they use is not foreign to English. The phonemes are identical.

What do you think would actually happen

Terminus Est
07-24-2010, 11:51 AM
That city we call Munich is in Bavaria. In Bavarian (yes, it's a language) the city is called Minga, so those poor saps in Munich who call it München are still pronouncing it wrong. Why did those stupid Germans chose to slaughter the pronunciation and spread that disinformation to the unknowing masses?

Colibri
07-24-2010, 12:32 PM
Not just that, why is meh-hee-co Mexico? Why the fuck didn't english map makers of old just spell the places like they were pronounced?

Well they don't spell it as it's pronounced today (in modern Spanish) in Mexico either. The "x" represents the spelling in medieval Spanish for a sound that later changed somewhat and became represented by "j". (Actually, the situation is a bit more complex than that; I'm simplifying a bit here.) So the alternative spelling of Mejico also exists in Spanish (although according to the Real Academia Espanola, "Mexico" is preferred).

In English, the name is pronounced according to the way it is traditionally spelled in Spanish, but according to English rules of pronunciation. This does not correspond to either the traditional or present pronunciation in Spanish.

Chefguy
07-24-2010, 01:44 PM
Er, it's not a decision the map makers made. The map makers put on their maps what their countrymen were already using as names.

Why do people sometimes have names for foreign countries which are different from what those foreign countries call themselves? Well, for the same reasons people have different languages to begin with. Language is weird, it's all caught up in the contingencies of history, and it has no particular tendency to standardize across long distances. We keep right on calling Germany "Germany" rather than "Deutschland" and calling India "India" rather than "Bharat", because that's what we're used to calling them and we have no particular impetus to change towards their native names. And what's wrong with that? Our linguistic traditions needn't be the same as theirs, even as regards their names.

I'm not sure anybody says "Deutschland" except the Germanic language countries. The French call it "Allemagne", or sometimes just "those fuckers" for short. When I lived in Europe, it was a challenge to fly anywhere at first, as I didn't know the German names for many of the cities, such as Wien (Vienna), Praha (Prague), Munchen, etc. The first time I looked at the flight schedule board in Frankfurt to see if my plane was departing on schedule for Vienna, I had a mild panic attack.

Ximenean
07-24-2010, 02:32 PM
An interesting thought experiment.

An island in the Pacific decides that it has nothing in common with the other islands and peoples there and wants to go independent. The mother country agrees.

They have their own language and use the Roman alphabet but has one pronunciation twists. In their language a "D" is represents what we in the US would use "TH". All else is the same. The name of this new nation in their spelling is ODIRINA. This is a new name just made up and voted on by their people. There is no history to this name.

To our ears it is clearly pronounced "OTHIRINA".

What do the cartographers do in English speaking countries?

By all rights, we should call and spell the name of this new nation OTHIRINA. There's no justifiable reason to introduce the pronunciation ODIRINA, just because it looks like that to us. In other words, the pronunciation ought to outweigh the apparent spelling. The pronunciation they use is not foreign to English. The phonemes are identical.

What do you think would actually happen
I think it would be the same as the OP's example of Mexico - we would spell it their way and pronounce it our way. It's not difficult for an English speaker to approximate the way "Mexico" is pronounced in Spanish, but nevertheless we don't do it.

AnalogSignal
07-24-2010, 03:48 PM
This thread reminded me of Chaplin's movie the "The Great Dictator." Austria in German is Österreich. In Chaplin's film, he refers to the country as Ostrich. He also refers to Vienna as Vanilla (which is inconsistent because he is spoofing the English name). So in the film's dialogue, there are a few quick references to Vanilla, Ostrich which are kind of funny if you notice them.

AnalogSignal
07-24-2010, 04:44 PM
Sorry,after doing some Googling, I think Chaplin referred to Austria as Osterlich not Ostrich. (Although I did get a few hits on Ostrich.)

BwanaBob
07-24-2010, 05:27 PM
An interesting thought experiment.

An island in the Pacific decides that it has nothing in common with the other islands and peoples there and wants to go independent. The mother country agrees.

They have their own language and use the Roman alphabet but has one pronunciation twists. In their language a "D" is represents what we in the US would use "TH". All else is the same. The name of this new nation in their spelling is ODIRINA. This is a new name just made up and voted on by their people. There is no history to this name.

To our ears it is clearly pronounced "OTHIRINA".

What do the cartographers do in English speaking countries?

By all rights, we should call and spell the name of this new nation OTHIRINA. There's no justifiable reason to introduce the pronunciation ODIRINA, just because it looks like that to us. In other words, the pronunciation ought to outweigh the apparent spelling. The pronunciation they use is not foreign to English. The phonemes are identical.

What do you think would actually happen
I think it would be the same as the OP's example of Mexico - we would spell it their way and pronounce it our way. It's not difficult for an English speaker to approximate the way "Mexico" is pronounced in Spanish, but nevertheless we don't do it.


I submit that such behavior makes no sense. A new nation name is invented and the name is readily pronouncible in English. Why give a rats ass on how the native's spell it, why not just adjust the spelling to reflect English norms?

Ximenean
07-24-2010, 06:12 PM
A new nation name is invented and the name is readily pronouncible in English. Why give a rats ass on how the native's spell it, why not just adjust the spelling to reflect English norms?
Because it's insulting? Especially coming from somebody who can't spell or use apostrophes correctly in their own language.

Colibri
07-24-2010, 06:21 PM
Especially coming from somebody who can't spell or use apostrophes correctly in their own language.

[Moderating]

Although you seem to have somehow avoided Gaudere's Rule, I don't think we need this kind of snark here.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

Colibri
07-24-2010, 06:34 PM
I submit that such behavior makes no sense. A new nation name is invented and the name is readily pronouncible in English. Why give a rats ass on how the native's spell it, why not just adjust the spelling to reflect English norms?

Possibly because English does not traditionally make adjustments to orthography to make it conform to pronunciation. Of course, the spelling of many native English words is wildly divergent from how they are pronounced today. English speakers are accustomed to spelling not reflecting pronunciation.

One example is Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa. The name is pronounced Pango Pango; Samoan orthography uses "g" to signify the sound "ng". Despite belonging to an English-speaking country for over a century, the spelling has not been changed to reflect the pronunciation. The same goes for places in Fiji like Nadi (pronounced Nandi), Sigatoka (pronounced Singatoka), and Beqa (pronounced Mbengga).

Spanish, on the other hand, has an orthography that strictly follows pronunciation. In Spanish, the spelling of foreign place names is almost always adjusted to reflect their pronunciation.

carnivorousplant
07-24-2010, 06:42 PM
Austria in German is Österreich.

That example came to mind when I first began reading the thread. How the heck do you mispronounce "Osterreich" as "Austria"?



For that matter, how do you make an umlaut, however you spell it?

Chimera
07-24-2010, 07:02 PM
[That example came to mind when I first began reading the thread. How the heck do you mispronounce "Osterreich" as "Austria"?

Probably has something to do with those damned Koala bears.

Throw anudder shrimp on das barbie, mein heron!

Captain Amazing
07-24-2010, 07:14 PM
Austria in German is Österreich.

That example came to mind when I first began reading the thread. How the heck do you mispronounce "Osterreich" as "Austria"?



For that matter, how do you make an umlaut, however you spell it?

Latin. The answer in cases like that is usually Latin.

carnivorousplant
07-24-2010, 07:15 PM
[
Latin. The answer in cases like that is usually Latin.

Beats Koala bears, and makes sense. :)

BwanaBob
07-24-2010, 08:08 PM
How the hell is it insulting to want to write a word so that it sounds the same way a native would say it, especially if it is readily pronounced in our tongue? If anything, spellings are really a contrivance used to map phonemes to our particular alphabet set. This is why I said who cares how a nation spells its name in its own language. Your Pago Pago example is exactly what I'm talking about. We see what looks like English letters (but this is mere coincidence) spelling Pago Pago but we hear Pango Pango. Suppose the Samoans had a symbol for the "ng" sound instead of using a "g". I'd bet we'd have decided to spell the city as Pango Pango. It's only laziness to decide not to bother adjusting oue spelling because "they're using our letters".

Švejk
07-24-2010, 10:44 PM
When I lived in Europe, it was a challenge to fly anywhere at first, as I didn't know the German names for many of the cities, such as Wien (Vienna), Praha (Prague), Munchen, etc.

Praha is the Czech name for the Czech capital, Prague. The Germans say Prag.

Chefguy
07-24-2010, 11:50 PM
When I lived in Europe, it was a challenge to fly anywhere at first, as I didn't know the German names for many of the cities, such as Wien (Vienna), Praha (Prague), Munchen, etc.

Praha is the Czech name for the Czech capital, Prague. The Germans say Prag.

See, I told you I was confused. Also, Moscow was Moskva, which is a sort of approximation of the Russian spelling.

dtilque
07-25-2010, 04:27 AM
One example is Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa. The name is pronounced Pango Pango; Samoan orthography uses "g" to signify the sound "ng".

Somewhere I read that the use of a G to represent the NG-sound in Samoan was due to a local newspaper in the early days of it being a US possession. This was in the days of movable type and it seems this newspaper had a shortage of N's in their type case. So the newspaper printed the name of the town (and perhaps other names with NG's) without N's. This may be an apocryphal story, though.


Another example of this kind of thing from the Pacific is the name Kiribati. The main island group in this country is the Gilberts. Kiribati is the transliteration of the name "Gilberts" in Gilbertese. The "ti" in Gilbertese is actually pronounced /s/, for reasons I've never fathomed.

One of the islands in Kiribati is Kiritimati, formerly Christmas Island. If you apply the TI = S rule, you'll see that the pronunciation of Kiritimati is actually quite close to that of Christmas.

Siam Sam
07-25-2010, 04:38 AM
This thread reminded me of Chaplin's movie the "The Great Dictator." Austria in German is Österreich. In Chaplin's film, he refers to the country as Ostrich. He also refers to Vienna as Vanilla (which is inconsistent because he is spoofing the English name). So in the film's dialogue, there are a few quick references to Vanilla, Ostrich which are kind of funny if you notice them.

Sorry,after doing some Googling, I think Chaplin referred to Austria as Osterlich not Ostrich. (Although I did get a few hits on Ostrich.)

That was the little guy in the WWI series of The Black Adder. He called it an Ostrich and really thought it was one. :D

But geez, how many threads do we need asking why doesn't everyone use the native version of every single locality on Earth? They seem to be legion these days. I guarantee you don't want to wrap your tongues around some of the actual Thai place names, never mind Cambodian.

Colibri
07-25-2010, 11:30 AM
Somewhere I read that the use of a G to represent the NG-sound in Samoan was due to a local newspaper in the early days of it being a US possession. This was in the days of movable type and it seems this newspaper had a shortage of N's in their type case. So the newspaper printed the name of the town (and perhaps other names with NG's) without N's. This may be an apocryphal story, though.


I'm sure that's apocryphal. Samoan orthography was developed by missionaries in the 1860s for the purpose of printing the bible in the native language. This kind of orthography is also used in other Polynesian languages such as Fijian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fijian_language), which I mentioned above. Polynesian has fewer sounds than many other languages; Samoan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samoan_language) uses only 15 letters, and Fijian uses only 23 letters. In Fijian, since it lacks the sounds represented by b, d, g, and q as stand-alone letters, these letters have been pressed into service to represent the phonemes mb, nd, ng, and ngg. As in Fijian, Samoan uses the "n" to represent the "ng" sound.

Monty
07-25-2010, 12:12 PM
Different languages have different rules for how sounds can go together, what sounds can begin or end syllables or words, and what sounds are considered speech sounds. English, for example, does not permit the NG sound to begin a word; however, that sound does begin more than a few common words in the Vietnamese language. In the case mentioned in the OP, the German pronunciation isn't really hard for an English speaker to make even without practice. A simple change in the English spelling is probably all that it would've taken way back when. Now, if you want to talk about Köln (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cologne), that's a different story.

Colibri
07-25-2010, 12:33 PM
The ng sound also can be used to begin words in other languages, including Polynesian (such as the first name of writer Ngaio Marsh, from the Maori name of a New Zealand tree), and Ngöbe, an indigenous group in Panama.

Siam Sam
07-25-2010, 12:50 PM
The ng sound also can be used to begin words in other languages, including Polynesian (such as the first name of writer Ngaio Marsh, from the Maori name of a New Zealand tree), and Ngöbe, an indigenous group in Panama.

Also in Thai, Lao, Cambodian and Vietnamese.

BigT
07-25-2010, 01:05 PM
I'd assume we don't change it because the written form for centuries was the only form people would know about form a distance.

Also, Osterreich isn't that dissimilar form Austria. Ost = aust makes perfect sense. err getis inverted (as often happens with unaccented syllables with r in them), The vowels all get more close and lose their diphthongs, and the ch gets dropped as a sound that doesn't exist in English (or Latin, as the case my be.)

Yeah, it sounds like a lot, but really, I can make them sound pretty similar. Then again, I can show the Great Vowel Shift.

Colibri
07-25-2010, 01:40 PM
As in Fijian, Samoan uses the "n" to represent the "ng" sound.

That should be the "g" to represent the "ng" sound.

Monty
07-25-2010, 01:45 PM
Also in Thai, Lao, Cambodian and Vietnamese.

Wish I'd've mentioned Vietnamese in my post above. Oh, wait... :D

hibernicus
07-25-2010, 01:54 PM
But geez, how many threads do we need asking why doesn't everyone use the native version of every single locality on Earth? They seem to be legion these days. I guarantee you don't want to wrap your tongues around some of the actual Thai place names, never mind Cambodian.

Fair enough, but I think Munich is an interesting case, and I was disappointed to find on opening the thread that it was not specifically about Munich, but about exonyms in general.

The term "exonym" refers to local names for foreign places, and there is no general answer to the general question of why they exist. The answer in a specific case is often interesting, however.

In the case of "Munich", we have an English version that looks like a German word, and moreover is not pronounced according to English spelling norms, but more like an English approximation of how it would be pronounced if it were a German word.

The French (from whom we presumably borrowed the word) use the same spelling "Munich" but with French pronunciation.

Siam Sam
07-25-2010, 10:14 PM
Also in Thai, Lao, Cambodian and Vietnamese.

Wish I'd've mentioned Vietnamese in my post above. Oh, wait... :D

Yeah, well, ya missed Thai, Lao and Cambodian, nyah! :p

CookingWithGas
07-26-2010, 07:32 AM
Here is a reference to past threads plus a link to Cecil's column on the topic (http://seiglefamily.com/gqfaq.html#names).

anson2995
07-26-2010, 10:22 AM
There are some examples where we see P.C. name changes. Madras and Bombay come to mind.

But that's a different issue, since the locals changed the names themselves. Same thing applies to lots of places, like Constantinople, Leningrad, and Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania.

Ispolkom
07-26-2010, 10:33 AM
But geez, how many threads do we need asking why doesn't everyone use the native version of every single locality on Earth? They seem to be legion these days. I guarantee you don't want to wrap your tongues around some of the actual Thai place names, never mind Cambodian.

Fair enough, but I think Munich is an interesting case, and I was disappointed to find on opening the thread that it was not specifically about Munich, but about exonyms in general.

The term "exonym" refers to local names for foreign places, and there is no general answer to the general question of why they exist. The answer in a specific case is often interesting, however.

In the case of "Munich", we have an English version that looks like a German word, and moreover is not pronounced according to English spelling norms, but more like an English approximation of how it would be pronounced if it were a German word.

The French (from whom we presumably borrowed the word) use the same spelling "Munich" but with French pronunciation.

The Italians, on the other hand, give Munich a perfectly reasonable sounding name: Monaco. That freaked my brother out when he was trying to find the train from Milan to Munich.

Colibri
07-26-2010, 12:03 PM
Possibly because English does not traditionally make adjustments to orthography to make it conform to pronunciation. Of course, the spelling of many native English words is wildly divergent from how they are pronounced today. English speakers are accustomed to spelling not reflecting pronunciation.

As a follow-up to this, English often doesn't even spell English place names the way they sound: Norwich, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, and many other places have divergent pronunciations from their spellings.

sqweels
07-26-2010, 12:42 PM
Of course, it's the French who pronounce "Paris" incorrectly. ;)

Siam Sam
07-30-2010, 10:57 AM
Posted this in the "New York, New York" thread in answer to a query, but it seems tailor made for this thread:

Bangkok is listed in Guinness World Records, I believe, for longest place name:

Krung Thep Maha Nakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udom Ratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanu Kamprasit

which means:

"The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukam."

They just call it Krung Thep -- City of Angels -- for short. "Bangkok" comes from bang kok, or "Place of olive trees." It may have been the name of an old fishing settlement in the area prior to the capital being moved here after the last sacking of the Siamese capital of Ayutthaya by the Burmese. Only foreigners call it Bangkok, but the Thais all know the name. However, how'd you like to HAVE to call it all that? :D

constanze
07-30-2010, 12:45 PM
The Italians, on the other hand, give Munich a perfectly reasonable sounding name: Monaco. That freaked my brother out when he was trying to find the train from Milan to Munich.

You have to pay attention to the accent in Italian!

Mónaco (stress on the first syllable) = Munich
Monacó (stress on the last syllable) = the small country with the formula 1 race.

constanze
07-30-2010, 12:51 PM
That city we call Munich is in Bavaria. In Bavarian (yes, it's a language) the city is called Minga, so those poor saps in Munich who call it München are still pronouncing it wrong. Why did those stupid Germans chose to slaughter the pronunciation and spread that disinformation to the unknowing masses?

I feel honoured that you consider Bavarian a language - but officially, the language of München and of Bavaria is still High German, and Bavarian is a dialect. Linguists are another matter. (But then, their standard answer is "A language is a dialect with an army and a navy. (http://zompist.com/lang9.html#12)" that is, the difference between dialect and language is political, not scientific).

So, Minga is a local dialect corruption of the German word München. Which in itself is a corruption of the older original word Munichen = at the monks, which was the description of the little village it started out as.

Frankly, as Münchner Kindl (Munich native - I have never heard the proper English word for somebody who lives in Munich) I am satisfied if your map makers conform to the International scientific standard, that is, writing foreign names in the local official language München and underneath in smaller script, the English name (Munich). Because that's what proper maps look like here.

Munch
07-30-2010, 04:08 PM
This thread is going to be hell on my vanity searches...

ShooterX
06-28-2013, 12:33 AM
...So, Minga is a local dialect corruption of the German word München. Which in itself is a corruption of the older original word Munichen = at the monks, which was the description of the little village it started out as....

It looks like constanze has told us the answer to the original question...why do we call Munchen Munich? If Munchen "...is a corruption of the older original word "Munichen"... then it appears obvious that the English spelling was developed back during the time this older original word was in use. i.e. "Munichen" minus the "en" became "Munich" in English. This would seem to make sense but I'll defer to those more knowledgeable.

tralfamidor
06-28-2013, 12:46 AM
The citizens of München should perhaps be flattered that we give the city an Anglicised name, because as x-ray vision's link says that tends to happen for places that have had some long-standing significance to us. Augsburg, just down the road, is still Augsburg to those few Brits who've heard of it.

Also, some foreign names obviously include sounds that can be difficult for English speakers. In the case of "München" there's a ʏ and a ç, although "Munshen" or "Munchen" (first vowel same as that in "book") are probably close enough.

Not only that, but the umlaut-u is hard for English speakers to handle (it's sort of like the "o" in "boo," not the "o" in "book," but kind of stifled). Additionally, the "m" leads directly into the umlaut-u, without the Anglicized "Myoon" in "Myoonick." English doesn't have many words that start with "mooh." (stifled "oo")

Tamerlane
06-28-2013, 01:11 AM
(But then, their standard answer is "A language is a dialect with an army and a navy. (http://zompist.com/lang9.html#12)"

Poor Bavaria never could get the second part right ;).

moriah
06-28-2013, 01:39 AM
While there is a history of divergent spellings and pronunciation of foreign places compared to their local spelling and pronunciation, modern English (well, at least American English) goes out of its way to get the best spelling and pronunciation of foreign places. Just look at all the different spellings of Al Qaeda to try to get it right. This is mostly the work of our foreign press pronouncing these places for us as soon as they become 'important' to us rather than reading about these places and pronouncing the approximate spelling incorrectly.

E.g., I would be pronouncing Qatar as 'Kah-TAHR' if it wasn't for hearing TV talking heads saying "CUH-ter".

Flywheel
06-28-2013, 10:17 PM
Armstrong and Miller's take. (http://youtube.com/watch?v=7GYPf0JFl1M)

WotNot
06-29-2013, 03:37 AM
Frankly, as Münchner Kindl (Munich native - I have never heard the proper English word for somebody who lives in Munich) …
Oh, that would be "somebody who lives in Munich".

Glad I could help.:D

Colibri
06-29-2013, 02:47 PM
(Munich native - I have never heard the proper English word for somebody who lives in Munich)

It should be "Munichkin." :)

Bob X
06-29-2013, 03:24 PM
Also, Osterreich isn't that dissimilar form Austria. Ost = aust makes perfect sense. err getis inverted (as often happens with unaccented syllables with r in them), The vowels all get more close and lose their diphthongs, and the ch gets dropped as a sound that doesn't exist in English (or Latin, as the case my be.)
It's a little simpler than that: "reich" means "country; realm; empire" so in Latin it was just replaced with the -ia suffix usually used for country-names; "oster" and "aust" are the German and Latin roots for "east".

BrotherCadfael
06-30-2013, 07:57 AM
A few years ago, NBC decided to make all references to the Olympic host city, "Turino", rather than the standard English, "Turin". It sounded affected then, and, generally, using the native name or pronunciation when spoken by an English speaker in English to English speakers sounds pretentious.

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