Re: Place names in foreign languages

From: Alain LaBonté  (
Date: Mon Oct 11 1999 - 11:55:54 EDT

À 08:03 1999-10-11 -0700, Doug Ewell a écrit :
>John Cowan wrote:
>> scripsit:
>>> In Italy people are proud when their cities (e.g. Roma=Rome,
>>> Milano=Milan, Torino=Turin) have traditional names in other
>>> languages, especially if they are smaller cities with a long history
>>> (e.g Mantova=Mantua, Siracusa=Syracuse). On the other hand, people
>>> are very disappointed to discover that their cities (e.g. Bologna,
>>> Bari, Cagliari, Monza) are called the same abroad, as if they "din't
>>> deserve an English name", like small province towns.

>> How about Livorno = English Leghorn?

>Residents of Livorno should be especially proud, since their city has
>not only an English name, but an exceptionally silly one at that.

[Alain] To place the debate on a less Euro-centric point of view, I am
particularly proud that my city and my state was given a Chinese name (by
phonetic proximity) that has a special meaning in Mandarin.

    Québec = Kui Bei Ke [the victor of the Great North]
    city of Québec = Kui Bei Ke Shi
                     [the city of the victor of the Great North]

Much can be said about this name... In Algonquian languages, it means
"where the waters narrow" [personal comment: the St.Lawrence River narrows
to 3 km wide only in front of the city (; ]...

A legend says that the French geographer Samuel de Champlain (the same who
invented the "loch" method, one of the first methods to determine
longitude), the founder of the city in 1608, when he arrived at this
strait, would also have said in old French: « Qué bec ! » (« Quel bec ! »,
in mordern French, which means: « What a beak! » -- the same meaning as the
Amerindian denomination, from another point of view).

Names bear a lot of humanity, indeed...

Alain LaBonté

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