What’s In A Name?

I have been curious about names and languages for a while now.

My name is still my name no matter where I am or what language we are conversing in. If I were conversing with a Chinese person in Mandarin my name would still be ‘Richard’ and their name would be… Whatever their name is, and I would use the name they gave me.

Also, cities generally get called their actual names too. Manchester is still Manchester in Spanish, Portuguese and Russian. But here is the kicker… “Spanish”, “Portuguese” and “Russian” are NOT their native names! Spanish should really be Español or possibly  Castellano, Potuguese should be Português and Russian should be “ру́сский язы́к” or Russkij Jazyk in our native alphabet. There are some cities that don’t get to keep their native names though. Moscow, as we commonly know it, is actually ‘Moskva‘.

Why do we do this? Why, or possibly how do we pick and choose what names we use when talking about places when our actual names would NOT be ‘translated’ in the same fashion? Yes, there may be local derivations (John/ Juan for instance) But that does not mean that you can use your version of my name… because THAT isn’t my name!

All of this abstract musing started may years ago watching the Olympics at school when I was youngish.. About 8 or so? I watched a Romanian girl doing gymnastics, but on her back was “CCCP” and everyone referred to her being in the Russian team… Or ‘the team from the USSR‘. No wonder I was confused!
My teacher at the time didn’t even bother trying to sort it all out for me, she just shushed me away to possibly go annoy someone else with my query or go look it up myself. Epic teaching skills, no? >.>

 

 

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