Renaming the cities of other countries ... (Just for info and for fun)

Just for info and for fun:

Have you noticed how many languages tend to “rename” cities in other countries? The trouble with this is that it can be really confusing and have some silly results.

1.Discovering that “Munich” was not some little town in Germany that had escaped my attention… But in fact the multi-million city that I knew very well as “München”!
2.An Englishman who said that “Gothenburg” was his favourite name ever for a city… Only the city is in fact called “Göteborg”! The name he liked was the English name…
3.Köln and Cologne are the same place! That took me a LONG time to figure out.
4.Why does English add “-in” on “Kreml”???
5.Copenhagen the city with a different name in practically every European language…! I guess it’s a case of “a well-loved child has many names”!
6.Warsaw - ditto, and I suspect that only speakers of other Slavic languages pronounce it even remotely correctly.
7.Moscow - ditto (but what’s the problem with saying “Moskva” closer to the original?
8.Cities that have changed names many times and are referred to differently in older material and by old people. Some in Northern Europe come to mind: Kaliningrad, Gdansk, Stettin…
9.Places that lots of people pass through, that have a name that only natives can pronounce: The Polish ferry port of Swinousjzce, aka Swinemünde! (Thanks DE!)
10.Finnish cities that have both a Finnish and a Swedish official name which are often COMPLETELY different. This can create confusion unless you know the name in both languages. I.e. Turku = Åbo etc.
11.Peking changed “name” in the West to “Beijing”… What was behind that?
12.Why did English drop the “o” in “Milano”?
13.Oslo, called by its’ real name in all languages?
Other Examples?

We couldn’t pronounce Kreml. It would become Kremmil. Kremlin sounds like Gremlin, ie a little bit sinister :wink:

Copenhagen in Finnish is “Kööpenhamina” and Stockholm in Finnish is “Tukholma”.

Finland in Finnish is “Suomi” but in all other languages it seems to have a Fin- beginning.

Montenegro is Crna Gora, and it is sounds like “Black Mountain” in Russian. But I heard that in reality it means “Deep forest”…

I suppose Montenegro probably means black mountain in Italian? How bout Belarus? In Finnish it’s Valko-Venäjä (White Russia).

Yes, it means “Black Mountain”, but originally it was “deep forest”, but Russians and other Slavic nations misinterpreted this name and it became “Black mountain”. Although I am not quite sure as I just heard this somewhere.

Croatia = Hrvatska
Belarus in Lithuanian - Gudija
Poland = Polska in Lithuanian - Lenkija
Russia in Latvian - Krievija
Germany = Deutschland in Lithuanian - Vokietija (land of people who are hard)
Sweden people in old Lithuanian - žuvėdai. That means people who eat a lot of fish :slight_smile:

If I were of the sensitive kind, I’d take it hard. But luckily enough I am of the land of people who are hard and who are mute (wonderful Russian description of the German language)!

Kalmyks (nationality lived in Russia) are originally Oirats from Mongolia. They were nomads, and migrated to place near Caucasus, then the majority returned to Mongolia and others remains on the Russian territory (at that times it was not Russian territory of course). And Turkic people (Bashkir, Tatar, Kazakh) named them “kalmak” which means “remained”. Bashkirs were the first nation who united with Russians voluntarily. At the Bashkir legend about Bashkortostan joining to Russia it was said that Kalmyks infringed upon Bashkirs’ land, and they were much more powerful, that’s why Bashkirs asked Ivan Grozny for protection. So, I suppose, my ancestors snitched on Kalmyks to Ivan Grozny something like, and that’s why Kalmyks are now Kalmyks :)) Btw, in Kalmykian they name their language, as well as their republic “Halmg” now.

Just reread my post… What I wanted to say by “something like” after “snitched on Kalmyks to Ivan Grozny”, I don’t know :)))

I have heard that in the past there were people who were without tongues and they have created English :stuck_out_tongue:
By the way Russians call Lithuanians “Labus”. That means “Hello”. In fact we say “Labas”, but Russians call us “Labus” :smiley:

@Rasana: on the other hand, there was a beautiful half-German, half-Bashkiri princess in the 1950s who married the Shah of Persia (okay, he divorced her later, but even so…)!


It is typically amongst people who have had long contact with each other than the names of cities and countries will be different in different languages. I would not call this renaming, just the natural process of naming a place in your own language.

Try Chinese and see what they do with foreign names.

Peking and Beijing, or Canton and Kwangdong, are the same words meaning Northern Capital. In many languages the original Peking has been maintained. It is just the politically correct anglo-saxons who have abandoned their own word for these places. For some reason Hong Kong is still Hong Kong.

In my view what people choose to name a place in their own language is their own business.

As to why the “o” was dropped in Milan, it appears that the English tended to follow the French terms for Italian cities, except in the case of Leghorn (Livorno) a town with which they had a lot of commerce. Note that the Germans call Milan Mailand.

There are two country’s with the same name in English.

Slovenia, capital Ljubljana
Slovenia (Slovakia), capital Bratislava

Do you mean with the same name in Lithuanian?

I am typing in a hurry and making mistakes. sorry

Beijing Peking = 北京 = north capital
Guangdong = 广东 = wide east
Hong Kong = 香港 = fragrant harbour written Xianggang in Pinyin and pronounced Sianggang in Mandarin

“I would not call this renaming, just the natural process of naming a place in your own language.”

I agree with you, steve. :slight_smile:

Sweden = isveç (Turkish)

Swiss = isveçre (Turkish) :slight_smile:

ç = ch

“Do you mean with the same name in Lithuanian?”

No, in Lithuanian “Slovėnija” and “Slovakija”.
Am I wrong about English? I just noticed in Bratislava that in English they write “Slovenia”.

Gintaras, I have no idea what the Slovaks call themselves but in any English reference I have seen the reference is to Slovakia. I remember from my old stamp collection that Czechoslovakia used to be Ceskoslovenski or something. Any Czechs or Slovaks out there?