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Normalizing of names

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Apr 3, 2012, 11:37pm Top

Right now, at Early Reviewers, there's a book called Puppet about a blood libel case. It ends with "In Hungary today, the name Morris Scharf has become synonymous with “traitor.”" That's completely false. Perhaps the name Móric Scharf (or even more correct, Scharf Móric) has become synonymous with traitor, but Hungarians have never heard of Morris Scharf. Yes, I'm frustrated because I wasted a lot of time looking for a Morris Scharf and all I came up with was material about the book, leading me at first to question whether there was any historical basis for it. I do think that's a legitimate beef; historical fiction, especially for young adults, shouldn't put barriers in the way of people who want to look up the real history.

But also my complaint is why on Earth is it considered a value to hide the fact that there are people on Earth that don't use English names? I've read books where the names get in the way, but Moric Scharf is not a name that is going to give an English speaker fits.

I find the changing of Tisza-Eszlár to Tisza Eszvar to be frustrating, but confusing also. It doesn't deal with the confusing (for English speakers) sz. Maybe it was just a mistake.

Apr 4, 2012, 12:55am Top

Even if the Hungarians use a Last First, when used in English, the name is rendered as First Last. Names order is usually following the language you are writing into when just mentioned in a text unless if there is a reason to keep the order... So at least the order of the names is correct...

Does not explain why Moric was changed to Morris though... Slavic names have thousands of transliterations but these kick in only if there is an alphabet change... Although I would not be surprised if they tried for closer phonetical spelling - not that it is a good idea but sounds like the only explanation).

Apr 4, 2012, 5:16am Top

Moric does translate into Morris, or Maurice; however, it still begs the question of why translate an undifficult name. It led me to think about the selective translation of place names. We use Florence for Firenze, but leave Bologna alone- Cologne for Koln, but leave Frankfurt alone, etc.

Apr 4, 2012, 8:38am Top

I used to be a purist and insist on using Köln, München, Bare-lean, etc. Then I found myself living in 's-Gravenhage.

Apr 4, 2012, 10:03am Top

It is difficult being pure in an impure world. Two years ago we went to Tuscany with another family. When we landed in Florence, the other family's wife asked why we were going to Firenze, when we were supposed to go to Florence. Then there are the heavy metal bands who place umlauts above improbable letters in their names.

Apr 4, 2012, 10:36am Top

Not that long ago, first names were frequently, even routinely translated along with everything else. Maybe less so in Anglo tradition, I'm not sure, but it's common in older books in Italian, German, French, Russian etc. The audience was more important than the "fact" of the name.

It's definitely an antiquated habit. Although, some individuals used different forms of their names if they lived or travelled between countries, so referring to one or the other wouldn't necessarily be always wrong.

Apr 4, 2012, 10:58am Top

Of course it isn't just the English speakers that do this. For example Londres / Londra.

Some of the 'translations' seem difficult to understand why people chose them. Why did Marseilles and Lyons get that useless final S? Some exonyms do die out - I've not seen or heard Leghorn used except in old books.

As for Cologne it is probably due to using French as the language of diplomacy. The French called Köln - Cologne, München - Munich, and Hamburg - Hambourg (the English took out the o, and incidentally turned it back into the German name).

Apr 4, 2012, 11:53am Top

Ah, but the Leghorn chicken stays true to its heritage.

Edited: Apr 4, 2012, 1:10pm Top

>6 LolaWalser:
It's not just Mercator and Hugo Grotius - I've met a lot of people over the years who introduce themselves by different versions of their (given) names in different languages. They seem to feel that life's too short to spend it explaining how your name is supposed to be pronounced. This is especially common with Europeans who've spent some time working in the US, for some reason, but people with names of African and Asian origin seem to do it a lot too.

Apr 4, 2012, 4:44pm Top

I've frequently encountered Chinese speakers that have adopted Anglo first names, not sure if it is for ease on interaction with westerners or some other reason. The names they have chosen have often been charming. A couple that spring to mind were "Golden" and "Weally" (oh, weally?)

Apr 4, 2012, 4:50pm Top

A lot of Slavic people are using anglicized names as well -- even professionally.

I am using Annie for personal reasons and from a lot longer than I speak English but the spelling of it in English was influenced by how English people will spell it (in direct transliteration from Bulgarian it would have been Ani).

Apr 4, 2012, 5:05pm Top

There are names better off not anglicized. Imagine picking up a woman in a bar as Cabeza de Vaca; now imagine saying : hi, I'm Head of a Cow, what's your name?

Apr 4, 2012, 6:02pm Top

Anglicized and translated are two different things in a lot of cases.

Apr 5, 2012, 1:20am Top

>3 nemoman:&7

A lot more German placenames used to be anglicised (or possibly um, Frenchified. Is there a proper word for that?). Frankfurt was Frankfort for example, Ratisbon for Regensburg, Brunswick for Braunschweig. It can make reading old history books interesting...

Apr 5, 2012, 2:07am Top

>14 Scorbet:
Even in older German books, you sometimes have to cope with the effects of spelling reforms: e.g. Köln was officially Cöln for a while (not to be confused with Cölln, which is in Berlin...)

Apr 5, 2012, 3:07am Top

In scholarly books from or about Japan, and also in a lot of Japanese novels, that are translated into English, the translator usually notes at the outset that he or she is using Japanese name order (family name first). I've seen the same thing in books from or about China. In translations from Russian and Chinese I've seen translators note that they are using conventional romanizations even though these romanizations are not, strictly speaking phonetically accurate. All of this seems a reasonable solution to me (if the publisher will allow them an extra page to explain what they are doing and lay out their rationale).

On another tangent, it's interesting that in countries like the USA and Canada with a lot of immigrants, it can be tricky to know how to pronounce people's names. Some Italian immigrants, for example, preserve the proper Italian pronunciations of their names. Others will anglicize their names. You can't really know which it is until you've heard them identify themselves.

Apr 5, 2012, 10:40am Top

I just had to laugh. Be careful not to carry this -back to the original name- movement too far.

When you push to replace Jesus in all the Bibles with Yeshua, the Pope and all the right wing Christians and all the left wing Christians are going to come down on you big time. LOL

My own family name was a Viking name which the French changed. Then it got Americanized and the Census takers spelled it about six different ways.

BTW- Did you know that the English Royal Family doesn't have a last name. They got rid of Saxe-Cobur, their German house name, and changed that to Windsor. Thus, The Duke of Wndsor.

In the Coast Guard Prince William goes by Lt. William Wales. That sounds like a very nice name.

Apr 5, 2012, 4:22pm Top

Sounds like a character in a Stan Lee comic.

Apr 5, 2012, 5:01pm Top

>17 omboy: - Did you know that the English Royal Family doesn't have a last name.

Now I thought our Queen's last name was “Windsor”. One of her predecessors (King George V) changed the family name in 1917, before that time the family had the very German name of “Saxe-Coburg-Gotha” and this name wasn’t liked as at the time we were at war with that country!. Our Queen confirmed the name Windsor on her succession in 1952. Later, in 1960, she and her husband announced that her direct descendants (which includes Prince William) should have the name "Mountbatten-Windsor" (Prince Phillip's name is Mountbatten).

Prince William is known as Lt William Wales because in fact his full title was (until 2011) His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales. – (His title is now His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge)

However it is true that the Royal Family does not normally use a surname for everyday purposes.

See: http://www.royal.gov.uk/ThecurrentRoyalFamily/TheRoyalFamilyname/Overview.aspx

By the way, the title "Duke of Windsor" given to the ex-King Edward was a completely separate matter.

Edited: Apr 5, 2012, 5:38pm Top

>19 BobH1:
Funny, really: a millennium and a half ago the Germans were calling the British "Welsh", and now it's the other way round.

It's strange that the descendants of Prince Louis of Battenberg changed their name, whilst that rather chemical-tasting pink-and-yellow cake that lurks in British tea-shops was never anglicised.

Apr 5, 2012, 10:03pm Top

#4: Heh. But part of my complaint was communication. The Hague is going to be clearer to English readers then 's-Gravenhage is, but the only people who have ever heard of Morris Scharf are readers of Puppet; everyone else, even in English, calls him Moric (or Móric) Scharf.

Apr 6, 2012, 4:15am Top

>21 prosfilaes:
Yes, your example looks like a pretty clear case of judging it wrongly.

Apr 6, 2012, 6:13am Top


You go to the wrong tea shops - a good battenberg cake is a delight. A bad one can be a little disappointing.

Apr 6, 2012, 1:04pm Top

if not downright dangerous. I was mugged by a bad battenberg cake once.

Apr 7, 2012, 6:44am Top

Mmmm - battenberg cake. Wish I'd read this thread before my husband went out foraging ...

Apr 8, 2012, 2:20am Top

Just as well. He probably wasn't mentally and physically prepared for the rigours and risks in hunting the formidible battenberg cake.

Apr 8, 2012, 4:26am Top

Beware the battenberg, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch . . . .

Dec 23, 2013, 2:32pm Top

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