List of geographical names - do I translate them?
Thread poster: Willemina Hagenauw

Willemina Hagenauw
Local time: 12:49
English to Dutch
+ ...
Jun 14, 2002

I am working on a translation which is really a list of words and there are a lot of geographical names in English, which have no good equivalent in Dutch. How do you deal with this? I tend to leave them alone, as the Dutch tend to use the English names anyway.


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Pere Ferrés Gurt  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
It all depends on common sense Jun 14, 2002

I have asked myself this same question many times, and I have decided to use common sense. I usually translate from English or French into Spanish, and I will give some examples of what I mean by \"common sense\"

Some places have a \"usual\" translation into Spanish; for instance, \"London\" is \"Londres\" , \"The English Channel\" is \"el Canal de la Mancha\", \"Cape Horn\" is \"el cabo de Hornos\"..., but many cities and places do not have a translation, and then I leave them in the original language. Specially if these names refer to valleys, rivers, hills that are not known all over the world, then I always use the \"local\" name.

I know that \"common sense\" is sometimes \"the least common of senses\" (as we say in Catalan and Spanish), but it helps me alot.

Good luck


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Carla Zwanenberg  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:49
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
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lijkt me van niet Jun 14, 2002

Het hangt er natuurlijk van af waar die lijst voor gebruikt gaat worden maar stel je voor dat je er als toerist mee op pad moet; die vertaalde plaatsnamen, meren en rivieren vind je op geen enkele kaart meer terug. Zelf gebruik ik meestal de Bosatlas als leidraad, wat ze daar niet vertalen, vertaal ik ook niet, en wat er niet in staat, vertaal ik al helemaal niet.



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Cecilia Vela Segovia-Frund, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:49
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
An article of EFE (Spanish News Agency) on Geographical Names Jun 14, 2002

I would suggest you to read the following article by EFE News Agency of Madrid: “Geographical Names: Tradition, Translation, Transcription”.

Unfortunately, it is written in Spanish.

In general, it says that foreign geographical names are to rendered in the Official Language of their countries (Source Language-SL), not in the Target Language (TL).

In this regard, you have three different problems to be solved by the translator (by common sense, I’ll add):

• Those names that have a traditional and deep-rooted use in TL, are to be kept in TL (Deutschland: Germany).

• Names that even having a traditional correspondence in TL are reproduced by Int’l press and tourism books/magazines in the SL rendering, sometimes because Governments of such countries request such rendering as an act of rejection of recent colonial times, present translation problems. (Burma: Myanmar)

• Names that have not a translation in TL and should be rendered adapting foreign graphemes, present transcription and transliteration problems (Japanese names).

I hope this short extract will help you. The original article has some juicy examples.


Cecilia Frund

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Marijke Mayer  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:49
Dutch to English
+ ...
Wijzer van geografische namen Aug 25, 2002

Wijzer van geografische namen

Jan van Groesen en Gerard Verhoeven

EUR 35,- (ISBN: 9012089239)

te bestellen via

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List of geographical names - do I translate them?

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