R(h)eims; Marseille(s); Lyon(s)

English translation: As in French

13:42 Apr 27, 2005
French to English translations [PRO]
Linguistics / place names
French term or phrase: R(h)eims; Marseille(s); Lyon(s)
What is the current fashion on whether or not to translate French place names into English where there is a so-called official English (UK) translation?
Hands up for Marseille?
Or Lyons?
Googling shows no clear trend.....
Your preferences?
CMJ_Trans (X)
Local time: 00:28
English translation:As in French
Explanation:
I think it's very old-fashioned to put Marseilles, Lyons etc. and I can see no good reason for it. When I still lived in the Alps one person even ended up getting confused and sending me mail to Grenobles!

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 12 mins (2005-04-27 13:54:51 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Don\'t forget to pronounce Reims Reems!

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr 26 mins (2005-04-27 15:09:21 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

BBC News | World | Thousands protest over unemployment in France
... association. Some pushed empty shopping carts to symbolize their poverty. Other
rallies were held in Marseille, Toulouse and Reims. The ...
news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/newsid_47000/47083.stm - 29k - Supplemental Result - Cached - Similar pages



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr 27 mins (2005-04-27 15:10:01 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Guardian Unlimited Football | Champions League | Roll of honour
... 1956 REAL MADRID 4 - 3 Reims 1957 REAL MADRID 2 - 0 Fiorentina ... 1991 RED
STAR BELGRADE 0 - 0 Marseille (aet, Red Star won 5 - 3 on penalties) ...
football.guardian.co.uk/Champions_League/ Story/0,5764,92125,00.html - 29k - Cached - Similar pages

The Observer | Sport | The United Nations of France
... Born: 29/1/1973 Reims, France Origin: Father Portuguese, mother Spanish Club:
Arsenal ... Born: 23/6/1972 Marseille, France Origin: Parents from Algeria ...
observer.guardian.co.uk/ osm/story/0,6903,1182869,00.html - 34k - Cached - Similar pages



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr 28 mins (2005-04-27 15:10:46 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Telegraph | Travel | J\'aime La France: Sponsored feature on ...
... Clermont-Ferrand, Dinard, Montpellier, Nimes, Pau, Perpignan, Reims, Rodez, St ... It
also flies from Gatwick to Bordeaux, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Toulon ...
www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/main.jhtml?xml=/ travel/Supplements/France/etfrance22.xml - 35k - Supplemental Result - Cached - Similar pages

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr 28 mins (2005-04-27 15:11:23 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

The Independent Online Edition > Travel
... Marseille, France\'s second largest town, is a key point in the race, ...
48 hours in Reims. The little French town with a lesson for us all ...
travel.independent.co.uk/ europe/western/story.jsp?story=401295 - 37k - Cached - Similar pages

Selected response from:

mckinnc
Local time: 00:28
Grading comment
hard to choose but.....
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
5 +3As in French
mckinnc
5 +2Leave the original
Lillian van den Broeck
4 +3stick to the French!
lizziec
4 +3Rheims / Marseilles / Lyons
Estelle Demontrond-Box
5 +1the original
Conor McAuley
3 +3Reims, Marseille, Lyon
Graham Reynolds
3 +3here's my opinion
Kate Hudson
3 +3leave as is
French Foodie
4 +1EU style guide say
Charlie Bavington (X)
4The reason behind it all
Bourth (X)
4Reims; Marseille(s); Lyon(s)
Finn Skovgaard (X)


Discussion entries: 11





  

Answers


2 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +3
here's my opinion


Explanation:
For what it's worth I generally translate French/German or other place names into their commonly known names in English (how many English people know Koln is the real name of Cologne?)

Kate Hudson
Netherlands
Local time: 00:28
Native speaker of: English

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Cristina Giannetti: same in Italian - Roma becomes Rome - Venezia becomes Venice but Lucca remains the same
2 mins
  -> Thanks

agree  HelenG: I agree that where there is an accepted English translation of anything in the OED, it should be written with the English spelling
7 mins
  -> Thanks

agree  gad: you make a good point!
17 mins
  -> Thanks

agree  writeaway: and those of us in Belgium sometimes have to drive through Bergen, Rijsel and Parijs or Straatsburg to get there. :-)
38 mins

disagree  df49f (X): no non and nein! keep our cities' names the way they are!// no! but if I ever needed to, I could find out - and I wouldn't spell it "Grhèfenages" anyway! :-)
2 hrs
  -> ok so do you know where 'S Gravenhage is?
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

3 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +2
Leave the original


Explanation:
,

Lillian van den Broeck
Mexico
Works in field
Native speaker of: Spanish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Conor McAuley: Yes, where it commonly used - obvious exceptions being Genova, Moskva etc
42 mins
  -> thanks Conor

agree  df49f (X): yes ABSOLUTELy!! agree also with Conor about "except for excpetions"
2 hrs
  -> Thanks Df49f
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

4 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
Rheims / Marseilles / Lyons


Explanation:
Since there is an English tanslation, I would rather go for those. But both seem to be fine.

Estelle Demontrond-Box
Australia
Local time: 08:28
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: French
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Cristina Giannetti
0 min
  -> Thanks Cristina!

agree  Tony M: OED agrees with you, and so do I! I'm a bit less sure about Rheims, but definitely for Lyons; we wouldn't think of dropping the 's' of Limoges, now would we?
11 mins
  -> Thanks Dusty!

agree  gad: It's not like I would leave "Londres" in a document translated into English (for example)
14 mins
  -> Thanks Gad!

agree  Graham macLachlan
31 mins
  -> Thank you Mactrad!

disagree  Conor McAuley: It's a matter of taste, but using the "translation" is dreadfully "Daily Telegraph" imho
39 mins
  -> Well, you will still find these in school books...

neutral  mckinnc: Maybe in schoolbooks from the 1930s. I prefer to base myself on current practice. See how these town are spelt in UK newspapers, by the BBC etc.
1 hr

agree  Jane Griffiths: FT Style Guide: 'Lyons is a city in France; we retain the s.' 'Rheims is a city in France; this spelling is preferred to Reims.'
1 hr
  -> Thanks Jane!

disagree  df49f (X): agree with Coinor - Reims is Reims, and Lyon is not the Lyons Club, Marseille is Marseille ... pourquoi pas Massalia ou Lions or Rains, ou Nouvelle Iorque pendant qu'on y est!!
2 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

7 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
stick to the French!


Explanation:
Could depend on target reader / nature of document I suppose, but lately (over the last year) I have been advised to stick to the French. It's thought to be the more 'modern' trend? It's still perfectly clear which places you are referring to - not like say Firenze / Florence.

lizziec
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:28
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Conor McAuley
39 mins

agree  df49f (X)
2 hrs

agree  jeromec: there's something wrong with MarseilleS and LyonS, it's even worse with RHeims
5 days
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

18 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +3
leave as is


Explanation:
I think the main thing is of course to be consistent throughout the document.
That said, the French name is what my clients seem to prefer lately for the abovementioned cities. I don't think Marseille, Reims and Lyon are in the same ballpark as, say, Firenze/Florence, where keeping the original name could lead to confusion. Many English speakers probaby don't even realize there is an official English translation for Marseille and Lyon (!)
The same trend occured in Canada years ago. In my mother's day, Trois-Rivieres was always referred to as Three Rivers in the English press, which is of course unheard of now.
I tend to see the "official" translation of these 3 French cities as somewhat of a dying breed.
Just my opinion :-)

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr 4 mins (2005-04-27 14:46:32 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Here is something interesting I just found in my Oxford\'s Guide to Writers and Editors:

Marseilles
in Fr. (and increasingly in Eng.) Marseille

Lyons
in Fr. Lyon

Reims
perfer to Rheims (trad. Eng. spelling) but adj. Rhemish



So Rheims is passé, Marseille is gaining ground and Lyons is still a go. Basically, Oxford is acknowledging that a change in language use is taking place. That said, I still think that by choosing one way or another and sticking with it, you can\'t go wrong.

French Foodie
Local time: 00:28
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Conor McAuley: Valid comments
28 mins

agree  df49f (X)
2 hrs

agree  translatol: Yes, there's a trend to revert from the traditional English names to the native ones, and not only for France. Majorca or Mallorca? Yet many are SO traditional that they are unaffected: Genoa, Vienna, Cairo, the Canaries, Cardiff, the Vatican, etc.
2 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

11 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +3
As in French


Explanation:
I think it's very old-fashioned to put Marseilles, Lyons etc. and I can see no good reason for it. When I still lived in the Alps one person even ended up getting confused and sending me mail to Grenobles!

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 12 mins (2005-04-27 13:54:51 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Don\'t forget to pronounce Reims Reems!

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr 26 mins (2005-04-27 15:09:21 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

BBC News | World | Thousands protest over unemployment in France
... association. Some pushed empty shopping carts to symbolize their poverty. Other
rallies were held in Marseille, Toulouse and Reims. The ...
news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/newsid_47000/47083.stm - 29k - Supplemental Result - Cached - Similar pages



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr 27 mins (2005-04-27 15:10:01 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Guardian Unlimited Football | Champions League | Roll of honour
... 1956 REAL MADRID 4 - 3 Reims 1957 REAL MADRID 2 - 0 Fiorentina ... 1991 RED
STAR BELGRADE 0 - 0 Marseille (aet, Red Star won 5 - 3 on penalties) ...
football.guardian.co.uk/Champions_League/ Story/0,5764,92125,00.html - 29k - Cached - Similar pages

The Observer | Sport | The United Nations of France
... Born: 29/1/1973 Reims, France Origin: Father Portuguese, mother Spanish Club:
Arsenal ... Born: 23/6/1972 Marseille, France Origin: Parents from Algeria ...
observer.guardian.co.uk/ osm/story/0,6903,1182869,00.html - 34k - Cached - Similar pages



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr 28 mins (2005-04-27 15:10:46 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Telegraph | Travel | J\'aime La France: Sponsored feature on ...
... Clermont-Ferrand, Dinard, Montpellier, Nimes, Pau, Perpignan, Reims, Rodez, St ... It
also flies from Gatwick to Bordeaux, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Toulon ...
www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/main.jhtml?xml=/ travel/Supplements/France/etfrance22.xml - 35k - Supplemental Result - Cached - Similar pages

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr 28 mins (2005-04-27 15:11:23 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

The Independent Online Edition > Travel
... Marseille, France\'s second largest town, is a key point in the race, ...
48 hours in Reims. The little French town with a lesson for us all ...
travel.independent.co.uk/ europe/western/story.jsp?story=401295 - 37k - Cached - Similar pages



mckinnc
Local time: 00:28
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
hard to choose but.....

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Conor McAuley: Old-fashioned, yes
35 mins

agree  Bourth (X): Tell the French THEY are old-fashioned, what with NanteS, OrléanS, RenneS, TourS, Le ManS, AngerS, PoitierS, BourgeS, ThouarS, MamerS, AmienS, LouvierS, ManteS, BézierS etc. And I'm wondering about BayeuX, EvreuX, ChâteaurouX, etc.
1 hr

agree  df49f (X): we French intend to keep our useless "s", "x", "h" etc, but certainly won't have anybody stick any "S's" or "H's" where they don't belong!! :-))
2 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +3
Reims, Marseille, Lyon


Explanation:
As others, I would tend to go for the English term, where this exists and is used "frequently". But here is another point, the crux, usage CHANGES with time: (Ask the Academie Francaise). Today I would go for Florence and not Firenze, but Leghorn for me is definitely out, let's use Livorno, but in a document of a couple of centuries ago, when Britannia ruled the waves, Leghorn and nothing else. It's also a question of time context.

Graham Reynolds
Italy
Local time: 00:28
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  mckinnc: and Ushant for Ouessant while we're on the subject!
1 hr

agree  df49f (X)
2 hrs

agree  French Foodie: agree wholeheartedly - usage changes with time
2 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

57 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
the original


Explanation:
is the modern acceted usage.

UK schoolbooks must be old-fashioned.

Example from the Guardian:

http://216.239.59.104/search?q=cache:TGy5CYOq_iwJ:www.guardi...

And the Indo:

http://www.independent.co.uk/search/search.jsp?keywords=mars...

And even from the Times:

Run to the sun: three ways to cruise through France 10 Apr 2005

Now take the A1 towards Paris (avoid being whisked off to ***Reims***) and, as hunger pangs kick in, come off at exit 13.1 to Péronne. Initially, you will think you’re being sent for lunch to the industrial French equivalent of Burnley.

French fraud squad in raid on agents
By Richard Bright
(Filed: 10/03/2005)

Telegraph (need to log in first):

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml;sessionid=LWDJII...

Fraud squad detectives carried out a series of raids at the homes of prominent football agents in France yesterday as part of investigations into transfers involving Paris St Germain and ***Marseille***.

NYT:

http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?query=lyon&date_select...

Very conclusive, and bear in mind that these newspapers have very precise style guides (and very fascinating for linguists) for this kind of thing.

I rest my case. The campaign starts tomorrow.


--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr 2 mins (2005-04-27 14:45:23 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

The Googlebattle is very conclusive too:

Reims - 2,940,000:
http://www.google.fr/search?hl=fr&q=reims&meta=
Rheims - 397,000:
http://www.google.fr/search?hl=fr&q=rheims&meta=

Lyon - 25,200,000:
http://www.google.fr/search?hl=fr&q=lyon&meta=
Lyons - 5,340,000:
http://www.google.fr/search?hl=fr&q=lyons&meta=

Marseille - 13,900,000:
http://www.google.fr/search?hl=fr&q=marseille&meta=

Marseilles - 942,000:
http://www.google.fr/search?hl=fr&q=marseilles&meta=

OK, these include hits in French, but I think the stats are undeniable - and English is the language of the interweb.




--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr 33 mins (2005-04-27 15:16:21 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I think what it comes down to is that your average English-speaker (in Europe anyway) is more familiar with these places now.

Interesting point from Alex (Bourth).

My profound apologies to the Telgraph, that paragon of progress and tolerance. ;-)

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr 38 mins (2005-04-27 15:21:25 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

The Washington Post also uses \"Lyon\".

Guardian Style Guide:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/styleguide/page/0,5817,184829,00.h...
Marseille
not Marseilles

http://www.guardian.co.uk/styleguide/page/0,5817,184843,00.h...
Lyon
not Lyons

(Rheims seems to be off their radar!)

Another point: if it is your agenda to portray these cities as \"foreign\" (for whatever reason), then I guess you use the \"translated\" spelling.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr 44 mins (2005-04-27 15:27:15 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

And as Colin has outlined, the Beeb uses Reims. Can\'t get much more authoritative than that.

http://search.cnn.com/pages/search.jsp?query=lyon

CNN too.




Conor McAuley
France
Local time: 00:28
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  mckinnc: BTW, you can limit a google search to UK sites only by doing for example reims site:uk
2 hrs
  -> Thanks, I was already aware of that but it didn't cross my mind in this instance
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
EU style guide say


Explanation:
"General: Many place names have an anglicised form but as people become more familiar with the names in the language of the country concerned, so foreign spellings will gain wider currency in English. As a rule of thumb, therefore, use the native form for place names except where an anglicised form is overwhelmingly common."
There's then a big old list of what to use, to help resolve uncertainty, in which it says:

"France: write Lyon, Marseille, Strasbourg"

From which we can deduce that it would recommend Reims, as the local spelling.

I highly recommend the EU style guide, BTW. Seems to talk a lot of sense, which is something of a miracle for an EU publication :-)



Charlie Bavington (X)
Local time: 23:28
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Conor McAuley: Key point: "so foreign spellings will gain wider currency in English." (But the UK will never get the wider European currency?) Funny, I was just wondering what the EU had to say on the issue. Got a link for the EU Style Guide?
22 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

444 days   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Reims; Marseille(s); Lyon(s)


Explanation:
This discussion is already passée, but anyway, no one seemed to mention the problem for writers and translators writing text for websites. Site owners want as many targeted persons to find their sites as possible. Hence, if one uses only "Marseille", those Daily Telegraph readers searching for a taxi in "Marseilles" will not find the site (until the point where search engines become intelligent enough to know they're the same, but the writer doesn't know that). The translator cannot on his own implement search engine optimisation, but the client might want to be aware. There may be a trade-off between readability and SEO, but the translator should at least be aware of SEO when writing for websites, as site owners will usually be much more focused on SEO than academic linguistic issues.

Finn Skovgaard (X)
Local time: 00:28
Native speaker of: Native in DanishDanish
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
The reason behind it all


Explanation:
As I understand it, the reason for so many place names ending in S is that they go back to Old French when singular nouns took a final S which they dropped in the plural, contrary to the definite articles.
Thus, in Old French one said something like "la maisons" for "la maison" and "les maison" for "les maisons".

Now placenames are hard to change, and Lyon(s) and Marseille(s) are the exceptions that prove the rule. Had other towns whose names end in S achieved quite the size etc. as these two, I fully expect some bright spark in the passage of history would have decided the S had to go on them instead of Lyon and Marseille. As it is, ALL(?) the other towns which, like Lyons and Marseilles, had a final S a thousand or so years ago still have it today! English, having less concern for the social, political, economic, and cultural weight of Lyons and Marseilles, has (until recently) simply perpetuated what has always been.

And to be tit for tat about it, there is no more reason for us to adopt the French spellings than there is for them to give up LondreS, DouvreS, Edimbourg, Cantorbéry, and such like.

A few names the French have not seen fit to dock the S from: NanteS, OrléanS, RenneS, TourS, Le ManS, GisorS, ProvinS, AngerS, PoitierS, BourgeS, ThouarS, MamerS, AmienS, CanneS, NîmeS, ArleS, LouvierS, ManteS, BézierS, Versailles, AntibeS, etc. There must be literally thousands of them, compared to a handful that might have lost an S at some point (but Lyons and Marseilles are the only ones I can attest to).

And I'm wondering about BayeuX, EvreuX, ChâteaurouX, BordeauX etc.

For the Royalists amongst us, let us be plus royalist que le roi and keep the esses. Vive le ... Esse!

That said, I have adopted the aitchless Reims, but as a boy I always saw it in English with the H. Same for Ghent.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 845 days (2007-08-20 18:16:24 GMT) Post-grading
--------------------------------------------------

For the disbelievers:

<<So much for the motivated exceptions. Now for the real exceptions. The Russian zero-marked genitive plural is one; ANOTHER IS OLD FRENCH AND OLD PROVENCAL, IN WHICH THE NOMINATIVE SINGULAR ENDS IN -S and the plural in zero [no ending]. However, this anomalous situation corrected itself by the modern versions of the latter languages, and is in the process of doing so for some Slavic languages other than Russian>>
http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9304d&L=li...

And our old mate Grevisse says:
<<Des six cas u latin, l'ancien français de garda que le cas sujet, tiré du nominatif, et le cas régime, tiré de l'accusatif.
Les cinq déclinaisons classiques de nom se trouvèrent réduites à trois, uniformisées au XIIe siècle, selon la déclinaison suivante :
CAS SUJET CAS REGIME
Sing.: li murs (lat. murus) le mur (lat. murum)
Plur.: li mur (lat. muri) les murs (lat. muros)
Au XIIIe siècle, la form du nominatif commença à disparaître ; au XIVe siècle, l'accusatif resta comme cas unique :
Sing. le mur Plur. : les murs >>
[Maurice Grevisse, Le bon usage - Grammaire française, 9ème édition (1969)]


Bourth (X)
Local time: 00:28
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 44
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)



Login or register (free and only takes a few minutes) to participate in this question.

You will also have access to many other tools and opportunities designed for those who have language-related jobs (or are passionate about them). Participation is free and the site has a strict confidentiality policy.

KudoZ™ translation help

The KudoZ network provides a framework for translators and others to assist each other with translations or explanations of terms and short phrases.


See also:

Your current localization setting

English

Select a language

Term search
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search