Curiosities

Why some countries have their names translated?

Alemanha, Germany, Deutschland – all these names refer to the same country. The same happens to Holland – also called Netherlands or Nederland by the locals. Have you ever asked why the name of certain places changes so much from one language to another?

Many times, these changes occur through a translation in the original sense: Nederland, in Dutch means “low countries” or “low lands”; so, many languages (including Portuguese) refer to that country by this same meaning, although phonetically it is quite different in each language. The word “Holland” was disseminated later on because the two most important provinces of the Netherlands were Northern Holland and Southern Holland.

Another possibility for translations is the divergence on the origin of the names. For instance: in Portuguese, French and Spanish the word Alemanha comes from the Alemana tribe who lived in that region in the 3rd Century. Now the English language uses Germany, a name deriving from the way the Roman Empire called the region. The historical-political views of ancient speakers were a determinant element for each nomenclature.

The translations of names may also occur for phonetical reasons, when the pronunciation of the original name is difficult in another language; the natives of the country we know as Croatia, for example, call their homeland Hrvatska!!

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