Cities/Countries whose Native Names are Different from English Names

I’m looking for cities and countries whose names, in the local labguage, are significantly different from what we call them in America.

Obvious example: Germany/Deutchland, Finland/Suomi, Cologne/Koln, Florence/Firenze.

Any good examples from the Arabic-speaking world? I mean, do Egyptians use the name “Alexandria,” or do they call their town something else in Arabic?

I wouldn’t include Cologne or Florence in this list. Both Cologne and Köln are derived directly from Latin Colonia, and so are Florence and Firenze (Florentium, IIRC). Those are not cases of fundamentally different names, rather slightly different pronunciation.

Alexandria is Al-Iskandariyyah in Arabic (or the transcription of its Arabic name into our Latin alphabet); it goes back directly to its ancient name, derived from the city’S founder Alexander the Great.

Jerusalem (Yerushalayim in Hebrew, al-Quds “the Holy one” in Arabic) might be mentioned here.

Nah, not really. Lots of “J”-s in the transcription of Hebrew words were carried over from Latin, where they (presumably) had the proper “Y” sound; so “Jerusalem” is really just a very slight corruption of Yerushalem, which is the original name of the city (the ancient Caananite name, of which Yerushalayyim is a slight “Hebrification” – both pronounciations appear in the Old Testament)
Al-Quds is just a completely different name given, much later, by the Arabs (just as the Romans tried to rename it Ilia Capitolina), and so is basicly irrelevant to this discussion.
If, however, you’re looking for an English name that is nothing like the original – Arabic in this case – look no further than Egypt, which is Mizrayim in Hebrew, and something very similar (can’t remember the exact pronounciation) in Arabic.

Also, just because nobody has mentioned it yet, Hellas (or “Ellas”?) doesn’t sound very much like “Greece”

Greece is Ellas in Greek (well, that’s the Romanized version of the word at least.) This comes through in English when we call thing “Hellenic.”

Maybe al-Quds is much younger as a name, but it seems to be a common name for the city among speakers of Arabic, and so it’s far from being irrelevant here - the OP had asked about cities whose local name differs substantially from the common English name, and al-Quds/Jersualem exactly fits that. The OP didn’t include impose any conditions on how long the name has to have been used, or where it came from.

[sub]And just one slight nitpick: It was Aelia Capitlina, not Ilia.[/sub]

Other places that come to mind include Wales/Cymru, Japan/Nihon/Nippon, the Basque Country/Euskadi and probably Austria/Österreich, although the former is a Latin translation of the latter, respectively of a medieval German form of the latter.

Switzerland (Suisse in French, Svizzera in Italian, and Schweiz in German) uses its Latin variants Helvetia and Confoederation Helvetica for some offical purpuses, for example on coins.

Confoederatio, that is. And there’s one include/impose too much in my last post. I really ought to get used to using the preview.

There’s a good list here - notable examples:

Albania - Shqipëria

Hungary - Magyarország

Scotland - Alba

Isle of Man - Ellan Vannin (or also just Mannin)
Plus, Cornwall - Kernow
Admittedly Manx and Cornish are extinct languages!

Actually, almost any country which has a significant history and which does not have English as its principal language will have an indigenous name different from the common English name.

Norway: Norge
Sweden: Sverige
Finland: Suomi
Denmark: Danmark
Germany: Deutschland
Austria: Oesterreich
The Netherlands: Die Nederlanden
Belgium: Belgique
Spain: España
Italy: Italia
Croatia: Hrvatska
Switzerland: (numerous names noted above)
Czech Republic: Cesky
Serbia: Srbija
Greece: ‘Ellas (pronounced Hellas)
Estonia: Eesti
Russia: properly transliterated, Rossiya
Ivory Coast: Cote d’Ivoire
India: Bharat
Burma: Myanmar
Japan: Nihon
Korea: Chosen
Turkey: Turkiye
Cambodia: Kampuchea, Khmer

It’s “Misr” (with an “accented” “s” ) in Arabic.

Right, but many or most of these are very similar to the English, and obviously historically related to the English terms.

This is of course an interesting one. The German term is related to “Teutonic” and similar terms describing Germanic people in general; the Italian adjective is still tedesco for that reason. Cecil addresses the multitude of names for it in a column, but (as he states) the origin of the Roman term GERMANIA is not known for certain.

I’ve always wondered about the exact relation between the English term and the terms used in the Romance languages: España, Espagne, Espanha, and so forth. The origin is in the Latin HISPANIA (originally from Phoenician, possibly from a term meaning “Land of Rabbits.” The loss of the initial H in the modern Romance languages reflects the loss of that phoneme in Latin during Classical times at the latest (I forget exactly when.) I’m not certain where the loss of the E in English comes from; it’s possible that the first syllable was entirely lost at some point in Romance/Late Vulgar Latin, and the E in the Spanish word is just the usual epenthetic added to prevent a consonant cluster that is impossible word-initially.

This reflects, as far as I know, the usual English habit of using terms derived from French. The French Italie is the result of the usual loss in French of final A, making it an entirely predictable cognate of the Italian Italia.

Unlike Hungary and Finland (which speak related languages), with their radically different native and English names, this one at least resembles the English, though I’m not sure of the origin.

Can anyone tell about the origin of the term “India”? How old a name is “Bharat”?

Actually, not a strange occurrence at all. The name in Burmese is pronounced, so I’ve read, /baa ma/; “Myanmar” (pronounced “myahn ma”) is simply an ancient form of the same word (though exactly what led the ruling regime to demand its use overseas I’m not certain of.) The Rs are simply the result of bad British transliteration - there is no sound resembling the American R in either of the words, but those R-dropping Brits used it to mark long vowels.

조선 Jo-seon (formerly romanised as Chosun)

“People from the East”, in either German or Swedish (can’t recall which), as pronounced in Estonian.

Bhutan: Druk-Yul
China: Zhongguo or Zhonghua
Maldives: Dhivehi Raajje
Morocco: Al Maghrib

Thanks for the correction; I did that one and Japan/Nihon from memory.

Moscow: Moskva
Saint Petersburg: Sankt Peterburg

Auschwitz: Oswiecem (sp)
Prague: Praha

New Zealand: Aotearoa

Vienna = Wien (pronounceed almost as Ween as far as I can tell.)

Copenhagen = Kobenhavn (The last syllable is pronounced sort of like “hawn.”)

New Orleans

I suppose we’d need the OP to clarify, but I suspect (s)he meant “places that we (English speakers) have invented names for, that are nothing like the original place names.”
In the case of Jerusalem/Al-Quds, arguably it would be the Arabs who “messed up” the perfectly good, existing name in favor of something they invented… while English has remained true to the source – what the original inhabitants actually called the place.
Anyway, right now – politics aside – the city is officially called “Yerushalayim” by the people controlling it… not “Al-Quds”

Yup :smack: