Spanish place names compared to English place names

I can translate most spanish names of places, like San Francisco which is St. Francis, San Jose which is St. Joseph, San Andreas fault-St. Andrew’s fault, San Jaun is St. John, San Antonio is St. Anthony, but I can’t figure out San Diego’s english translation. It’s probably easy and I’ll probably slap myself in the head because it’s so obvious, but tell me, what is San Diego’s english translation?

When I said I can translate most spanish place names, I meant places named after people. I’m confusing myself. I should go to bed.

Even though it doesn’t seem to be a cognate, the usual English translation of “Diego” is “James.”

bob scene is right, st. james is san diego, at least in my spanish bible.

Here’s another page that just has the variations on James in different languages: Other Spanish names that are also translate to James include: Iacobo, Jaime, Santiago, Jacome, Diego, Dias or Diaz.

But keep in mind that this kind of translation really only works for names that have a common Biblical origin, like those of saints.

Saint James the Greater is Santiago. The city of San Diego, California is actually named after Saint Didacus of Alcala.

I believe Didacus is another form of the name James.

Rough guess on Diego = James; the “-iego” (or “-iago”) comes from the Latin Iacomus; he starts out as “Sant Iago” or similar, and the dental stop migrates (“San Tiago”); mix in sound changes and phonotactic rules in Spanish (nb. I don’t speak Spanish, this is all semi-informed guesswork) and you end up with a vocalized dental stop (“t” —> “d”) and a vowel sound change (“a” —> “e”), and there you are.

The name “James” got a serious set of variations when it got to Spain.

Let’s start with that the two original Apostles referred to as “James” in English were in fact named “Iakov”; this eventually became latinized in two forms: Iacobvs and Iacomvs. The latter mecame the English “James” and the Italian “Giacomo”.

In Spain, the “Iacobvs” version became Jacobo, straight; the “Iacomvs” version became Jaime, Jaume and Jácome. There also was a re-shortening back to “Iaco” or “Iago.” From this came, in mediaeval Spanish, Sanct Iago or Sanct Iaco, “St. James”, eventually becoming Santiago; Diego may have evolved parallelly from stop migration, as in Steve Wright’s post, and from D’Iago (“Of James”) meaning related to some James or invoking the patronage of St. James(Also let’s remember there were several “Spanish” languages developing during that period)

The surname, Díaz, is documented in literature as in use c. 1100AD in Castille as the patronymic of the children of someone named Diego. So technically speaking my family name is an approximation of “Jameson.”


You seem to know quite a bit about the history of Spanish. Have you come across any good web sites that discuss the evolution of Spanish grammar from Latin?

Here is some background on the patronym of the city of San Diego.

Reference sources say that San Diego Bay was named by an explorer by the name of Vizcaino in 1602. The mission was founded in 1769, the county was founded in 1850, and the city in 1856.

I once asked what “California” translates to on the board. It took quite a long time before someone came up with the meaning.

James-Diego. I understand the connection now that I’ve read the thread. I think it’s settled, maybe, but now, California. Handy has asked. I read somewhere that the origin of the name is a mystery and the name was taken out of an old book. It seems to me there should be more substance to this. I don’t quite believe it. Is it true?

Well, at they have this tidbit:

The World Almanac of the U.S.A says

Cali- (with various spellings) has the meaning “good” or “beautiful” in a number of Romance languages and Greek.