When I was studying French in junior high school, I remember it bothered me that they called their language Français, and we called it French. Mexicans call their language Español, but we call it Spanish. What we call English, they call Ingles. This came back to me reading this thread, in which it was mentioned that we call the Gàidhlig language Scots Gaelic.
This phenomenon continues in names of people (Japanese :: Nipponese), countries (Deutchland :: Germany) and cities (Munich :: München). I understand some issues of pronunciation, when one language just doesn’t have the sounds from another. That may explain why we say Mexican instead of Mexicano, where the “x” is pronounced with a sound that doesn’t exist in English, but why do we pronounce that large French city as PARE-iss instead of Pare-EE?
This seems to be a fairly universal phenomenon, and it just doesn’t make sense to me. If I meet someone from another culture, and they say they’re Lakota, then I’m going to call them Lakota, by golly, rather than making up a word of my own to refer to them. It’s easier, it shows them more respect, it avoids future confusion, and I just can’t understand why we don’t all do it.
Can anyone explain this phenomenon?