Why Germany?

Why do we call Germany “Germany”? Germans call it “Deutchland”(sp), so it’s not like we can claim it’s a variation type deal. So what gives?

I’ve wondered the same thing about Japan, wich is “Nippon” to the Japanese.

The master has already taken this one up (although there’s still room for discussion):

The Cat In The Hat

A tangent:
It’s no coincidence that Dutch and Deutsch are often confused. Dutch is the modern manifestation of Low German; German is the modern manifestation of High German. The difference between the Low and the High lay partly in their pronunciation of diphthongs, like e u. Low of course meant “lowland”, not “low on a map where North is at the top”. At some point the dialects became separate languages.

So each nationality calls itself the same name, just pronounced in their own special ways. The Germans call the Dutch “Niederlanders”; I don’t know what the Dutch call the Germans.

So when somebody erroneously thinks the “Pennsylvania Dutch” originally came from the Netherlands, just remember that there is a good explanation.

We call Deutschland Germany because that what it’s western neighbors originally called it. We call Nippon Nippon Japan because that is somehow derived from the Chinese “Land of the Rising Sun” (which it really is from China). I think a lot of these multi named countries get that way when early contact was filtered through another country. We are lucky that the Eastern Europeans do not call us the “Colonials”.

Und Germans call the USA, “Der Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika” The Danish call Germany “Tuskland”, in Italy, “Toscadro” is “German” in France, Allamange, etc. In German, Colonge is Ko:ln (the nearest i could find to an umlaut on my keyboard) & how about Vienna, it’s Wien, pronounced:Veen. A native of Vienna is a Wiener. Someone from Hamburg is a Hamberger, & some guy from Frankfort is a…


Carl… so on Happy Days, Pinky Tuskadaro was actually pinky german… or pinky commie… or pinky red??? the leather wearing communist… I shudda known.

The wisest man I ever knew taught me something I never forgot. And although I never forgot it, I never quite memorized it either. So what I’m left with is the memory of having learned
something very wise that I can’t quite remember. -George Carlin

The roman poet Tacitus wrote a treatise on the tribes of an area known to the romans as “Germania”
Why they called them that I do not know but the term is almost as old as the now-ending millenium

Almost twice as old as the now ending millenium?

A bit of an old joke, but German related.

What are the three steps to the re-unification of Germany?

  1. One Monetary currency
  2. Dismantle the Berlin Wall
  3. Take France Back

Now the real question is why is Holland called Holland? Hoch land in German would mean highland, so that can’t be it. That might be the Dutch name for the Germans.

As for the name Germany it’s also possible that the reason the Romans called them that was because that was the name of one of their tribes. The Polish call the Germans either Niemcy (those who don’t speak) or Schwaby which apparently comes from the name of the German tribe closest to Poland, the Schwabs.

WOULD YOU PEOPLE READ CECIL’S COLUMN ON IT BEFORE YOU ADD COMMENTS ALREADY ADDRESSED BY HIM??? < Trying to contain frustration at pointless additions that are inaccurate and incorrect >

In one out of two German crossword puzzles you’re asked for a type of spear used by the ancient Germans, and the answer is “Ger”. Thus, I’ve always assumed that Germans were simply “Ger-men” back then.

Alternative theory: The word is related to the non-capitalized “german”, as in “cousin-german”, from Latin “germanus”, “having the same parents”. This could be a variant of the “us/them people” approach, or it could be a slur by the Romans (“those guys are incestuous”).

Boris B:

I think it’s “duits” for German, “duitsland” for Germany etc., so it’s a variant of “Deutsch…”.


Holland is actually just a province of the Netherlands. Maybe it’s the highlands within that region after all, I don’t know.

Except that (today’s) Swabia is nowhere near the Polish border but rather on the opposite side, in the South-West corner of Germany.

The ‘hol’ in ‘holland’ has nothing to do with highlands. ‘hol’ is a cognate of the English hole and means something along the lines of depression, low area, etc., which Holland definitely is (most of it is below sea level).

There is a second, darker meaning. When the land now occupied by Schiphol airport was underwater it was the site of a naval battle. Schiphol literally means ships’ grave.

Just my two guilders.

From EB:

So the Dutch call the Germans Duits. What do the Dutch call themselves? Nederlander?

Yeah Swabia is now in SW Germany, but they did once have a lot of contact with the Poles.

Also I don’t think Cecil was entirely right when he said that “Niemcy” meant dumb. It simply means those who don’t speak. That could be those who don’t speak our language, or those who are generally pretty quiet cause they can’t understand us well… I have heard of that “mute” idea before but it just doesn’t make sense to me.

Konrad: “Dumb” is a synonym of “mute”. In other words, they mean the same thing.

Melanie: I know what dumb means. I’m just saying that “Niemcy” doesn’t have to mean dumb. It could just mean those who don’t speak our language. Not those who don’t speak at all.

Keep in mind that Poland was surrounded by other Slavs from almost all directions so they may have considered the Germans some sort of anomaly. We can communicate with the Ukrainian, Russians, Czechs, Slovaks, Kaszubians etc… but not these guys.