What’s In a Name?


I write this blog in response to seeing such things as “Nueva York” and “Estados Unidos.” Let me first say that I try not to be an ethnocentric human, or a xenophobic paranoid. I would be more than fine with the majority of Americans becoming Spanish-speaking or of Hispanic descent. My problem is with translating proper names. Because, I am sorry, but the name of “Nueva York” is, in fact, “New York.” That is its name. That is the name it was given, it is the name that the people that founded it, (after being called New Amsterdam, of course) decided to call it. The founders did not want it to be “Nueva York,” but “New York.” And the framers of the Constitution, in their infinite wisdom, decided on the name of our country to be “The United States of America” not “Los Estados Unidos.” Let me say here, that I am only presenting the Spanish translations because those are the only ones I know. I have a problem with all the other languages translating it. So, you will say to me “well, there is a word in those names, that is translatable.” And I will say, “that is true, but how come ‘Los Angeles’ remains ‘Los Angeles’ and does not become ‘The Angeles’ or even further, ‘The Angels’?”  “El Paso” does not become “The Pass” and “San Antonio” is not “Saint Anthony.”  I know this is starting to sound more and more as a bigoted diatribe but it is not. For you will say to me, “what, Josh, will you call that country that conquered half the world on the Iberian Peninsula, the one you take so much umbrage with?” And I will again, respond to you, “I will gladly call this country ‘Espana’ because that is what the people of this area want it to be called, what they called it from the start.” Sure this is an ethnocentric argument, but it is ethnocentric for EVERYONE. It’s not taking sides with one ethnicity. I believe that all locations should be known by the inhabitant’s moniker. Whatever it was founded as, and is known as by the populace, should be the name for everyone else. These are not translatable words, they are proper names and that is that. German is Deutschland, Austria is Osterreich. I would gladly know the actual names of these places than boldly and haphazardly translating them. It is so arrogant and conceited to translate place names. I don’t want to do it. I’m not going to change the name of some place to my convenience, putting the inhabitants at a disadvantage. If you are from some place, you should know the place you are in, no matter who is speaking of it. Why should you, living in New York, have to know the name of your locale in everyone else’s language? You live there, you know the name. That is it. Everyone else should bend to your needs. They don’t even live there! Seriously, I will gladly find out the names of all other places, it’s your place, you got to decide what to call it. The capital of Osterreich is Wien, and so on and so forth. So no more “Nueva York,” it’s fucking “New York,” I do not care where you are from. Because where we’re from, New York, it’s “New York” and that’s all that matters and this applies to everyone else. It’s not all about Americans or New Yorkers, it’s about everyone and the place they live. It’s what you call it, not what others translate it as. Because you can’t translate proper names! End of story!

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