Some tourists get quite confused when they're eg. at Termini in Rome trying to get a train to Naples.
This mini guide is made to help you.
    German bad/poor translations of cities (same ordering as last listing)
  • Mailand, Italien: Milano
  • Nizza, Frankreich: Nice
  • Genf, Schweiz: Genève
  • Kopenhagen, Dänemark: København
  • Lissabon, Portugal: Lisboa
    French bad/poor translations of cities
  • Londres, Royaume Uni: London
  • Copenhague, Danemark: København
  • Vienne, Autriche: Wien
  • Venise, Italy: Venezia
  • Francfort, Allemagne: Frankfurt
  • Lisbonne, Portugal: Lisboa
    Spanish bad/poor translations of cities
  • Nueva York, USA: New York
  • Ginebra, Suiza: Genève
  • Basilea, Suiza: Basel
  • Niza, Francia: Nice
  • Londres, Reino Unido: London
Hopes this clarifies everything for you.
I'll indulge myself in a continuation of my Czech-centric noding rampage and add a few Czech cities here: Prague (German 'Prag'): Praha
Brno -- called "Brunn" (with an umlaut on the u) in German. "R" functions as a vowel in this word -- think "Birno", not "Bruno". IIRC the city indeed is called 'Bruno' in Italian.
Pilsen (German also 'Pilsen'): Plzen (with a caron on the n)
Ceske Budejovice -- 'Budweis' in German, sometimes also called that in English. (Exact spelling: 'C*eske' Bude*jovice', i.e. carons on the 'C' in Ceske and first 'e' in Budejovice, and acute accent on the last 'e' in 'Ceske').
Olomouc -- this, the Czech name, is generally used in English; sometimes the German 'Olmutz' is used.


The Czechs also have some wacky names for other countries' cities, e.g.:
Paris is Pariz (with carons on the r and z and an acute accent on the i)
Potsdam, Germany (near Berlin) is 'Postupim'
Rome is Rim (with a caron on the r and an acute accent on the i) Munich is Mnichov
And so on...

Note that calling a German name for a Czech city 'incorrect' is actually a bit historically shaky, because most of these cities have a history of mixed Germanic/Czech settlement.

Before getting uptight about jumbled city, etc. names, we should keep in mind that most people use language as a tool, rather than taking it as a value in its own right... and that there are good reasons for this. So in the times when these names were formed, they travelled to other countries, got mutilated generally to fit speakers' notions of 'what a word should sound like' and without interest in their original form -- people didn't care about those city names for their own sake, but rather about the purposes for which they used the words. That hasn't changed since those days (i.e. most people don't care so much if it's Prague or Praha, as long as they have McDonald's there...) it's just human nature.
There are a lot of cities in Central Europe that have "legitimate" alternate names because of fairly large minority communities. Prag/Praha is a good example of this, as is Danzig/Gdansk. Many of these alternate names are in German, in part because Central Europe was for years dominated and then divided by Prussia and Austria -- kingdoms that were administered in German.

In the case of Genf/Genève, the town itself is indeed in a French-speaking canton of Switzerland. But the country has four official languages, and the German-speakers of that country call it Genf and not Genève.

Even more cities have legitimate alternative names, because of their history and their changes in government.


My favourite city with diferent names is the german town "Aachen", which was founded by the romans with its latin name "Aquae grani" and has a place in the european hsitory ever since.


"Aken" in Dutch/Flaam (which sounds quite reasonable),
"Aix la chapelle" in French,
"Aquisgrán" in Spanish.


(Good luck in finding your way to Aachen on a belgian highway!)

While the listings given above are useful in themselves, the node title brings in a value judgement of spectacular daftness. These are not "bad translations", they are just the English (etc.) names for places. Sometimes - for a variety of historical and linguistic reasons - they happen to be quite different from the current local native language versions. Places which were flourishing commercial centres in past centuries often have English names which reflect the native forms of that time, often in dialects which have since fallen into disuse or disrespect, and which have been followed up by many layers of phonetic shifts in both languages and the odd spelling reform or two. Other places may have changed nationalities since the English name became fossilised, or one native language may have displaced another (the 90% Dutch-speaking Brussel of 150 years ago is now the 90% French-speaking - but formally bilingual - Bruxelles, but it continues to be Brussels in English). Some cities - such as Köln - were first approached via the medium of another language, in this case French, and the French name Cologne has stuck.

Nonetheless it remains the case that, in English, the capital of Italy is Rome, not Roma (Roma, in English, is a football team); the terminal -s of Paris is pronounced, and Nippon is still called Japan. The situation is not static, however; English speakers now rarely call Livorno Leghorn, or Helsinki by its Swedish name Helsingfors, while in the last ten or fifteen years Marseille and Lyon have mostly lost their English -s endings. The trend in English (which also, because of its status as international lingua franca suffers more than other languages from political pressures from non-anglophone countries to change usage - Myanmar, Kyiv, Côte d'Ivoire) is probably towards the use of native language placenames, but it's certainly not there yet.

Or in other words, do not confuse different with bad.

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