Why do countries have a different name in the native language?

Derek 2010/05/12 00:27:39
I find this fact really funny.

Take Hungary for example. Foreign names for Hungary are basically variations of the same word : Hungary (English), Hungria (Spanish), Hongrie (French) and Ungarn (German). All of these are vaguely pronounced the same.
BUT in Hungarian the country is called Magyarország! It's not pronounced or written even closely!
ungarn german vaguely pronounced hungarian country magyarorszg pronounced written closely
What gives?

Another example is China. Except for French (Chine) and Hungarian (Kína), China is written the exact same way and pronounced very similarly in all the above-mentioned languages. And yet in Chinese, People's Republic of China is Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó.
pronounced above-mentioned languages chinese peoples republic china zhnghu rnmn gnghgu
Where did the word China go?

A really funny one is Germany. It's called Germany (English), Alemania (Spanish), Allemagne (French) and Németország (Hungarian). And the German name for it is Deutschland!
germany english alemania spanish allemagne french nmetorszg hungarian german deutschland

How weird isn't it? That the whole world called certain country a name that the natives don't?
Do you guys have more examples of countries whose native name does not resemble the international one at all? Or an explanation for this discrepancy?

While I was researching this I found out that most, if not all, the countries of the Americas have the same name internationally and locally. Is this because the Americas are "young" compared to Europe and Asia or because the Americas can be divided to three basic languages (Spanish, English and Portuguese)?
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  • nayameie 2010/07/04 00:49:49
    "Hungary" comes from the Old Turkic "Onogur" meaning "ten arrows" or "ten tribes." This is what the Turks called the Magyar tribes, and the rest of Europe "bastardized" the Turkish name for the Magyars instead of the Magyar's name for themselves (or should I say ourselves, since I'm Hungarian).
    Not all countries used the Onogur name, however. In Czech, they say Madarsko, In Serbian and Croatian it's Madarska. In Farsi/Persian it's Majaarestan. In Arabic it's El-Magr.
    I'm interested in why the Hungarian names for certain countries are so different from other languages. Such as Lengyelország for Poland, Németország for Germany, Olaszország for Italy, Oroszország for Russia, Grúzia for Georgia. Pretty much everything else is a "Hungarianized" version of the international name.
  • Derek nayameie 2010/07/05 20:33:12
    I'm not Hungarian myself, so my guess would be that they are creative?

    Well, at least I got an explanation as to the origin of Hungary's foreign name, thank you! :)

    Now I just need to find out about China and Germany.
  • nayameie Derek 2010/07/07 18:38:50
    Here's your answer on Germany. Check out the Wikipedia page about it:


    It explains the 6 different "origins" of the various names for Germany. Now I know that the Hungarian name Németország comes from the old Slavic word for "mute" or the Nemetes tribe.
  • Derek nayameie 2010/07/08 03:18:14
    Thank you! You've been actually very helpful :D
  • PeteBird nayameie 2010/12/01 20:15:52
    The modern Turkish name for Hungary is Macaristan, that's why it's important to note that Turkic does not necessarily mean Turkish.
  • Derek PeteBird 2010/12/02 00:10:36
    I suppose they are as similar to each other as modern English and ancient Celtic.
  • Kalayaan 001 2010/05/13 15:18:01
    Kalayaan 001
    Nations are like people. There is the name that we call ourselves and there is a nickname name that others call us.

    Also, we have to take into account the grammar, pronunciation, etc... of the other language. For example, China. Just like the Europeans, the Chinese considered their nation the center of the world. Thus the called their nation "中國" (pronounced: Zhōng-guó) with 中 ("zhōng") generally meaning "central" and 國 ("guó") meaning "kingdom". Thus, 中國 ("Zhōng-guó"), the Central Kingdom.

    Of course, the Westerners (Especially the Europeans) didn't agree. According to Wikipedia, the word "China" is derived from Cin (چین), a Persian name for China popularized in Europe by Marco Polo. That is probably derived from "Qin" (秦)(778 BC – 207 BC), the westernmost of the Chinese kingdoms during the Zhou (周) dynasty , or from the succeeding Qin (秦) dynasty (221 – 206 BC).
  • Derek Kalayaa... 2010/05/13 15:32:19
    Cool! Thanks for the explanation. It makes sense that the Europeans wouldn't want to relinquish their title as the center of the universe.

    They let Japan keep it's name though (sort of).
  • Kalayaa... Derek 2010/05/13 15:34:13
    Kalayaan 001
    Well, every nationalistic person likes thinking of their nation as "the center". I guess I can't blame them for that.
  • LeifEriksson 2010/05/13 08:59:06
    Sweden is actually Sverige in its native language, which derives from Svea Rike, Svearna being the plural form of the group of people it's named after, and Rike being essentially similar to "Reich," in that it means "Kingdom."

    SO, the Kingdom of the Svea people. Where "Sweden" comes from, I'm not quite sure.
  • Derek LeifEri... 2010/05/13 15:33:18
    It looks like a bastardization of the original. Sweden has loosely the same vowels as Sverige.
  • Linkums 2010/05/12 00:39:37
    There's usually a story behind that... but I don't know what it is. Japan is the same way, in Japanese Japan is Nihon.
  • Derek Linkums 2010/05/12 00:42:27
    It's vaguely similar LOL.
  • ὤTṻnde΄ӂ 2010/05/12 00:30:19
    They don't have different names, they are all Hungary, only pronounced differently in different languages---the name stays regardless.
  • Derek ὤTṻnde΄ӂ 2010/05/12 00:35:37
    But why isn't the word "Hungary" ANYTHING at all like the native name?
  • ὤTṻnde΄ӂ Derek 2010/05/12 00:53:29
    That's a native name for us, not for Hungary. When they talk about Hungary, they say Hungary in Spanish, Italian, French etc.
  • Derek ὤTṻnde΄ӂ 2010/05/12 03:42:39
    I know that. You're not answering my question. Why do we say "Hungarian" when Hungarians say "Magyar"?
  • ὤTṻnde΄ӂ Derek 2010/05/12 03:53:48
    Perhaps because "Magyar" mean Hungarian....very simple. What do you want them to say? You expect them not to use their language when it comes to "Hangarians." This is crazy. They are speaking their own language and they don't have to say it in English when they speak Hungarian. That would be very arrogant of us.
  • Derek ὤTṻnde΄ӂ 2010/05/13 04:36:52
    *Headdesk* I'm suggesting the VERY OPPOSITE.
    Why do WE say Hungarian? Did someone pull that word out his a$$? Why does the rest of Europe say it? Do don't WE say some bastardized of "Magyar"?

    In English, most of the names of other countries are bastardized versions of the native name, usually focusing in some similarity in pronunciation. We say "French" instead of "Francais" and "Japan" instead of "Nippon". In both these examples the English word is pronounced in a similar way to the native word.
    In my example about Hungarian, the international word and the native word are not similar at all and I want to know why.
  • Kamrom ... Derek 2013/07/14 19:08:37
    Kamrom Dechu
    Ohh I see the problem now. I think your conversation inadvertently gave the answer to your inquiry.
  • Morishi... ὤTṻnde΄ӂ 2013/03/09 00:52:46
    Morishita Shizuka
    Tünde kedves te egy nyomorék vagy. Ha nem értesz angolul, akkor inkább ne égesd magad.

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