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flo's avatar

Why do the French call Germany "Allemagne"?

Asked by flo (13313points) March 21st, 2013
28 responses
“Great Question” (7points)

How did they get from Deutschland to Allemagne?

Is there a map that has the names the countiries & cities phonetically (in English) the way the natives pronounce it , Pa-ree, Italia,...

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bookish1's avatar

It derives from the Alamannis, a Germanic tribe. They were the closest Germanic tribe to the French (and eventually conquered by Clovis), so the name stuck as a term for Germanic people…

Man I love this stuff…

2davidc8's avatar

For that matter, how do we get Germany from Deutschland?
Also, in Spanish, Germany is Alemania, which is similar to the French.
Country names are weird anyhow. For example, Finland is Suomi to the Finns.
And China, well, the name of the country in Chinese actually translates as Central Nation.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@bookish1 That is impressive. I had no clue how they got that. Europe has a very interesting history.

DominicX's avatar

@2davidc8 Those are all the differences between endonyms (names used by the people themselves) and exonyms (names used by outsiders). Names like “Finland”, “Germany”, and “Greece” derive from Roman exonyms for those places, whereas “Suomi”, “Deutschland”, and “Ellada” are the endonyms.

bookish1's avatar

@DominicX : Like the natives’ names for themselves mattered… (Just kidding, but I’m sure that is how the Romans felt.)

@Adirondackwannabe : Indeed it does! I’ve been getting a faceful of medieval and early modern European military history this semester. Fun stuff.

flo's avatar

I wish I had expressed my question better. I don’t mean what is the history of it so much, but how dare people go around changing what people call their own country?
@2davidc8 you’re right, I was just giving an example.

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (2points)
2davidc8's avatar

@DominicX Wonderful, GA. I’ve always wondered about Ellada, Helvetia, China, etc. I learned something today!

bookish1's avatar

@flo: It’s a good question. Sometimes it seems sillier than other times. But frequently, there is no equivalent phoneme in the language of another country… The French do not call it Pa-ree, for instance… We don’t have that same ‘r’ consonant in English.

Now, a map like that in IPA would be awesome. I bet someone’s made that already… @DominicX ? ;)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@flo They probably fought with them so much they just thought of the tribe as that name, and as Germany grew larger the name of the tribe stuck.

2davidc8's avatar

I’ve seen maps where every place name is written in its native language, but not IPA.

bookish1's avatar

@flo, also, to add to what @Adirondackwannabe said, there is a huge difference between the official names of modern nation-states, and the names of different groupings/tribes in the premodern era. Often, conquered peoples would be called by the name of their conqueror, for just one example of how complex it was back then. Sometimes, the groupings were temporary, to fight a specific enemy. Frequently, empires, including Rome, the Mongols, and Byzantium, would assign particular groupings specific functions in their empire—in essence, cultivating distinct ethnic identities where none had existed so clearly before.

None of this stuff is cut and dry. It just appears so to us centuries later in the age of race-consciousness and “self-identity” and nation-states based on supposedly eternal “essences.”

woodcutter's avatar

Who calls France- Gaul?

flo's avatar

@bookish1 all I know is people wonder why some people do not bother to learn the language of the land they move to? Someone asked that Q in Fluther. They think it is laziness or disrespect, etc. when it is not, most of the time.

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (1points)
bookish1's avatar

@flo: It seems to me that that is a different question than the historical origins of country names in foreign languages.

@woodcutter: No one presently that I know of… And France came from the name of the Franks, who were a Germanic people as well! (They conquered the Gauls after Roman control disintegrated there.)

See how there’s no such thing as an essentially ‘pure’ people?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@woodcutter The Gaul’s were another tribe weren’t they? This is a great history lesson.

zenvelo's avatar

Well, what English or French speaker visits Helvetia to get some chocolate or a nice watch?

Same with Greece, which is Ellada (I don’t have Greek fonts).Grrece came from the Roman Graecia.

The Romans called the area around the Rhine, Germania. Those Romans named a lot of things. Some of the names stuck.

France got named France because the Franks conquered the Gauls. The Franks were German, and set a precedent they followed for about 1600 more years. No wonder the French don’t trust the Germans.

glacial's avatar

I imagine that in some cases, one nation might want to name another even before they visited, or made any contact with the people living there. Filling in “empty” places on the map, so to speak.

submariner's avatar

flo—the French didn’t change the name of that nation, because there was no such nation until the 19th century. Before then, the French used “Allemagne” to refer collectively to the various smaller states of that region that eventually banded together to form “Deutschland”. The French didn’t bother to change their name for it after this political event. Likewise for the English and “Germany”.

bookish1's avatar

That’s right @submariner, the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy nor Roman… Discuss. :-p

glacial's avatar

@bookish1 Hold on, I’m going to need to get more cawfee for this.

El_Cadejo's avatar

GQ. I’ve often wondered the same thing myself

flo's avatar

Okay, but at this point in hhistory, what do the Spanish (for eg.) call themselves? “Espana” right? So, regardless of what the history is, shouldn’t we all start calling their country “Espana”?

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (2points)
zenvelo's avatar

No,it’s Espana in Spanish. it’s Spain in English. It’s Spagne in Italian, Espagne in French, Spanien in German. Why don’t we leave it alone?

Response moderated (Spam)
flo's avatar

@zenvelo You make it sound imminent, “Why don’t we leave it alone?”

Anyway, let’s say headhunters are asking (or the questionaires ask it) what country you got your education your work experience in. Your answer would be: “I have to Google it, since it depends what language of the questionaire, or the headhunter speaks, Espana in Spanish. it’s Spain in English. It’s Spagne in Italian, Espagne in French, Spanien in German, .....”?

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (0points)
zenvelo's avatar

@flo Then it depends on what language you’re using for the questionnaire. That’s pretty simple.

flo's avatar

@zenvelo, simplicity,would be the reasoning behind my position. Edit to add: ^^^?

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (0points)
xenonman's avatar

Pourquoi pas? lol

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