Zurich/Zürich

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Zurich/Zürich

Post by Archived Topic » Wed Jan 02, 2002 6:46 am

This is an old chestnut among translators, but continues to give grief. Increasingly, I am giving cities and countries their proper native spelling in English texts (Nürnberg/Nuremberg, Düsseldorf/Dusseldorf, etc.). Zurich, however, I would generally still write without the umlaut in an English text.

I have, however, today found that the Britannica makes a peculiar distinction. They refer to the town "Zurich" as being the capital of the canton "Zürich" on the northwestern end of "Lake Zürich". Can anyone find any substantiation for this distinction in spelling?

The Economist Style Guide has conflicting advice. In the entry on Accents, they advise

"Put the accents and cedillas on French names and words, umlauts on German ones, accents and tildes on Spanish ones, and accents, cedillas and tildes on Portuguese ones: Françoise de Panafieu, Wolfgang Schäuble, Federico Peña. Leave the accents off other foreign names."

This is the general line I adopt. On the other hand, in the entry on Places, they explicitly spell Zurich without the umlaut.

Any clever ideas?

Phil W. July 1, 2004

Submitted by Phil White (Munich - Germany)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Jan 02, 2002 7:01 am

Phil, as an alumnus of the University of Zürich, living just a few dozen miles from the Canton Zürich, I really don't know why the Britannica makes that very strange distinction. In German, as well well as in southern Alemannic (Swiss German), the name is "Zürich" both for the city and the canton. In either language, the former being used for all matters written, the latter in conversation, "Zurich" would be downright wrong.
Reply from Hans Joerg Rothenberger (Walenstadt - Switzerland)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Jan 02, 2002 7:15 am

I have always found this interesting, we Arabs call Germany Almania and not Germania. English-speaking people say Tripoli and we say Tarabalus. Why is there such a diffrence and distinction in pronounciation? Hans, Phil, is there not Zurich Insurance and that does not have the umlaut -- should it?
Ahmed
Reply from Ahmed ELNamer (Dawson Creek - Canada)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Jan 02, 2002 7:29 am

Ahmed, The financial services group is officially called the "Zurich Group". The Swiss part of the group is called "Zürich Schweiz" in German and, as far as I can gather, "Zurich Financial Services" in English. These are all official registered tradenames, as is the name they trade under in French-speaking Switzerland, namely "Zurich Suisse".

Hans, The reason I continue to use "Zurich" in English texts is that the city (and canton) is spelled that way in one of the national languages of the country. The apparently gratuitous distinction made by the Britannica baffles me though.
Reply from Phil White (Munich - Germany)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Jan 02, 2002 7:44 am

Perhaps they'd just run out of umlauts.
Seriously, it can be very difficult to comply with all recommendations, firstly because some applications/typewriters don't have all the suggested images available, and secondly because different authorities give conflicting advice. Also, I'm intrigued as to why French, German, Spanish and Portuguese names should be awarded preferential treatment. And if we carry the reasoning a little further, we'll soon be writing in different scripts as various needs surface. Urdu would be demanding, but as for Alphorn...
Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Jan 02, 2002 8:13 am

Edwin,
The Economist guidelines appear to be for precisely the reason you indicate, namely that the French, German, Spanish and Portuguese diacritical marks are available in the standard extended ASCII set and hence on most word processing systems. It may not be PC, but it's PC-based.
Reply from Phil White (Munich - Germany)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Jan 02, 2002 8:27 am

I always write "Zurich" in English texts, simply because most native English-speakers do not know what those two dots are for. Worse even if you wrote "München" instead of "Munich." Moreover, with Micro$ofts notoriously inconsistent handling of diacritic marks such as German umlauts you never know what appears on the screens of other computers.

Of course you are right in going on using "Zurich," and that not only because it's absolutely correct in French. From my point of view the distinction made by the Britannica simply doesn't make sense.

Ahmed, many place names have undergone very extensive changes of spelling and pronunciation in the course of time, often caused by changes of the cultural surroundings. For instance, Tripoli originally was Greek "Tripolis" ("Three Towns"), so it hasn't changed much in European languages, but please don't ask me why it changed so much more in Arabic. Naples was Neapolis ("New Town" in Greek), now Napoli in Italian. Not very much of a change either. On the other hand, Istanbul comes from Greek "Eis ten polin" ("In the town"), quite a difference both in spelling and pronunciation. What's more, that town has even undergone several changes of names due to political reasons: Byzantium -> Constantinopolis -> Istanbul.

Germania was the Latin name for the whole area settled by the Germans. One of their southern tribes were the Alemannic ("All Men"), who eventually threw the Romans out of the area north of the Alps. That's why my native language is southern Alemannic, aka Swiss German.

The Greeks still call Switzerland "Elvetia," and the nation's name on Swiss post stamps is "Helvetia." That's the Latin name of the area settled by the Celtic tribe of the Helvetii before Julius Caesar conquered it around 58 B.C., as described in his "De Bello Gallico." By the way, the name "Switzerland" ("Suisse" in French, "Svizzera" in Italian, "Svizra" in Reto-Romansh) comes from Schwyz, one of the three cantons that founded the Confoederatio Helvetica (Swiss Confederation) in 1291 A.D..
Reply from Hans Joerg Rothenberger (Walenstadt - Switzerland)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Jan 02, 2002 9:53 am

Administrator's note -- Portions of this discussion relating to former navigational problems on this site have been excised.

[...]

Hans Jörg, I was all excited by finding CD facsimiles of the Book of Kells and the St. Gallen Codex 857!
Reply from Phil White (Munich - Germany)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Jan 02, 2002 10:08 am

Yes, the St. Gallen Codex 857 is available at CHF 48.00. I grew up less than two miles from the monastery, by the way.
Reply from Hans Joerg Rothenberger (Walenstadt - Switzerland)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Jan 02, 2002 10:22 am

If you're interested in that sort of thing, do you know that the entire Codex Manesse is online in hi-res under
http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/sammlu ... ame=cpg848

But I think we're probably hijacking this site!
Reply from Phil White (Munich - Germany)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Jan 02, 2002 10:37 am

Yes, Phil, I knew that site. And, as long as we don't go into details of those old codices, we are not hijacking the thread. After all, the Codex Manesse was written in the Zurich / Zürich area - see the title of this thread.
Reply from Hans Joerg Rothenberger (Walenstadt - Switzerland)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Jan 02, 2002 10:51 am

Hans, Love-fifteen. I'd forgotten that.
Reply from Phil White (Munich - Germany)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Jan 02, 2002 11:05 am

Hans, besides Tripolis it is also known as Tripolitania.I have never been to St Gallan when I traveled to Switzerland, but my father used to go there on a yearly basis before his death. There is a world-renowned eye clinic that treats people with Retinitis Pigmentosa (sp.?). He used to go there and receive treatment that helped with his vision. He very much enjoyed being there.

On the matter of codices, I remember when I was growing up as a child my father sent both my brother and I to a Madrasa in Tripoli. I think it was a punishment for misbehaving. We hated it. We were all crammed in a classroom sitting on straw mats and reciting verses from the Quran.What was interesting is that we used wooden planks (same size as legal paper) to write the verses using ink. The wooden boards were also used as a source of reading. A whole Surah (many verses making a composition) was written out and then handed out to the pupils. I am not sure why this was used seeing that in school we were using paper. I know that this is OT. Just thought that I would share it since it triggered an old memory.

Ahmed
6th of July, 2004

Reply from Ahmed ELNamer (Dawson Creek - Canada)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Jan 02, 2002 11:20 am

Codices? How did we get on to frozen fish?
Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed Jan 02, 2002 11:34 am

Edwin, codices are joined cubes for playing games, not frozen fish. Ok, just kiddin'....
Ahmned, the world is small, isn't it? I'm glad to hear your father got help at that clinic, which I know fairly well because my own trade is roughly in the same field, just two or three inches below (maxillofacial surgery).
Thanks for sharing your memories. It's always interesting to get a glimpse of other cultures.
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