Germany/Alemania/Deutschland?

Discuss word origins and meanings.

Germany/Alemania/Deutschland?

Post by Archived Topic » Wed May 26, 2004 8:39 am

Why are all the Names for Germany so different?
Holland/Netherlands too
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Germany/Alemania/Deutschland?

Post by Archived Reply » Wed May 26, 2004 8:53 am

I know why Holland and Netherlands are different: In Dutch we call our country Nederland (Netherland), and it used to be plural. Holland is actually only a part of the Netherlands; North and South Holland are two provinces, but they were the most powerful ones in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. And since historically speaking all the provinces were independend and the country more a sort of confederation of provinces (hence the plural for the Netherlands, in Dutch 'de lage landen') people would say 'I am from Holland' instead of 'I'm from the Netherlands'. Hence the confusion.

Desiree van den Berg
Amsterdam
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Germany/Alemania/Deutschland?

Post by Archived Reply » Wed May 26, 2004 9:08 am

The first (Germany) is the English name for the country; the second (actually it is spelled"Allemagne") is the French name; and the third "Deutschland)is the German name for the "land of the Deutsch "(Germans).

Leif
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed May 26, 2004 9:22 am

Ahem, Leif. 'Alemania" is the Spanish word for Germany.
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed May 26, 2004 9:37 am

Spanish? And they can't even spell it right! *G*
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed May 26, 2004 9:51 am

These answers, while accurate, don't really seem to answer the question. I mean, I can see how "Espana" becomes "Spain," but how does "Deutschland" become "Germany?" None of the dictionaries I checked provides any enlightenment on this.

(And it's good to finally be able to get back to this site!)

Lois Martin, Birmingham, AL, USA
February 25
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed May 26, 2004 10:05 am

Lois is right. I want to know too. I've been puzzled for years by the French word for Germany - "Allemagne". There's a German newspaper is called "Allgemeine Zeitung". "Allgemeine" means general, I believe, which doesn't make sense in this case. Maybe the French explorer who gave a name to the country picked the first word he came across when he landed there?
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed May 26, 2004 10:20 am

Thanks for Obvious Leif, that was the point in me asking the question. Any answers?
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed May 26, 2004 10:34 am

The Italians refer to Germans as "Tedesci". I wonder how this came about. Maybe they were just another tribe like the Alemanii and the Helvetii. Even France is named after a German tribe, the Franks.
I believe that in Scandinvia Germany is known as Tyskland.
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Germany/Alemania/Deutschland?

Post by Archived Reply » Wed May 26, 2004 10:49 am

I ask a question and get questions.
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed May 26, 2004 11:03 am

Yes - it shows just how upsetting the matter is. By the way: in Czech, the word for Germany is Nemecko, which means "land of the dumb" (=unable to speak... or to speak Czech, at least).
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed May 26, 2004 11:17 am

The word DEUTSCHLAND comes from the Old High German word diutisc "vulgar" or "vernacular". That is, people who speak a common vernacular tongue rather than Latin. The land of those who spoke diutisc (Dutch, i.e. German) became known as Diutiskland (then later, Deutschland, "Germany"). The Italian word tedesco (German) is just their version of diutisc.

The word GERMAN comes from the word Germania, which is what the Romans called the region occupied by a tribe called the Germani. This was not a region with definite borders, but an area with boundaries that shifted as the tribe moved around. During the 16th century English people started applying this name to the place where the Germani used to live.

So the question remains, why did they call themselves Germani? The root meaning could be "neighbor" or "relative" (i.e. "neighbors" or "relatives" to the Celts (compare the Old Irish word gair "neighbor"). Note that germane (often spelled germain but originally spelled german) means "appropriate" or "relevant". It once meant "brother" or "close relative" and in Middle English, a cousin-german was a "first-cousin". Other suggestions are that it derives from the Teutonic word gari "spear," a German being therefore a "spearman," that it comes from ger-man meaning "head man," or that it is derived from ger-man meaning "greedy hand". So take your pick or possibly none of the above.

After the ancient Germans migrated, their territory was occupied by a tribe whose name meant “all men” – the Allemani (compare Allemagne) – and as any Shaker can no longer tell you, celibacy ain't a good strategy for longevity.
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Ken G - February 28, 2002
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed May 26, 2004 11:32 am

Apologies to all those Shakers and celibates out there. In my previous comment, I managed to misspeak on two points in one short sentence (the last). There is still one Shaker community left in the world today (Sabbathday Lake, Maine in the U.S.A.) and the Shakers have managed to survive (though not exactly flourish) since their founding in Manchester, England in 1747. The Shakers are and were (at least that's what the ads say) a celibate male/female community. Also, an all male community would not necessarily imply celibacy (deja vu the "monogamy" discussion). Instead of celibacy, I should have used a word for a single-sexed society (a la Amazons), but I can't think of a word for that. Is there one?
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Ken G - February 28, 2002
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed May 26, 2004 11:46 am

Sorry for my ranting (I deserve a dope slap for this one), but now that I think of it "homosexual" would do a pretty good job.
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Ken G - February 28, 2002
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Post by Archived Reply » Wed May 26, 2004 12:01 pm

Thanks, Ken. Despite the "ranting," you gave a good answer.

Lois Martin, Birmingham, AL, USA
Feb. 28, 2002
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