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The World. The names of capitals – a long time ago and now

Адміністративна карта світу

As you know, the sound of the word "Kyiv" in different languages differs a little. But each of the capital fortunate as ours? Unfortunately no. The most common misinterpretation of names of cities was contributed by specific language selfishness - it is better to change in their own way than call correctly. Besides, the spelling varied. If the Russian spelling during the Soviet period was changed twice - 1918 and 1956, the Ukrainian during this time - up 6 times! This is reflected especially in spelling of foreign geographical names, including names of capitals. We will trace how some of them have changed. Although according with the Ukrainian norms of spelling, doubling of consonants in the proper names kept - eg., The Netherlands, Morocco, Lisbon (as, incidentally, and Russia) in this case somehow remained the exception. So it was written sometimes with the one letter -c-, then with two letters. Such authoritative publication as "Ukrainian Soviet Encyclopedia" 1960 gives the name of the Portuguese capital with one letter (c). According to modern spelling (1990, final version 1993) the norm is doubling. We hope it will forever. The name of the Spanish capital also a long time "fell" from the accepted norms of the Ukrainian language, as written with the - i - : Madrid while in all other geographical names traditionally after letter – r – was used - и -: Paris, Rome, Riga. In the the new spelling this contrariety was eliminated. Besides, this is also convenient for the Russian-speaking population, because now Madrid - as, well as, Algeria and Washington spelled the same as in Russian.

As for Rome - a separate question. In the name of the capital of Italy, in fact there is no sound - i – and never has been as well as the letter - и -. The original name of this town sounds like Roma. However, we will not admit this adaptation, because it is similar to "reduced" male name. And in general many famous Italian cities have “no luck” we call them wrong, for example: Naples (and should Na'poli), Genoa (instead Dzheno'va) and others. Probably it will remain.

Perhaps, the name of the capital of Denmark was altered the most among Western European capitals. We pronounce Copenhagen and original language - Kobenhavn. Incidentally, the second part of the word - "havn" - means "harbor”. In fact, no "Hagen" there. Not always the same sounded the name of the capital of Finland. Once, during the Swedish and then Russian domination, this city was called Helsingfors. When Finland became independent, its capital officially received the name of Helsinki. Now, according with the new version of the spelling, normal writing is Helsinki. Although in principle the Latin letter H can be transmitted both through - Г -, , and through - X -, by means of our language. It should be referred to the question of spelling of capital’s names countries, which were republics of the Soviet Union, now it is called "near abroad." The capitals of Armenia and Georgia - Tbilisi and Yerevan, while a part of the Russian Empire, were called Erivan, Tiflis. In the early history of the Soviet period its names have been corrected. Here is the name of the capital of Azerbaijan (original language – Baki) in most languages of the world left Baku. Perhaps, because to Russian speakers (and Western) articulation to utter kы difficult or impossible.

In the Soviet Union there was a certain difference: the language of "international communication" - in Russian - the names of some republics were written not as its native languages. It concerns to the capital’s names. For example, Estonians only in 1989 have attained that the name of their capital passed not only with double letters - l -, but with two - n – Tallinn. Now it is also refer to the Ukrainian spelling. Another thing – who could pronounce like that? Although the name of the former capital of Kazakhstan consists of two words Alma-Ata, which translated as "father of apples", but according to the rules of Kazakh grammar, it in the Soviet times and now has been written as Almaty. By Slavic languages it was pronounced in such way only on the verge of the 1980s and 1990s., before the collapse of the USSR.

Now the name of the capital of Turkmenistan does not sound as Ashgabat for us, but Ashgabat. Although, as already was mentioned, g and h sounds, especially in those languages, which are quite distant from our own, can be changed. In this case, we think it does not matter. But we should respect the opinions of Turkmens - if they wish so, it would be Ashgabad. By the way, if keep to the each native language speakers spell, Tashkent ought to be written with the letter - o - Toshkent, because it is adopted in Uzbekistan. But this has not been reached.

A similar story with the name of the capital of Moldova. Anyone who grew up in Union, was known name in Russian transcription - Chisinau (Kishinev Ukrainian version). However, since the late 1980s. and especially after the collapse of the USSR, Moldovans insist that the name Chisinau always sound in the media in that way – like it sound in their language. Finally we will talk about the names of two territorial major countries - Russia and China. It seems to be really hard to say the word Moscva ? And how only its pronounce is differ: the British - Moscow, French - Moscov (read Moscu '), Germans – Moskay. Why so? It turns out, that to the Western Europeans is hard to say three consonants in a row. For us it is strange, but it’s true.

If we tell to the Chinese, who has not studied European languages, the word Peking, he will not understand us, because such name is not exist in the Chinese language. So how they call their capital? In fact - Beijing (in some dialects Beypin). This word consists of two parts and in translation means "northern capital". The name Peking was made up by the European travelers in the Middle Ages not to speak specifically Chinese sound combination “thz”. Now, we remove in the map to the south of China. There is Burma, which is now often called Myanmar. The inhabitants of this country have always called their capital Yangon, but it was known since the days of British rule version of Rangoon. Now the name of Yangon is generally accepted, but as the world gets used to it gradually, in some maps the names Rangoon and Yangon coexist.

In conclusion, it must be said that our ancestors because of their lack of knowledge or negligence made in proper names many mistakes. For example, the name of the former Turkish capital apparently was borrowed orally, because for all Slavs it sounds Stambul, and original language - Istanbul. Probably someone failed to hear. So we must be vigilant and careful not to make some new mistakes that will be difficult to correct later.

Author I.O.Sokol, senior lecturer of Ukrainian language, literature and culture department.


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