An editor emailed me: a monastery guide I translated contained several references to Mainz. Should it be Mayence or Mainz in English? (I think this query must come from the monastery).
Mayence is out of date. I have read it from an English technical translator. The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors, for example, says not to use it (whereas it permits Brunswick as an English form, which I find dubious). Google search in UK sites only gives Mainz 11,600 and Mayence 131 (not all hits are my situation – some are company names and addresses in Germany).

But some place names are less certain.

We use: Munich, Cologne, Saxony, Thuringia, North-Rhine-Westphalia, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Bavaria, Rhineland-Palatinate, Rhine, Baltic Sea, Lake Constance, Black Forest
We don’t use: Aix-la-Chapelle, Brunswick, Mayence, Ratisbon
I have stopped using: Hanover (except for the dynasty: then, it should be used), Hesse; I sometimes use Nürnberg, sometimes Nuremberg.

I’m bound to have forgotten something.

I would like to recommend the monastery, however. I haven’t even been there but I like the sound of the wine tours where six different wines are placed in six different parts of the monastery.

bq. Offene Schlenderweinprobe
Preis: EUR 20,00 je Teilnehmer
Leistung: Eintritt, fachkundige Gästeführung, Klosterrundgang, unterwegs Verkostung 6 ausgesuchter Weine an 6 verschiednen Orten im Kloster

12 thoughts on “Mayence

  1. Nice list — the only other thing that comes to mind is Kleve/Cleve(s), and there’s not much occasion to refer to that. (I had thought Mayence was a purely French form, by the way.)

    Of course, Switzerland is another minefield: Bern or Berne? Basle or Basel? And how did Geneva with its own English form, used by none of the locals? I love this sort of thing.

  2. We don’t use Brunswick? Why not? What else would one call it?

    You left out Prussia and Silesia, but I suppose that’s history now.
    And of couse we say Alsace, not Elsaß, but again, that’s history…

    We use Danube, not Donau.

    What about Franconia? That’s Franken auf Deutsch, no?

  3. I tend to forget which side of the border Kleve is on – that’s a good one. I know a translator who is trying to prepare a glossary of German place-names in Europe – too big a task, I think, but I did find him a 1941 Volksatlas (wonderful book). I then picked up an Austrian book on the translation of proper names – not as simple an issue as I’d thought. Remember a customer coming back for a new translation after the U.S. authorities refused to accept that Cluj was correct for Klausenburg (Transylvania).
    I found a Wiki entry rejecting Frisia but insisting on Hamelin…

  4. @shamrockshire.eagle: Well, I don’t use Brunswick but Braunschweig. I think Brunswick is outdated but obviously not everybody does. The Oxford Dictionary for Writers says Braunschweig is the German form and Brunswick is the English form. If you try to decide how usage is going on these matters, it’s hard to find evidence because atlases now usually give the local names.
    Yes, right, Danube, Prussia, Franconia (fancy me forgetting that). As for Alsace, well, of course, we could add French and Swiss and Austrian names too. Vierwaldstättersee is Lake Lucerne and so on.

  5. “the translation of proper names – not as simple an issue as I’d thought”

    *nods sympathetically*

    “refused to accept that Cluj was correct for Klausenburg”

    Transylvania is the happy hunting ground of confusing nomenclature. One of my best moments as a map-collector was finding a map (Erdély/Ardeal/Siebenbürgen/Transylvania, Budapest 1991) of the region that has Romanian, Hungarian, and German names for every town, river, and other feature. It’s easy to find the alternate names of Cluj and Sibiu, but where else will you learn that the tiny town Mesentea is Kismindszent in Hungarian?

  6. Let’s not forget that generations of children back in the UK – and Eng.-speaking children elsewhere – learn about the Pied Piper of Hamelin and not the Rat-Catcher of Hameln outside Han(n)over. Also, Eng. history books describe one of Henry VIII’s wife as Anne of Cleves and not von Kleven, beloved enough to keep her head.
    We’d also like to travel down to Carinthia where bilingual Slovenian-German roadsigns have gone from a local legal dispute to a national political issue.

  7. Keeping within the boundaries of Germany was intended to restrict the details and emphasize the problem: when does something change? Hamel(i)n is a borderline case, but it has to be, as you say, The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Same goes for the Treaty of Ratisbon. And the Hanover Dynasty (as stated).

    Has the roadsigns question in Carinthia blown up again? I seem to associate it with last year, but I have no idea what the present situation is.

    Cleves we have (see comments). I also remembered Swabia, following Franconia (see comment). I have a vague feeling about Hel(i)goland. Can’t think of any more in Germany. As the Shamrockshire Eagle says, one could extend Germany’s borders historically. Then you get the problem that Breslau was called Breslau in English at certain times and not at others, but always called Breslau in Germany. And so on…

  8. Yes. I was referring back to the Cleves posting, though it may not have looked like it.
    Heligoland is a good one. There used to be an ancient territorial dispute between Germany and the UK over the island/ Gibraltar-like rock that’s passed hands back and forth.
    I appreciate confining place names to Germany so ‘won’t mention’ Styrian-born Arnie.
    Best not mention Breslau to a Pole. It’s Wroclaw and nothing else.
    The plethora of Sorbian (not Serbian)/ Wendish and Polish double place-names along the Oder-Neisse border between Germany and Poland are another story.

  9. You are unfair to Breslau’s past. It may have been almost exclusively Polish for fifty years, but for centuries before that it wasn’t. I’ve been reading the book ‘Microcosm. Portrait of a Central European City’ by Norman Davies and Roger Moorhouse, which you may know – the name is avoided, because ‘A History of Wroclaw’ or ‘A History of Breslau’ would be one-sided, and ‘A History of Vratislavia – Breslau – Wroclaw’ clumsy.

    I can’t think of Styrian-born Arnie without thinking of Greek-born Arianna…

  10. It’s not me whö’s unfair! Breslau is the only place name I mention to Breslauers of German origin whose long-established families were kicked out of the city at the end of the 2nd World War and who have Poles living in their former homes.
    I tread the minefield warily: Zielona Gora, Bydgoscsz, Gdansk and Lodz to Poles; Grünberg, Bromberg, Danzig and Littmannstadt to Germans. In mixed company, I use both place names – or ask what version I should use.
    Arnie’s got a bit of a language problem running for Governor of California. Not only is his English suspect. In Vienna there’s a joke that he can’t even speak German.

  11. OK. I did not know Litzmannstadt for many years since someone whose father came from there told me there was no German form – after all, there’s a German folksong that goes something like ‘Hei-Ja, wir fahr’n nach Lodz!’ (Litzmannstadt would not fit well in the rhythm, would it).

    I have not heard too much of Arnie in English and none at all in German. But no doubt this is soon to change.

  12. I have received a plea for help from SwissM which runs as follows: hi dear nerd can you find out for me (if it’s not only no bother but positively a pleasure) when BASEL was spelled BASLE? my contention is…

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