Palace, hall, Schloß, Palais, manor, castle

My career as a translator of guides to buildings in Central Europe started ignominiously when I gave in to the resident of Schloß Leitheim, who insisted it was Leitheim Castle.

Others calls it Leitheim Palace, but are they right? Would Chateau Leitheim work? Schloss works, but I think of the American who asked the way to the Schlob in Heidelberg (surely a castle). The spelling reform has put an end to that for future purposes.

At all events, the French baron, sometime member of the Upper House of the Parliament of China and breeder of hounds and academic, Professor Jean Christophe Iseux von Pfetten has spent millions on buying and restoring Apethorpe Hall, a building with a past as varied as his, but some are a bit sniffy about his renaming it Apethorpe Palace.

The Independent article has a photo of Baron von Pfetten with his hounds. It’s a hall, not a palace: French baron defies etiquette by renaming his British stately home

Andrew Triggs, an amateur architectural historian and editor of the BISH (British & Irish Stately Homes) blog, said: “I am not convinced that Apethorpe’s history warrants it being named a palace just because it was visited once by Elizabeth I when she owned it. Osborne House, managed by English Heritage, was owned and built by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who visited many more times, but is not called a palace, so it seems inconsistent.

Andrew Triggs also tweeted on the subject. He blogs at British and Irish Stately Homes.

Here’s the name change on the English Heritage site.

It seems a bit odd to me to call it a palace, but so does the article’s mention of ‘tacit agreement’. What does the OED say?

1 a. An official residence or former residence of an emperor, king, pope, or other ruler; (also) an official residence of a member of a ruler’s family.
c1300 (▸?c1225) King Horn (Cambr.) (1901) 1256 (MED), Horn him ȝede with his To þe kinges palais [v.r. paleyse].
a1375 William of Palerne (1867) 1390 (MED), Þ his palays come.
c1400 (▸a1376) Langland Piers Plowman (Trin. Cambr. R.3.14) (1960) A. ii. 18 (MED), In þe popis paleis heo is preuy as myselue.
1469 in E. W. W. Veale Great Red Bk. Bristol (1938) II. 133 (MED), Yeven vnder oure Signet at oure Palois of Westminster.
a1500 (▸?c1400) Sir Triamour (Cambr.) (1937) 488 The hounde..Ranne to the kyngys palays.
c1550 Complaynt Scotl. (1979) vi. 33 Lyik as plutois paleis hed been birnand.
1555 R. Eden tr. Peter Martyr of Angleria Decades of Newe Worlde f. 259v, The dukes pallaice.
1614 in Bannatyne Misc. (1855) III. 210 Efter the sight of the parke and palice..[they] came to Bruntiland.
a1678 A. Marvell Fleckno in Misc. Poems (1681) 57, I whom the Pallace never has deny’d Will make the way here.
1768 Acct. Denmark 94 The royal palace of a handsome structure in the semi Gothic taste.
1792 in Columbia Hist. Soc. Rec. (1913) 16 130 The President..with the Commissioners examined the several plans for the Capitol and the Palace.
1821 T. Jefferson Autobiogr. in Writings (1984) 92 The King..was conducted by a garde bourgeoise to his palace at Versailles.
1853 J. Ruskin Stones of Venice II. vii. 233 The Ducal Palace stands comparatively alone.
1910 Encycl. Brit. I. 172/2 The ruins of Diocletian’s palace at Spalato in Dalmatia.
1990 Voice of Arab World Dec. 25 11 The meetings took place in the bunker in the Presidential Palace on Habib Square, Baghdad.

It looks as if the residences of a Roman emperor and an Arab President have also been called palaces.

For a view from a translator with more backbone, see fucked translation.

6 thoughts on “Palace, hall, Schloß, Palais, manor, castle

  1. So what is your suggestion, based on your opinion and additional experience today for translating your average German Schloss vor indeed something Mike Schloss Leitheim?

  2. I was afraid someone would ask that! I suspect there’s a long answer. The short one is that it depends on the building. A castle is a fortified building so I have no problem with Heidelberg Castle. Schloss Leitheim was a summer residence and I suppose I would prefer to leave it as Schloss and work in a description in the text, because terms like manor house or hall don’t quite work.I would need to give more specific examples, and I’m sure some are odder, like Neuschwanstein.

    Then these small guides I used to translate were ones where the person who commissioned the guide also paid for the translation and so you could suggest things but not insist on them – in the last instance permit the translation to be used without the translator’s name on it, but that would be going rather far on the basis of one word. I can’t imagine having been able to avoid Leitheim Castle at that time.

    There are also plenty of books about Germany in English to find ideas. I see online that the Eyewitness guide from Dorling Kindersley has Leitheim Palace!

  3. Surely the Schloß or slob part is often left out in translation, as you have done: Neuschwanstein in Bavaria or Schönbrunn in Vienna, whilst Schönbrunn Palace is the common official title.

    Closer to home in Surrey, Henry VIII had – in Ewell – a hunting adjunct to Hampton Court Palace and called Nonsuch Palace (Schloß), a later, smaller-scale monument and memorial to the latter post-demolition and less than a mile (or kilometer) away being dubbed Nonsuch Mansion (Herrenhaus and another term to throw into the aristocratic mix).

    As for hall vs. palace, I recollect from a conference dinner there that Westminster Hall is inside Werstminster Palace.

    Adding estate to the mix, I would round off with a recent ‘Vertrags-Grund-besitz’ spat with a German into English translator-cum-interpreter who thinks a registered ‘estate’ in land and an ‘estate’ contract denote interests in a sprawling, regal tract of land with adjoining farm and forest, rather than an option e.g. to buy a car garage or broom cupboard.

  4. Well, you can say in conversation ‘I’m going to Neuschwanstein tomorrow’, but in a guide, it always has its full name, which I just left out to avoid deciding. In fact it’s usually Neuschwanstein Castle, which I suppose is OK, and obviously Schönbrunn is a palace, but it’s the ones that aren’t either that are a problem. Mansion is worth considering, but possibly too small.

  5. Yes. I take your tour-guide point re Neuschwanstein. Problem with Schloß Schönbrunn is that there are several, discrete (separate, not low-key) parts to it, to wit: ‘we are going to Schönbrunn’ could also mean to the ancient Tiergarten/ Zoo within the grounds or the Orangerie for evening concerts. Schloß Charlottenburg would, I agree, need to be spelled/spelt out in case of a mix-up with the district of Berlin.

  6. Pingback: Transformative translation: Schloss – London's Singing Organ-Grinder

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