I'm confused about written proper names. Some are spelled just as in English (eg. Iceland) and some look more like Vietnamese (Ai-xơ-len). Which spelling is official? Or which is put on your maps? Could you explain this?
The barbaric syllables-with-hyphens-in-between method is preferred in the North. Government folks up there spent most of their lives as peasants with no proper education; they suck at English, French, Russian and everything else. So they phonetically interpret foreign names using sloppy pronunciation, break them into syllables and join syllables with hyphens. Ugh.
Proper names should be done either:1./ The international (read: English) way.
Most proper names are imported from English. But, if a place has several internationally recognized names, remember to choose the French one. Example: Vietnamese know La Haye
, but not The Hague
or Den Haag
.2./ The traditional way.
There are some names that have been traditionally filtered through Chinese:
USA - Hoa Kỳ / Mỹ
Australia - Úc
England / Great Britain - Anh
~ London - Luân Đôn
Ireland - Ái Nhĩ Lan
France - Pháp
Italy - Ý
Spain - Tây Ban Nha
Portugal - Bồ Đào Nha
Germany - Đức
Switzerland - Thụy Sĩ
(frequently confused with Sweden)
Austria - Áo
Russia - Nga
Poland - Ba Lan
Finland - Phần Lan
Sweden - Thụy Điển
(frequently confused with Switzerland
Denmark - Đan Mạch
Norway - Na Uy
Greece - Hy Lạp
Turkey - Thổ Nhĩ Kỳ
Egypt - Ai Cập
Arab - Ả Rập / A Rập
(There are also obsolete ones, like Ca Nã Đại for Canada, Hoa Thịnh Đốn for Washington DC, Bá Linh for Berlin, Ba Lê for Paris or Hạ Uy Di for Hawaii. Those are completely dead now. Some are near-dead, like Mạc Tư Khoa for Moscow.)
East Asian countries (Mongolia included) all use their respective Chinese names. Elsewhere, which method to use depends on what country we're talking about. Civilizations documented in medieval Chinese literature keep their Chinese names: India is given a Chinese name - Ấn Độ
, while Pakistan and Bangladesh are not.
City and province names are largely international. The exceptions are Chinese and North Korean geographical names, which are from Chinese characters. (Therefore, we Vietnamese call North Korea's capital Bình Nhưỡng
but its counterpart in South Korea Seoul
, despite the two names coming from one same Korean language.)
Two oddballs: Cambodia - Campuchia
and Laos - Lào
. My 2 cents is they come directly from the native names. They're right next to Vietnam, so that's no wonder.3./ The French-ish way.
Some countries have their names altered under the influence of a French heritage, notably Morroco - Ma Rốc
, from French Maroc
The suffix -ia
seen in English names is habitually replaced by its French cognate -ie
, which is in turn usually Vietised into -i
- wholly FrenchSomali
<---- Fr. Somalie, instead of En. SomaliaRumany
<---- Fr. Roumanie, instead of En. Romania
Lithuania has somehow become Litva
, I don't know why the hell that is or whether it's because of French.