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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"Turin" vs. "Torino"

My poor friend Paul. We're about to enter into a period of true hell for him. You see, one of his biggest pet peeves is when people, especially newscasters, say "Torino" rather than "Turin" - the English version of the city name. He was moaning and groaning about this months ago and well, he's about to hear it a whole lot more often in the coming two months...

Paul has some allies -- Jeanne Cooper, the travel editor of The San Francisco Chronicle -- states her case against "Torino" in a recent column entitled, "You say Torino, I say Turin, let's call the whole thing off." Here are some of her key points:

  • My point is that when we're speaking English, it makes sense to do it whole hog. We don't say "The Colosseum is in Roma," or "Michelangelo's David is in Firenze," or "Gee, there are a lot of tourists in Venezia." So why make an exception for Turin?
  • When sportswriters talk about "Torino," it may signify nothing more than affectation, or ignorance of the city's long existence before the Olympics. But I fear that with Americans' love of figure skating, they'll hear or read "Torino" often enough to start spreading the ignorance around.
  • My Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition, has a separate section for geographical names, where it lists "Turin" as the first choice, and "Torino" (marked It, for Italian) as the second. Shouldn't that be enough?

So Paul, rest assured that you are not alone, but I fear you and Ms. Cooper are facing an uphill battle.


Blogger Craig said...

However, usage does change over time, and gradually, American English (at least) has come to adopt many, many names, that only a few generations back would have been unheard of.

Americans today don't speak of Leghorn, Mayence, Angora, Adrianople, Constantinople, Ratisbon, Reval, Brunswick, nor Danzig, except in maybe in history classes, and you won't find any of these cities on modern US world maps, where they are replaced with Livorno, Mainz, Ankara, Edirne, Istanbul, Regensburg, Tallinn, Braunschweig, and Gdansk.

Major cities don't get naming makeovers in English very often, but no one should be surprised how easily smaller cities can be redubbed in the press and how flexible Americans who are rather

9:12 PM  
Blogger petetow said...

I love Italy it is a great place I bought a Calabria property in Southern Spain and I love it there.

5:30 AM  

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