What do different languages ​​mean

The term “German” in other languages: Why the world doesn't know what that is supposed to mean

France is called France in English, Frankrike in Swedish, Francia in Italian, Frantsiya in Russian. The original term is easy to recognize in all foreign languages.

England means Engeland in Dutch, Angleterre in French, Inghilterra in Italian and Anglia in Polish. Here too: the name remains essentially the same.

Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye) is called Turquia in Portuguese, Tyrkiet in Danish and Turecko in Czech. Here too: The original term is adopted in the other language in a slightly modified form.

German is German - but only in Northern Europe

Isn't it normal, you think? We are taking over the original country name because after all we can't just invent a new one? Then go to Germany.

Germany is called Duitsland in Dutch and Tyskland in Danish, Swedish and Norwegian. The linguistically related northern European countries seem to confirm the rule: the proper name is adopted in a modified form.

Why Germany is not called Dutchland

But English is also linguistically related to German. But Germany is called Germany in English - and not, as one might assume, Dutchland. Because the English have reserved dutch for the Dutch since the 17th century. To designate the eastern neighbors of the coastal “Germans”, they had to fall back on the Latin Germania. The Romans have had this term since around 200 BC. Used as a collective name for the tribes on the right bank of the Rhine; its origin is unclear. Many later peoples of Europe adopted the word: Russians, Bulgarians, Greeks, Italians.

Welcome to Volksland

The Italians use Germania to refer to the country, but not the people. They are called tedeschi (singular tedesco). This designation goes back to the Old High German word diutisc, which means “belonging to the people” (from Old High German diot for people). The earliest documented form of this word (thiota) can be found in the Gothic translation of the Bible by Bishop Wulfila from the 4th century. It was also written with an initial th- (like English thing) and shows that they actually lisped, the early Germans.

The capital of Volksland is called Swamp City

Germany literally means people's country. If you want to have fun and get to know the etymological original names of different European countries, cities and rivers, take a look at the atlas of true names. Here you can travel from the Merry Sea Bay (Lisbon) via Weiden (Madrid) to the capital of Volksland, which goes by the unhealthy-sounding name of Swamp City (Berlin). All that's missing is the Shire and Middle-earth - and you could think you're in "The Lord of the Rings".

All men: neighbors of the free

But back to the Italians: For them, the Germans are people's countries from Germania. The name of the people and the country are strangely different. What one cannot say about French: Allemagne is the name of the country, Allemands is the people. Designation of Origin No. 3.

In late antiquity, the West Germanic Alemanni people were the immediate eastern neighbors of the Romansh-speaking Gauls. The name itself appears in the 3rd century and probably means all (able-bodied) men. The later French (translated by the way, The Free, Courageous) then transferred the name to all Germanic-speaking neighboring peoples.

With the Slavs, the Germans are the mute

That's it? No, that's not it yet. If we travel east from Germany, we come to Poland. There the country - like the people - is suddenly called Niemcy. The German is called Némez in Russian, Némec in Czech and Német in Hungarian. Clearly the same root in all of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe: Welcome, Denomination of Origin No. 4.

It is believed that the name comes from an ancient Slavic word that means "stranger" and in turn goes back to an adjective for "mute". The word originally referred to foreign speakers who could not communicate with the Slavs, and was later narrowed to the Germans.

French export offensive

Thus the term developed in exactly the opposite direction as Allemagne: While the Slavs narrowed down a general term, the French expanded a special term. With worldwide success: the French stem was adopted into Spanish and Portuguese - and from there exported to South America and the Middle East. Germany is called Almāniyā in Arabic, Almanya in Turkish and Ālmān in Persian.

From Saxony and Pickelhauben

But now we are finally done with the many terms for "German", right? Nearly. In Finnish and Estonian, the German is called Saksa. Unmistakably another German tribe was the godfather here - one that was closer to Northeastern Europe. The name "Saxony" goes back to the sax, a single-edged short sword. It's hard to believe, but in Helsinki we are sword-bearers. Designation No. 5.

We hold on: The world does not agree on who the Germans actually are. They are people's countries, Teutons, all men, sword-bearers, mutes. And pimple hoods.

Excuse me - pimple hoods? A fist held to the forehead and pointing upwards with one finger means Germany or German in sign language. Designation No. 6. We could still talk about Latvian, Lithuanian, Navajo and Kirundi ... But now:

Enough.