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ESL forum > Ask for help > Christopher Columbus    

Christopher Columbus


Christopher Columbus
Yesterday, I was about to give this lesson about Christopher Columbus when a student of mine started complaining ( but really complianing) about the name " Christopher Columbus" . What he said is that proper names shouldn ´t be translated, something which I agree, so he wanted to know and, in fact, he demanded an explanation of why in the book we were using Colon ´s name was in English. It took me by surprise because I ´d never thought of it before, and on the spur of the moment, I didn ´ t know what to say.
I need you opinion because I ´d like to give some kind of explanation to my student. What is your opinion? 

27 Aug 2009      


Christopher Columbus is not the only case in which this occurs. There are many other such as Henry, Edward, Charles, Jesus Christ, etc.
In my opinion this happens because these people are not just "people" and they are important to world history so each country decided to find the equivalent in its own language.
This doen ´t occur with common people ´s names.
I don ´t really know how convincing my answer is but at least it ´s something...

27 Aug 2009     


Perhaps you should tell him / her that in fact "Cristóbal Colón" is a Spanish version of this great man ´s name, because his real one was Cristoforo Colombo.  I ´ve noticed that my students also complain about things that happen in the English language while we tend to do the same things!!!


27 Aug 2009     


I agree with Carina ´s idea. Smile

Also the "not translating proper names" idea hasn ´t always been that way. If you look at old books EVERYTHING used to be translated. I have "root beer" translated in one book as "cerveza de jengibre" .. took me forever to get what they were getting at.... I was like "they make beer out of that? Where? I ´ve never heard of such a thing.." - Til it dawned on me what the publisher had done... hahaha...


27 Aug 2009     


I agree with Carina. Cristobal Colón is a translation. I live in the part of Spain he left from and have seen his signature. Your student should google him to get the nanme he went by.

27 Aug 2009     

erika uy

We all agree, but it is not about opinions, as every languague English has its rules and if we happen to use names as we desire we won´t be teching English.
You can search for a explanation in books such as Michael Swan.  greetings from uruguay

27 Aug 2009     


Each language has its own sound system and when a word is imported from another language it is often seen as logical to adapt it to suit the sound system of the language into which it is borrowed. This makes it easier for the people in the ´borrowed ´ language to understand it.
Think about news readers - if a Native English speaker had to pronounce Cristóbal Colón correctly they probably wouldn ´t be able to do it correctly: the vowel combinations and stress patterns in the original langauge might be totally different from English.
If you are interested you can read more about it (from an Australian perspective) here: http://www.abc.net.au/corp/pubs/iabc/stories/s635159.htm

28 Aug 2009