Exonym / Endonym
Just a quick bit of lexicon this morning:
Exonym [Greek – ἔξω, éxō, “out” + ὄνομα, ónoma, “name”]
An exonym is a name referring to an ethnic group (ethnonym), language (glossonym), place (toponym), or person that is used by people outside said group. The United Nations defines exonym as the name used in a specific language for a geographical feature situated outside the area where that language is spoken, and differing in its form from the name used in an official or well-established language of that area where the geographical feature is located.
Endonym [Greek – ἔνδον, éndon, “within” + ὄνομα, ónoma, “name”]
An endonym is a name referring to an ethnic group (ethnonym), language (glossonym), place (toponym), or person that is used by people inside of said group. The United Nations defines endonym as the name of a geographical feature in an official or well-established language occurring in that area where the feature is located.
Here are some examples of exonyms with their endonymic counterparts in English and their native languages:
China/Zhōngguó (中国), Dutch/Nederlands [ˈneːdərlɑnts], Greece/Hellas (Ελλάς), Germany/Deutschland, Gypsy/Romani, Moscow/Moskva (Москва), Japan/Nihon/Nippon (日本).
This phenomenon is not, unique to English:
Korea is referred to differently, depending on which Korea is doing the talking. North Korea refers to “Korea” as Chosŏn (조선), but South Korea refers to it as Hanguk (한국) or Namhan (남한, 南韓 – “South Han”). The official Korean name for the Republic of Korea is “Dae Han Minguk” (대한민국 – “The Republic of Korea”). (There are other variations, but you get the picture.)
America is called beikoku (米国) in Japanese and the English language is called eigo (英語). In China, America is called měiguó (美国) and the English language is yīngyǔ (英语).
Many exonyms were born as a result of the namer not understanding the namee’s language. In Russian and other languages, for example, the word for “Germans” is Немцы (Nemtsy), which is derived from the word немой which means “mute.” The accepted folk etymology is that the German language appeared so unintelligible to the Slavs that they dubbed them “mutes.”
In addition to Russian, this word is also used in the Arabic, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Hungarian, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Polish, Romanian, Turkish, and Ukranian languages. (Interestingly, a theory regarding the word “Slavic” suggests that it comes from slovo, meaning “word.” This, again, differentiates between those with words and those without.)
Sioux is likely a shortened form of Nadouessioux, a proto-Algonquian word meaning “foreign-speaking.” Berber comes from a Greek representation of gibberish (“bar-bar-bar”). The list goes on and on.
Do you know any exonym/endonym combinations? Please leave a comment and share them with us.