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.



Niemals – Farin Urlaub Racing Team

As I mentioned in Learning Languages Tip #1, watching videos can be a great way to supplement your language learning experience.  Here’s one of my favorites from a German band called “Farin Urlaub Racing Team.”  The song is “Niemals (Nothing).”  Both the original German lyrics and an English translation are below the video.  Enjoy!


Ich wünsch mir, dass ich dich vergessen kann,
Ich würd dich gerne einfach ignorieren.
Ich bin mir sicher, irgendwann,
Wird das auch einfach über Nacht passieren.
Bis dahin wird einige Zeit vergehen,
Bis dahin muss ich noch geduldig warten.
Ich werd versuchen dich nicht anzusehen,
Weil meine Blicke mich verraten.

Doch mir ist klar,
Dass da niemals etwas sein wird,
Weil da niemals etwas war.

Vielleicht liegts daran,
Dass ich zu oft allein war,
Als ich klein war.
Oder dass mein Vater gemein war.
Nein, dass soll keine Verteidigung sein,
Ich wüsste nur selber gern,
Woran es eigentlich liegt,
Dass ich auf Wolken geh,
Wenn ich dich seh.
Mein Kopf ist JWD,
Und es tut mir weh,
Dass du nicht weißt,
Wie es in mir aussieht.

Ich lege dir mein Herz zu Füßen,
Was soll ich noch damit,
Bitte tritt es nicht kaputt,
Es litt bereits genug.

Mir ist klar,
Dass da niemals etwas sein wird,
Weil da niemals etwas war.

Du sagst du willst nichts von mir,
Ich träume trotzdem von dir,
Was ich nicht habe,
Kann ich auch nicht verlieren.
Du sagst es hat keinen Sinn,
Wenn wir zwei etwas beginnen,
Zu spät, denn ich steck mittendrin.

Die Zeit vergeht langsam,
Es vergeht kein Tag,
An dem ich nicht an dich denke,
Mit jedem Herzschlag.
Es vergeht kein Tag,
Es vergeht keine Stunde,
Ich denk jetzt an dich,
Jetzt, in dieser Sekunde.
Und immer und ständig,
Bei Tag und bei Nacht,
Was ist bloß mit mir los,
Was hast du mit mir gemacht?

Mir ist klar,
Dass da niemals etwas sein wird,
Weil da niemals etwas war.


I wish that I’m able to forget you,
I’d simply like to ignore you.
I’m sure, some time
This will simply happen overnight.
Until then some time will pass,
Until then I still have to wait patiently.
I’ll try not to look at you,
’cause my glances will betray me.

But I’m aware of it
That there will never be anything,
’cause there was never anything.

Maybe it depends on the fact
That I was too often alone
When I was a child.
Or that my father was mean.
No, that shall not be any defense,
I’d like to know myself,
What actually the reason is
That I have my head in the clouds,
Whenever I see you
My mind is far away,
And it aches
That you don’t know
How it’s like within me.

I lie my heart down at your feet,
What else shall I do with it,
Please don’t tread on it to smash it,
It had been already suffering enough.

I’m aware of it
That there will never be anything,
’cause there was never anything.

You tell me that you don’t want anything from me,
Nevertheless I dream of you,
What I don’t have,
I also cannot lose.
You say that it makes no sense,
If the two of us have an affair,
Too late, ’cause I’m right in the middle of it.

Time is passing slowly,
No day is passing,
On which I’m not thinking of you,
With every heartbeat.
No day is passing,
No hour is passing,
I’m thinking of you now,
Now, in the very second.
Always and permanently,
By day and by night,
What’s going on with me,
What have you done to me?

I’m aware of it
That there will never be anything,
’cause there was never anything.

[Lyrics courtesy of http://lyricstranslate.com]


I’ve decided to share interesting (to me) foreign words for which there are no real concise equivalents in English.  I’m doing this mostly for my own entertainment, but if you know of an interesting or amusing word in another language, and think the rest of us should know it too, please don’t hesitate to contact me. For Japanese words, please see my nihongo à gogo site.

And now, on with the show:

Backpfeifengesichta face that begs to be smacked