Exonym and endonym

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Exonym and endonym are two terms used in ethnolinguistics and name research to distinguish between local names, for example for places, languages, people and groups of people and names that are used for them in other languages.


An endonym ( Old Gr . Ἔνδον éndon "inside" and ὄνυμα ónyma "name") is the name that is used in the area in which the designated object is located. Usually there is an official name. So that Endonym for foreigners is readable, it is in the writing system of other languages transferred , for German speakers, for example, in the Latin script.

The International Standing Committee on Geographical Names recommends that only official endonymic name forms be used for geographical names in the territory of foreign states. Only German and French umlauts are used, but no other diacritical marks .

Examples of endonymic forms of names for geographical objects outside the German-speaking area for the German language are Mumbai , Praha (German Prague), Moskwa (German Moscow). An example of a group of people is the term " Patagonian ".


An exonym ( old Gr . Ἔξω éxō "outside" and ὄνυμα ónyma "name") is a place name ( toponym ) in the naming ( toponomics ) that is common or customary in a place other than the one designated with it. This term is also carried over to personal names.

Exonyms have the advantage that they are easier to pronounce in the respective language and - where necessary - can be inflected (for example Scala in Milan instead of “Scala of Milano”) and at the same time do justice to the cultural and historical reference in the language area concerned.

Exonyms are a natural part of any language . How many there are, however, varies greatly and has mainly to do with the following components:

  • social contacts
  • common history
  • Language history : The pronunciation of a place name can change over time
    • in the source language, while the original pronunciation is retained in the target language, cf. Old Czech Pra g a > German Pra g (Neutschech. Pra h a ); old french. Paris (pronounced: [pa'ris])> German Paris (but new French = [pa'ʁi] without -s )
    • in the target language, while there is no change in the source language, cf. Middle High German = Swiss German Schwyz (as place, canton and country name)> later Middle High German Switzerland ( diphthongization )
  • phonetic compatibility between source and target language:
    • on the level of the individual sounds, i.e. the individual sounds of a relevant toponym are not available in the target language and must be replaced by a suitable, similar sound, cf. Spanish Madrid (pronounced = [ma'ðrið])> German Madrid (pronounced = [ma'dʀɪt])
    • on the level of phonotactics (connections of individual sounds), cf. German Switzerland > finn. Sveitsi (pronounced = ['svejtsi]), i.e. with the replacement of the <sch> (= [ʃ]) unknown in Finnish by <s> (= [s]) and by the vowel -i at the end of the word, since a wording -ts is impossible in standard Finnish . In some Slavic languages ​​there are syllables without vowels; since this is not possible in other languages, vowels must be inserted: Serbian Србија (Srbija) > German Serbia .
  • Influence of intermediary languages, e.g. B. the sound of Kolkata read in German or Calcutta read in English is closer to the Indian pronunciations than the German reading of Calcutta , other names go back to Latinized spellings.
  • Need for literal translation; z. B. Austria is called Österrike in Swedish and Itävalta (itä = east , valta = empire ) in Finnish .

Often, toponyms are spelled the same in the source language and the target language, but pronounced differently. The spellings of London, Madrid, Edinburgh, Gothenburg and Paris in German do not differ from the source language, but their sound does .

Just like other words, exonyms can become out of use over time and be replaced by the name borrowed from the source language or another exonym, e.g. B. Nanzig for Nancy , New York for New York , Antorf for Antwerp , Buchenland for Bukovina (Romanian Bucovina ), Lodomeria for Volhynia (Ukrainian Волинь (Wolyn) ), Agram for Zagreb , Naugard for Novgorod . The media have a decisive influence on the survival of rare exonyms. The pronunciation of Barcelona with [ts] was a widespread and accepted phonetic exonym before the 1992 Olympic Games, but has now become rarer.

In addition to the time, the degree of linguistic education, but also the self-image and self-confidence with regard to one's own language are decisive factors when dealing with exonyms. Spanish or French native speakers, for example, differ considerably from German native speakers on these two points; In comparison, the latter are much more willing to adopt foreign-language sounds.

A distinction is to be made between the exonyms and historicisms created by renaming places , e.g. B. Chemnitz (before 1953 and since 1990) vs. Karl-Marx-Stadt (1953–1990), Nieuw Amsterdam (until 1664) vs. New York (since 1664) or Saint Petersburg (until 1914 and since 1991) vs. Leningrad (1924-1991). A temporal, not a geographical, difference in usage can be found here, even if a language change can be added to the chronological dimension, as in the last two examples.

German exonyms

German exonyms for foreign-language toponyms are, for example:

German exonyms for foreign-language personal names ( anthroponyms ):

Foreign language exonyms

Foreign-language exonyms for German-language toponyms are, for example:

  • Aachen : French Aix-la-Chapelle , Spanish Aquisgrán , Czech Cáchy , Polish Akwizgran , ndl. Aken , Italian Aquisgrana
  • Berlin : port. Berlim , it. Berlino , Czech Berlín , ndl. Berlijn
  • Germany : Croat. Njemačka , Polish Niemcy , French Allemagne , Portuguese Alemanha , Spanish Alemania , Finnish Saksa , Latvian Vācija , lit. Vokietija , Maori Tiamana , swedish / danish / norw . Tyskland , engl. Germany , Ital. Germania , Russian. Germanija
  • Glücksburg : dan. Lyksborg
  • Graz : slovenia. Gradec , Czech Štýrský Hradec
  • Hamburg : finn. Hampuri , dan. Hamborg , French Hambourg , Czech Hamburk, Spanish Hamburgo
  • Jülich : ndl. Gulik , French Juliers
  • Klagenfurt am Wörthersee : slovenia. Celovec ob vrbskem jezeru
  • Cologne : English, French Cologne , Czech Kolín nad Rýnem , Spanish, Italian Colonia , ndl. Clubs , Polish Kolonia
  • Leipzig : Polish Lipsk , Czech Lipsko , Romanian. Lipsca , Hungarian Lipcse , Portuguese Lípsia , Italian Lipsia
  • Mainz : Czech Mohuč , Polish Moguncja , French / English Mayence , Italian Magonza , Spanish Maguncia
  • Munich : Italian Monaco ( di Baviera, as opposed to the Principality of Monaco ), English, French Munich , Spanish Múnich , Portuguese Munique , Polish Monachium , Czech Mnichov
  • Nuremberg : Afrikaans, Dutch Neurenberg , English, French, Catalan. Nuremberg , Spanish Núremberg , Italian Norimberga , Czech Norimberk , Lithuanian Niurnbergas , Lat. Nirnberga , Polish Norymberga , Portuguese Nuremberga
  • Austria : English, Spanish, Italian Austria , French Austrian , arab. Nimsa , Czech. Rakousko , Finnish. Itävalta
  • Stuttgart : Italian Stoccarda , Polish Sztutgart , Portuguese Estugarda
  • Vienna : slovenia. Dunaj , Hungarian Bécs , Serb / Croat. Beč , Czech Vídeň , Polish Wiedeń , French Vienne , English, Italian Vienna , ndl. Wenen , Romanian / Spanish Viena , Turkish Viyana


  • Otto Back: translatable proper names. A synchronous investigation of interlingual allonymy and exonymy. 3. Edition. Vienna 2002, ISBN 3-7069-0146-3 .
  • Peter Jordan, Hubert Bergmann, Caroline Burgess, Catherine Cheetham (Eds.): Trends in Exonym Use. Proceedings of the 10th UNGEGN Working Group on Exonyms Meeting, Tainach, 28. – 30. April 2010. Kovač, Hamburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-8300-5656-0 .
  • Roman Stani-Fertl, Ingrid Kretschmer (Hrsg.), Karel Kriz (Hrsg.): Exonyms and cartography. Worldwide register of German geographical names, classified according to usage and their local equivalents. Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-900830-44-4 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Endonym  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Exonym  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations