TROJANOW OR TROYANOV?

An interesting discussion of transliteration at the complete review, in the context of a new translation of Der Weltensammler, called The Collector of Worlds, by—well…:

Ilija Trojanow was born in Bulgaria, but his family left the country when he was very young and he has lived all over the world. He writes in German, and has always published his books under the name ‘Ilija Trojanow’.
Of course, Bulgarian is written in Cyrillic letters, and were one to transliterate his name from those into English one would do so differently than into German: the German w is the English v-sound, and a y is the obvious choice where the Germans use j. And, apparently seeking to get the pronunciation right, Faber is publishing The Collector of Worlds as by: Ilya Troyanov. Which does give English-speaking readers a better idea of how to pronounce his name.
The problem with this is that Ilya Troyanov is better-known as—indeed, very well known as: Ilija Trojanow. Even in the English-speaking world.

Two of his books have even been published in English translation—Mumbai To Mecca and Along the Ganges (get your copy at Amazon.com)—and they were published under the name: Ilija Trojanow.
When he appeared at the PEN World Voices festival last year it was as: Ilija Trojanow. (See now The Messiness of Now, an adapted version of his conversation at the festival now up at the PEN site, which is where we learned about the forthcoming translation.)
Perhaps most obviously to the point, in this Internet age, consider the Google results for the searches of his name:

* “Ilya Troyanov”: “30 results”
* “Ilija Trojanow”: “about 46,300”

You think maybe anyone who goes looking for information about this new Faber-author “Ilya Troyanov” on the Internet might wind up missing something?

My first reaction was “of course it should be Ilya Troyanov in English!” but as I read on I realized that, though it would have made sense for his first English publisher to have retransliterated the name, by now it’s pretty silly, and if his preferred transliteration makes it difficult for English-speakers to say his name correctly, that’s just the way Troy crumbles. (I added the alternate transliteration to his Wikipedia page; we’ll see if it stays. Oh, and by now “Ilya Troyanov” gets over 900 hits.)

Comments

  1. I’m having a hard time seeing a reason for the new transliteration. If he writes in German and has been published in English as ‘Ilija Trojanow’, why change it now? Because he has a new publisher? Also, really, won’t the audience of his books recognize it as the Germanicization of a Slavic name & pronounce it accordingly? or is that just crazy talk?

  2. That’s not crazy talk. I imagine Trojanow’s audience is fairly literate. Also he’s lived in Germany long enough and writes in German, why not just treat his name as German?

  3. michael farris says:

    “My first reaction was “of course it should be Ilya Troyanov in English!”
    Why? He doesn’t write professionally in Bulgarian (is there any evidence he even could?).
    He’s a German language author and Trojanow isn’t a transliteration, it’s how his name is spelled in what is surely his primary (if not technically ‘first’) language.
    Should the composers be known now as Vogner and Shtrouss?

  4. Why? Because I hadn’t gotten to all that explanatory stuff yet; all I knew was that the name was Bulgarian.

  5. Interesting… But is this really so unusual? In Russian the
    transliteration coming “through another language” confuses the reader to
    no end, as for many names there is a historic, a modern, and then a
    modern journalistic transliteration: there are several historic ways to
    spell the name of Kierkegaard in Russian, Shakespear is apparently
    pronounced the French way, the historic English kings are — apparently
    — transliterated from the German way of calling them
    (William=Вильгельм, Charles = Карл, which makes me wonder if Prince
    Charles, normally called Чарльз in modern Russian papers, would be
    suddenly re-named in Russian, if crowned); old and new translations of
    popular novels typically disagree in transliteration of the names:
    Иванхое-Айвенго (Ivanhoe), Ватсон/Уотсон (Dr. Watson), etc.

  6. Doug Sundseth says:

    First, I completely agree that a pen name shouldn’t be changed for such trivial reasons. It’s a brand name and should be treated as such.
    That said, I don’t think it’s quite so obvious from the spelling how the author would prefer that you pronounce that name. There have been many generations of emigrants with Slavic names with a vast array of different transliterations. Over the years, the pronunciations and spellings of those names have both drifted in idiosyncratic ways.
    An example that drives me slightly batty is “Braun”, usually (?) pronounced “brawn” in the US. But it’s not only an American problem, of course — the pronunciations of Beauchamp (“beech’m”) St. in London must be distracting for a native French speaker.
    If you know that the writer is a first generation emigrant and speaks German as a primary language, the intended pronunciation can be determined with high probability. If you don’t know those things, as I did not before this post, not so much.

  7. Doug Sundseth says:

    Upon re-reading that, I think I should apologize for the execrable transition between the second and third paragraphs. I hope you mentally inserted something like, “This isn’t unique to Slavic languages, ….”
    If not, well that’s what Post-it notes are for. 😎

  8. Interesting… But is this really so unusual?
    A riot of transliterations for a particular name is not unusual, I think. In this case, however, the author’s name has already been Romanized in print, & is being re-Romanized for IMHO weak reasons. And as Complete Review notes, the rising profile of internet searches ought to act as a brake on such casual polyonymy.
    […] the historic English kings are — apparently — transliterated from the German way of calling them (William=Вильгельм, Charles = Карл, which makes me wonder if Prince Charles, normally called Чарльз in modern Russian papers, would be suddenly re-named in Russian, if crowned)
    Veddy interesting.
    English speakers refer to Russian czars named ‘Иван’ as ‘Ivan’, but to Byzantine emperors named ‘Ιωάννης’ as ‘John’, transliterating one & translating the other. I’m guessing there’s a reason for this, but maybe not.

  9. I’m guessing there’s a reason for this, but maybe not.
    I would guess it has something to do with the date at which English speakers started referring to the individual. e.g. English speakers translate the names of the Apostles. I sort of thought that was because English speakers had had cause to refer to those people since the early days of the language, and were taking them from other languages where they had been translated earlier. I sort-of assume that speakers of languages where Christianity was introduced in modern times might transliterate the Apostles’ names from the language of the missionaries. This has been your uninformed linguistic speculation for today.

  10. Bill Walderman says:

    A similar situation prevails with regard to the composer P. I. Chaikovski. The conventional spelling of his name in English seems to be based on French. When his name is transliterated according to the usual rules for converting Russian into English, it’s almost unrecognizable.

  11. And the painter Pavel Tchelitchew—I can never remember how it’s spelled. (Just now I tried to google it as Tschelitscheff.) Chelishchev would be so much easier to remember.
    Huh, for some reason the other Wikipedia articles don’t link to the Russian one. I’ll go remedy that.

  12. Bill Walderman says:

    “English speakers refer to Russian czars named ‘Иван’ as ‘Ivan’, but to Byzantine emperors named ‘Ιωάννης’ as ‘John’, transliterating one & translating the other. I’m guessing there’s a reason for this, but maybe not.”
    Some tsars and tsarinas are commonly referred to in English by the English forms of their names: Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Elizabeth, Paul, Alexander, Nicholas. But Ivan is Ivan, Feodor is Feodor, and Vasily usually doesn’t get converted into Basil. Mikhail apparently can go either way. There’s no choice for Boris.

  13. Weird, there’s no German Wikipedia article on him, but there is one on his lifelong partner Charles Henri Ford—which doesn’t even mention his relationship with Tchelitchew! If I cared more about the German Wikipedia I’d do something about it.

  14. John Emerson says:

    Musorgsky (42,000 Googles)seems to be the academic standard now, but you also see Mussorgsky (1,800,000), Moussourgski (15,000), Moussorgsky (151,000), and Mussorgski (15,000) and Musorgski (3,520) and possible more. Some of these are standard for languages other than English, and some are frequent misspellings, and some are both. Since the music industry is international, foreign spellings easily slip into English.
    In (very distantly) related news, when I was reading about Musorgsky in English a temperature was reported in Reaumur, which is easily converted to Centigrade but which I’d never heard of before. Interesting to me, but I think that a good translator would have converted.

  15. John Emerson says:

    Tcherepnin came into English via French too.

  16. michael farris says:

    In Polish, the British royal family names (at least Elżbieta and Karol) are always translated but other royalty usually isn’t. That is, the King of Spain, for instance, is usually called Juan Carlos.
    As for the Russian composer, because of the traditional transcription, for many years I pronounced his name (mentally) with an initial /t/ as if it were Tajkovskij instead of Čajkovskij (in the transliteration I prefer). Of course I felt kind of dumb when I realized what I’d been doing. I’m not sure how I reconciled my mental pronunciation with real world pronunciation…

  17. John Emerson says:

    Musorgsky called Tchaikovsky “Sadik Pasha”, after the Polish anti-Czarist renegade Czajkowski, who after his defeat converted to Islam and settled in Turkey. There was a Polish village in Turkey up until a few decades ago.

  18. John Emerson says:
  19. John Emerson says:
  20. re Ivan. In the 15th century English speakers did not know a great deal about Muscovy. I wonder how many of Ivan’s English contemporaries even realized that Ivan is a correspondent of John. Just to confuse matters, in Russian Biblical Johns (i.e. “the Baptist” and “the Apostle”) are Ioann, not Ivan.

  21. michael farrism says:

    It still exists. I forget the name but it’s in European Turkey and has been featured on Polish tv a time or two and most of the residents can still speak Polish (with Turkish accents). Or you may be thinking of a different Polish village in Turkey.

  22. It’s easier to convert Reaumur to Celsius/centigrade than to Fahrenheit, but it’s still a pain, and (in the words of that great scientist Dr. Wikipedia) “Today it is only of historical significance except that it is still used in the measuring of milk temperature in cheese.”

  23. But I’ve seen refs to John the Dread.

  24. This reminds me of a volume on the history of German I read back at the college which referred to Henry I of Germany as “Henrich Ptizelow”. My roommate (a history major) and I were rather puzzled by this appelation which seemed to be unique to this source and we spent quite some time trying to get to the bottom of this. It wasn’t until we realized the book was a translation from Russian that it dawned on us: Henry I – who is also known as Henry the Fowler – is Генрих I Птицелов in Russian, where Птицелов [ptitselov] = fowler. The translator of this particular volume probably wasn’t well versed in history and thus mistook Henry I’s agnomen for his cognomen and, consequent as he was in his ignorance, translated it into German: Птицелов [ptitselov] – Ptizelow.

  25. In Portuguese, we (in Brasil and our almost-languagemates in Portugal) refer to Queen Elizabeth I or II as “Rainha Elizabeth”, pronouncing the name as if it were spelled “Elizabete” in our language. Strangely, Hispanophones call these exalted personages “Reina Isabel” (which is confusing enough, since there existed a Spanish queen by that name). Others are called by us Lusophones “Ivan, o Terrível”, “Catarina, a Grande” and, of course, “Henrique, o Passarinheiro”! 😉

  26. –In (very distantly) related news, when I was reading about Musorgsky in English a temperature was reported in Reaumur, which is easily converted to Centigrade but which I’d never heard of before. Interesting to me, but I think that a good translator would have converted.
    I’m actually dealing with the same problem. I’m translating a Karel Čapek (some whimsical piece about winter) and if I recall correctly, he mentions two thermometers in one sentence–one in centigrade and one in Réaumur, which I had also never heard of.
    Changing it to Fahrenheit is unjustified, and I can’t just make it centigrade, since there’s already one of those in the sentence already. I’ll have to keep it and footnote, though I’ll probably leave out the bit about cheese manufacture.

  27. Hmm. Should have put that quote in…quotes.
    Not trying to steal anyone’s wording here. Sorry, John.

  28. Hispanophones call these exalted personages “Reina Isabel” (which is confusing enough, since there existed a Spanish queen by that name).
    About 20 years ago I read an article in a Chilean newspaper to the effect that there were two famous people in the world called Elizabeth, who were identified as Elizabeth Taylor and Elizabeth the Queen Mother. I was surprised that the latter was considered to be more famous than her daughter, but my wife pointed out that the daughter was called Isabel. Apparently only some Elizabeths become Isabel in Spanish.

  29. I’ve always felt that temperatures should be in Kelvin. Feels– warmer that way, somehow.

  30. Elizabeth the Queen Mother… the daughter was called Isabel.
    That’s truly bizarre. So is the heir apparent Carlos and all other Charleses Charles? If something happens to prevent his becoming king, will he magically become a Charles?

  31. robert berger says:

    Actually,Trojanow could be transliterated
    as Trojanov in German,because in Slavic
    languages,final V is devoiced to sound as F.

  32. That’s truly bizarre. So is the heir apparent Carlos and all other Charleses Charles? If something happens to prevent his becoming king, will he magically become a Charles?
    Googling for
       “Carlos, Principe de Gales” -Charles
    on Spanish-language pages yields about a hundred times as many results (2550 instead of 21) than
       “Charles, Principe de Gales” -Carlos
    so I think the answer is that he’s already Carlos.
    The original article about the Queen Mother was in an article at about the cultural level of People magazine, and I don’t suppose the writer even knew that she and Queen Elizabeth II had the same name. Come to think of it it may have been a Letter to the Editor rather than an article.
    Digressing a bit, I was visiting the Chateau de Fontainebleau at the weekend, and noticed that English seems to be exceptional in not translating the names of foreign kings; there were Luis, Luigi and Ludwig in the Spanish, Italian and German versions of the descriptive labels, but no Lewis in the English. Years ago I came across Lewis in, I think, something written by Macaulay, and thought it looked very odd.

  33. Yes, English too used to routinely translate foreign names; I don’t know when it started using the original forms.

  34. because in Slavic
    languages,final V is devoiced to sound as F.

    Um, no, I don’t think so. Definitely not in Slovak or Czech where the final v turns into [ʊ]. Drives our English teachers mad when everybody keeps pronouncing ‘love’ as [laʊ] 🙂 I’m not so sure about other Slavic languages, like Russian. In Brezhnev’s last name, for example, I hear [v], same in Zhukov. Konev I’m not so sure about.

  35. John Emerson says:

    Louis is both an English and a French form. Lewis is uniquely English. I don’t know how far back that traces. Because of immigration, in the U.S. any name can be an English name, so Carl, Karl, Charles, and Carlos all exist side by side. Conceivably Louis in English goes back to the Normans, though.
    I have a friend whose legal given name is Louie, the Anglicized spelling of Louis. For him Lewis would be an unrelated name. It’s conceivable around here that his name traces back to a distant French / French-Canadian ancestor.

  36. michael farris says:

    On Slavic devoicing of final /v/, Polish devoices /v/ (orthographic w) anytime it possibly can.
    Not only word finally Kraków pronounced Krakuf and before voiceless consonants ławka ‘bench’ as łafka but after them too so that kwiat ‘flower’ is pronounced kfiat. Even the intervening /r/ doesn’t stop it from being devoiced in words like trwać (to last) pronounced as if written trfać.

  37. Terry Collmann says:

    Not that I give a flying frog about Prince Charles, but don’t bet on him being called “King Charles III” if he ever succeeds his mum – kings don’t have to take the name they were born with as their title at their coronation. Edward VII and George VI were both called Albert, for example. I wouldn’t put it past the jug-eared idiot to call himself “George VII” when crowned, as a tribute to his grandmother’s husband.
    Norman Davies, in his enormous “The Isles: A History”, apparently as part of the drive to avoid anglocentricity, insisted on giving all the principal players in British history the names they would have been known by in the languages they spoke, so that William the Conquerer became Guillaume, King John was King Jean, and so on – very irritating …

  38. Russian devoices as well. Brezhnev, Konev and Zhukov are all pronounced with a final [f] in isolation.

  39. Yeah, bulbul, as hesitant as I am to disagree with a Slavic linguist about a Slavic language, I think you’re wrong about Russian.

  40. vanya, hat,
    I stand corrected, thank you gentlemen.

  41. mollymooly says:

    If you’re getting deja vu, reread LINGUISM and HENRI/HENRY.
    My question: why do anglophone historians speak of “Ferdinand and Isabella” rather than Fernando or Elizabeth? Granted, Isabel is an English name too, but Isabella?

  42. Actually, Germans are very familiar with German/Slavic names in -ow, because of all the east Prussian Junker family names (Buelow for example) where the W is traditionally written but not pronounced. So Trojanow is no stretch in German.

  43. I thought I remembered a poemon the subject of reaumur. It’s by Christian Morgenstern:
    Kronprätendenten
    – »Ich bin der Graf von Réaumur
    und hass’ euch wie die Schande!
    Dient nur dem Celsio für und für,
    Ihr Apostatenbande!«
    Im Winkel König Fahrenheit
    hat still sein Mus gegessen.
    – »Ach Gott, sie war doch schön, die Zeit,
    die man nach mir gemessen!«

  44. Bruno van Wayenburg says:

    As a Dutch journalist, I once interviewed the Indo-Europeanist Alexander Lubotsky, a Russian who has lived in the Netherlands for years, but transliterated his name the English way, which is quite natural for the roving researcher he must have been.
    The editors of my Dutch paper, however, knew much better, and changed it to the Dutch Loebotski, according to the paper’s style manual, which also gives us Poetin, Poesjkin and Chroesjtsjov.
    Lubotsky was particularly jarred because this spelling reminded him, a professional etymologist, of some exotic form of yebat’, not a nice word in Russian (although undoubtedly a very old Indo-European root). So I’d say: stick to the original transliteration.

  45. David Marjanović says:

    I’m not so sure about other Slavic languages, like Russian.

    Russian generally has final devoicing, but in my limited experience /v/ more or less stays /v/. Could be an undocumented regional difference within Russian, though (like the pronunciation of ч as alveolopalatal or retroflex, or whether non-palatalized consonants are velarized).
    In German /v/ simply doesn’t occur at the ends of words or even syllables, just like how /w/ doesn’t occur there in English (…and for the same reason!). Northeast German personal and place names of Slavic origin that end in -ow are pronounced with just [o:], but almost nobody outside northeastern Germany seems to know that; I have read about it somewhere rather than experiencing it. (The -iv endings of borrowed adjectives are [i:f], which is not a surprise because v already most often represents /f/.)

    Polish devoices /v/ (orthographic w) anytime it possibly can.

    Oh yes. Witness the amazing shrinking beer: piwo ([v]), piwko (loud, clear [f]; probably the source of Piefke), piwaczko ([v]).

    the jug-eared idiot

    😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

  46. John Emerson says:

    Just speculating whether the most excellent Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky is a Tchaikovsky or a Czajkowski — either, neither, or both.

  47. John Emerson says:

    Schakowsky is Polish and Jewish in descent, so maybe she’s a Czajkowski.

  48. John Emerson says:

    Schakowsky is Polish and Jewish in descent, so maybe she’s a Czajkowski.

  49. Wales (a name he hates) has indeed declared his intention of being crowned (if he is) under the name “George VII”; it is his fourth given name. I personally would have preferred the brouhaha if he had chosen one of his other given names, namely the third.
    My mother told me that in her youth in Germany (1919-1931), at least in her part of it, all temperatures were routinely given in both Celsius and Réaumur in that order.

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