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An exonym (from Greek: éxō, 'outer' + ónoma, 'name'; also known as xenonym) is a common, external name for a geographical place, group of people, individual person, or a language/dialect, that is used only outside that particular place, group, or linguistic community.[1] Exonyms not only exist for historico-geographical reasons, but also in consideration of difficulties when pronouncing foreign words.[1]

An endonym (from Greek: éndon, 'inner'; also known as autonym) is a common, internal name for a geographical place, group of people, or a language/dialect, that is used only inside the place, group, or linguistic community in question; it is their self-designated name for themselves, their homeland, or their language.

For instance, Deutschland is the endonym for the country that is also known by the exonym Germany in English and Allemagne in French. Marcel Aurousseau, an Australian geographer, first used the term exonym in his work The Rendering of Geographical Names (1957).[2] The term endonym was subsequently devised as an antonym for the term exonym.[citation needed]

In preference of exonyms

Matisoff wrote, "A group's autonym is often egocentric, equating the name of the people with 'mankind in general,' or the name of the language with 'human speech'."[6]:5

In Basque, the term erdara/erdera is used for speakers of any language different from Basque (usually Spanish or French). While the Irish and Scottish Gaelic words for England and its people are Sasana/Sasann and Sasanach/Sasannach ("Saxons"), the word for the English language is Béarla/Beurla, which derives ultimately from a word meaning "lips." In Old Irish, this word was applied to any foreign language, but by the medieval period it had come to be used exclusively for the English language.[citation needed]

Many millennia earlier, the Greeks thought that all non-Greeks were uncultured and so called them "barbarians," which eventually gave rise to the exonym "Berber."

Slavic people

Exonyms often describe others as "foreign-speaking," "non-speaking," or "nonsense-speaking." The classic example is the Slavic term for the Germans, Nemtsi, possibly deriving from a plural of nemy ("mute"); standard etymology has it that the Slavic peoples referred to their Germanic neighbors as "mutes" because their language was unintelligible. The term survives to this day in:

One of the more prominent theories regarding the origin of the term "

In the case of Beijing, the adoption of the exonym by media outlets quickly gave rise to a hyperforeignized pronunciation, with the result that many English speakers actualize the j in Beijing as /ʒ/.[8] One exception of Pinyin standardization in mainland China is the spelling of the province Shaanxi, which is the Guoyeu-Romatzh spelling of the province. That is because if Pinyin were used to spell the province, it would be indistinguishable from its neighboring province Shanxi, where the pronunciations of the two provinces only differ by tones, which are usually not written down when used in English.

In Taiwan, however, the standardization of Hanyu Pinyin has only seen mixed results. In Taipei, most (but not all) street and district names shifted to Hanyu Pinyin. For example, the Sinyi District is now spelled Xinyi. However, districts like Tamsui and even Taipei itself are not spelled according to Hanyu Pinyin spelling rules. As a matter of fact, most names of Taiwanese cities are still spelled using Chinese postal romanization, including Taipei, Taichung, Taitung, Keelung, and Kaohsiung.

Matisoff wrote, "A group's autonym is often egocentric, equating the name of the people with 'mankind in general,' or the name of the language with 'human speech'."[6]:5

In Basque, the term erdara/erdera is used for speakers of any language different from Basque (usually Spanish or French). While the Irish and Scottish Gaelic words for England and its people are Sasana/Sasann and Sasanach/Sasannach ("Saxons"), the word for the English language is Béarla/Beurla, which derives ultimately from a word meaning "lips." In Old Irish, this word was applied to any foreign language, but by the medieval period it had come to be used exclusively for the English language.[citation needed]

Many millennia earlier, the Greeks thought that all non-Greeks were uncultured and so called them "barbarians," which eventually gave rise to the exonym "Berber."

Basque, the term erdara/erdera is used for speakers of any language different from Basque (usually Spanish or French). While the Irish and Scottish Gaelic words for England and its people are Sasana/Sasann and Sasanach/Sasannach ("Saxons"), the word for the English language is Béarla/Beurla, which derives ultimately from a word meaning "lips." In Old Irish, this word was applied to any foreign language, but by the medieval period it had come to be used exclusively for the English language.[citation needed]

Many millennia earlier, the Greeks thought that all non-Greeks were uncultured and so called them "barbarians," which eventually gave rise to the exonym "Berber."

Exonyms often describe others as "foreign-speaking," "non-speaking," or "nonsense-speaking." The classic example is the Slavic term for the Germans, Nemtsi, possibly deriving from a plural of nemy ("mute"); standard etymology has it that the Slavic peoples referred to their Germanic neighbors as "mutes" because their language was unintelligible. The term survives to this day in:

  • Russian nemtsy (немцы),
  • Bulgarian Slav" suggests that it comes from the Slavic root slovo (hence "Slovenia," "Slovakia"), meaning 'word' or 'speech'. In this context, the Slavs are describing Germanic people as "mutes"—in contrast to themselves, "the speaking ones."

    Native Americans

    The most common names of several Indigenous American tribes derive from perjorative exonyms. Apache most likely derives from a Zuni word meaning "enemy." The name "Sioux", an abbreviated form of Nadouessioux, most likely derived from a Proto-Algonquian term, *-a·towe· ('foreign-speaking').[9] The name "Comanche" comes from the Ute word kɨmantsi meaning "enemy, stranger".[10] The Ancestral Puebloans are also known as the "Anasazi," a Navajo word meaning "ancient enemies," and contemporary Puebloans discourage use of the exonym.[11][12]

    Various Native-American autonyms are sometimes explained to English readers as having literal translations of "original people" or "normal people", with implicit contrast to other fi

    The most common names of several Indigenous American tribes derive from perjorative exonyms. Apache most likely derives from a Zuni word meaning "enemy." The name "Sioux", an abbreviated form of Nadouessioux, most likely derived from a Proto-Algonquian term, *-a·towe· ('foreign-speaking').[9] The name "Comanche" comes from the Ute word kɨmantsi meaning "enemy, stranger".[10] The Ancestral Puebloans are also known as the "Anasazi," a Navajo word meaning "ancient enemies," and contemporary Puebloans discourage use of the exonym.[11][12]

    Various Native-American autonyms are sometimes explained to English readers as having literal translations of "original people" or "normal people", with implicit contrast to other first nations as not original or not normal.[6][6]:5

    Exonyms and endonyms must not be confused with the results of geographical renaming as in the case of Saint Petersburg, which became Petrograd (Петроград) in 1914, Leningrad (Ленинград) in 1924, and again Saint Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург, Sankt-Peterbúrg) in 1991. In this case, although Saint Petersburg has a German etymology, it was never a German exonym for the city between 1914 and 1991, just as Nieuw Amsterdam, the Dutch name of New York City until 1664, is not its Dutch exonym.

    Old place names that have become outdated after renaming may afterwards still be used as historicisms. For example, even today one would talk about the Siege of Leningrad, not the Siege of St. Petersburg, because at that time (1941–1944) the city was called Leningrad. Likewise, one would say that Immanuel Kant was born in Königsberg in 1724, not in Kaliningrad (К

    Old place names that have become outdated after renaming may afterwards still be used as historicisms. For example, even today one would talk about the Siege of Leningrad, not the Siege of St. Petersburg, because at that time (1941–1944) the city was called Leningrad. Likewise, one would say that Immanuel Kant was born in Königsberg in 1724, not in Kaliningrad (Калининград), as it has been called since 1946.

    Likewise, Istanbul (Turkish: İstanbul) is still called Constantinople (Κωνσταντινούπολη) in Greek, although the name was changed in Turkish to disassociate the city from its Greek past between 1923 and 1930 (the name Istanbul itself derives from a Medieval Greek phrase).[13] Prior to Constantinople, the city was known in Greek as Byzantion (Greek: Βυζάντιον, Latin: Byzantium), named after its mythical founder, Byzas.

    Although the pronunciation for several names of Chinese cities such as Beijing and Nanjing has not changed for quite some while in Mandarin Chinese (although the prestige dialect shifted from Nanjing dialect to Beijing dialect during the 19th century), they were called Peking and Nanking in English due to the older Chinese postal romanization convention, based largely on the Nanjing dialect, which was used for transcribing Chinese place names before Pinyin, based largely on the Beijing dialect became the official romanization method for Mandarin in the 1970s. Since the Mandarin pronunciation does not perfectly map to an English phoneme, English speakers using either romanization will not pronounce the names correctly if standard English pronunciation is used. Nonetheless, many older English speakers still refer to the cities by their older English names and even today they are often used in naming things associated with the cities like Peking opera, Peking duck, and Peking University to give them a more antiquated or more elegant feel. Like for Saint Petersburg, the historical event called the Nanking Massacre (1937) uses the city's older name because that was the name of the city at the time of occurrence.

    Likewise, many Korean cities like Busan and Incheon (formerly Pusan and Inchǒn respectively) also underwent changes in spelling du

    Likewise, many Korean cities like Busan and Incheon (formerly Pusan and Inchǒn respectively) also underwent changes in spelling due to changes in romanization, even though the Korean pronunciations have largely stayed the same.

    The name Madras, now Chennai, may be a special case. When the city was first settled by Englishmen, in the early 17th century, both names were in use. Possibly they referred to different villages which were fused into the new settlement. In any case, Madras became the exonym, while more recently, Chennai became the endonym.

    Lists of exonyms


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