Saturday, 30 April 2011

What's in a name?

Scanning newspapers, English and Spanish, on-line this morning, I discovered that a young couple called by El Faro de Vigo Guillermo y Catalina had set off on honeymoon in a helicopter. I don't think they intended to use the helicopter for the whole of their journey. Their aim was to avoid the news-hounds who would follow their every move if they used a more conventional means of transport. I wonder if Guillermo was at the controls of said helicopter. For he is, of course, our own Prince William and I understand that helicopter flying is one of the skills he has perfected up in recent years.

What interested me was the fact that William and Kate/Catherine had become Guillermo y Catalina. It's one of those odd but interesting facts that the Spanish media always translate our royal family's names in
to Spanish while the English speaking press leave Spanish names in the original. You never see the king and queen of Spain being referred to as John Charles and Sophie. Prince Felipe and Letizia do not change into Philip and Letitia.

It is something that we must have done in the past. Our history books talk about the Catholic Monarchs (Los Reyes Católicos) as Ferdinand a
nd Isabella, the anglicised form of Fernando e Isabel. When you look at place names, cities and regions which were known long long ago have anglicised names. Just as the Spanish call London Londres, so we say Seville for Sevilla and historically Saragossa for Zaragoza, but I suspect that tourist guide books now use the Spanish version for that city.

Really, of course, we should go back to their own-language version for all place names if we are to be truly modern. After all we no longer talk about Peking and Bombay but Beijing and Mumbai. So maybe we are just being very modern in not giving the Spanish royal family English versions of their names.

Of course, we do still use English versions of nam
es of popes but I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that an institution steeped in tradition keeps to traditional ways of doing things, with a slightly different version of the Pope's name for each country he visits.

As for Guillermo and Catalina, well, I must be among the few who did not see the wedding as it took place.
We went to a friend's party yesterday evening – to celebrate his return from a round the world cruise, I hasten to add, NOT to celebrate the royal nuptials – and one of the guests was telling everyone how she had got up at SIX in the morning to watch the television coverage!!!

We avoided the fuss altogether during the dayby trotting off to Chester Zoo to celebrate our
grandson's birthday. So instead of admiring frothy frocks and big hats, we oohed and aahed over red pandas and elephants' bath time. There were rather more people there than we had expected. Other people obviously had the same ideas as we did. And there were a lot of caravans on the road: people off for a long bank holiday weekend.

But now that the big event is all over and the rubbish has been swept up off the stree
ts of London, what ARE the media going to find to prattle on about?

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