El Manchester and Bavaria Munich – What’s in a Name?

I read an interesting post today about the assimilation of football team names in the media to make them more easily understood by viewers, listeners and readers.

It is often the case that we English “Anglicise” or rearrange words (and for that matter, team names) to help us understand or pronounce them. It is of interest to note that we are not the only ones…

Christoph Wagner wrote the piece. He is a friend of this blog and he runs two excellent sites, “An Old International” – his football site, and “Do not Mention the War” – a blog that looks at Anglo-German relations.

I have taken a cue from him with today’s post, so in kind, I urge you to take a look at both his sites…

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Christoph discusses the trend in Germany to also do the same, citing the example of naming Arsenal, “Arsenal London,” to help explain the geographical situation of a club with such an unusual name, to those outside of England. He also gives a wonderful example of the glorious Anglicised mash-up that is Bayern Munich.

Webpage from Do Not Mention The War siteIt got me thinking about a little trait of the Spanish that I first noticed many years ago. (I am told this holds true elsewhere as well, but Spain is where I have personally noticed it the most).

On a trip to Spain some time ago, I met some old school-friends of my wife’s. A boozy evening ended with once chap showing me a collection of wood carvings he had made of the various club crests of Spanish football clubs. Upon leaving, he pressed a few of them in to my hands and in a sentence that wouldn’t look out of place in a Garcia Marquez novel, he loftily pronounced “It would be an honour to know that I have given these to a fan of el Manchester.”

It became clear that Manchester United were almost universally known as “el Manchester,” much to the chagrin of city fans everywhere. “Manchester are a very good team,” “Real Madrid face el Manchester at Old Trafford,” etc. etc.

Will the arrival of a new footballing superpower, “el City,” leave speakers of more phonetic languages struggling to pronounce the word “United” to differentiate the red and blue mancunians?

“Llu-nay-ted”? “Oo-nee-ted”?

My sister-in-law passed on the advert below, currently being shown in Spain, which is for English language lessons. “No longer say “el Masch-test-er”, say Manchester United….”


I digress. Christoph began the discussion here: Naming It Right | Do not mention the war.

Please do take a look.


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