EP word of the week (#9): Madrid (e outras cidades europeias)

To finish this world tour close to home, I’ll focus on a series of differences between EP and BP when it comes to the names of several European cities.

  • Madrid: Madrid (EP) > Madri (BP)
  • Amsterdam: Amesterdão (EP) > Amsterdã (BP)
  • Copenhagen: Copenhaga (EP) > Copenhague (BP)
  • HelsinkiHelsínquia (EP) > Helsinque (BP)
  • Moscow: Moscovo (EP) > Moscou (BP)

Most of these differences are related to the different phonologies of either variant, which in turn created different customary uses for each city name; for example, the pattern of BP losing the last “o” in a word place name with “ão” in EP also holds true for the Portuguese names for Iran and its capital city, Tehran:

  • Iran: Irão (EP) > Irã (BP)
  • Tehran: Teerão (EP) > Teerã (BP)

And the pattern of having open vowels (especially “o” and “e”) in stressed syllables before nasal consonants (m, n, nh) in EP turn into closed vowels in BP (which I’ve highlighted at the start of our trip to Polónia) holds true for many more place names, both for cities and countries:

  • Cologne (Köln): Colónia (EP) > Colônia (BP)
  • Armenia: [a] Arménia (EP) > [a] Armênia (BP)
  • Monaco: [o] Mónaco (EP) > [o] Mônaco (BP)
  • Romania: [a] Roménia (EP) > [a] Romênia (BP)

A full list of these differences can be found on a forthcoming Grammar Tips post that will serve as a thesaurus of place names in European Portuguese.

Related words/useful sentences:

  • [a] capital: capital (of a country/region/state)
  • [a] cidade: city
  • [o] país: country
  • [a] Europa: Europe
  • [o] europeu / [a] europeia: European
  • [a] União Europeia: European Union
  • Madrid é a capital de Espanha. Madrid is the capital of Spain.
  • Helsínquia é a capital da Finlândia. Helsinki is the capital of Finland.
  • Vou fazer uma viagem de carro desde o Mónaco até Moscovo. I will make a car trip from Monaco to Moscow.


6 thoughts on “EP word of the week (#9): Madrid (e outras cidades europeias)

  1. Patricia/orfeonegro February 21, 2016 / 5:24 pm

    Olá, Luís! What do the Portuguese call the German city of Münich? In Spanish it’s Monaco – which causes a bit of confusion…

    Liked by 1 person

    • luisdomingos February 21, 2016 / 6:45 pm

      Olá, Patricia! I had no idea that issue existed in Spanish – that is quite confusing indeed!

      No such issue exists in Portuguese, though: Munich (München) is called Munique (as I mentioned in the article, historically important cities usually get their own Portuguese names). The same rationale extends to Länder whose name makes reference to a historical region – Saxony (Sachsen) becomes Saxónia, North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein Westfalen) becomes Renânia do Norte-Vestefália, and Bavaria (Bayern) is known as Baviera.

      A note on the note: Just like in English, in the club name “Bayern München”, the media and the average person only translates the name of the city (so, both newscasts and conversations among aficionados will refer to Bayern (de) Munique, or Bayern for short). If you ever come to Portugal and hear someone talk about Bayern with a Portuguese accent, now you know what they mean by that (and that’s truly all they mean by that – most people aren’t aware of what “Bayern” actually means in German).

      Good luck with your studies :)


  2. Patricia/orfeonegro February 22, 2016 / 5:40 pm

    Ah, muito obrigada! And your information about the names of the states – and the soccer club –
    was very important! By the way, in Spanish the use of Monaco seems to have disappeared: now it’s Múnich. No matter that most people don’t know what Bayern actually means, here most people don’t know what Benfica is. :-)


    • luisdomingos February 22, 2016 / 6:11 pm

      De nada! Thank you for that information regarding Spanish – it’s good to know they’ve sorted that issue out :)

      I guess some things are better left untranslated – brand names (as in clubs) are such a big part of their identity that it would hurt if they were translated (:


      • Patricia/orfeonegro February 23, 2016 / 10:42 am

        I had started to think I had been completely off the track about the “Mónaco=München” business, but I did find a reference to it in es.wikipedia.org : “Mónaco de Baviera, nombre por el que se conocía a la ciudad de Múnich (Alemania).” (Whew!)

        Liked by 1 person

        • luisdomingos February 23, 2016 / 3:08 pm

          It seems like that way of saying it hasn’t changed at all in Italian: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monaco_di_Baviera. It feels hopelessly complicated, especially considering the historical relevance of both country and city (and their separate etymologies; one wasn’t named after the other).


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