A problem which one encounters in going from one language to another is that names are different. You will have to learn the Spanish equivalents for many commonly used names, and you will have to learn to say many others with a Spanish, not an English, pronunciation. If you are trying to communicate in Spanish, and yet say names as you would in English, you probably will not be understood. The following materials will help prepare you to use names in a Gospel context.
FAMILY NAMES (Apellidos)
Family names are never translated. It would, of course, be quite possible to do that with a large number of names since most of them have a basic meaning, such as: White, Smith, Barber, Baker, Knight, King, Peterson, Miller, Butterfield, Freeman, etc. But since the name carries an identity from the original culture, it is not changed.
Spanish speakers are accustomed to hearing odd-sounding last names from history and current world figures, although they are usually unaware of any meaning that might be there. This is also true in English; we do not associate Cooper with “barrel maker,” nor Jones with “John’s Son,” etc. We, too, are accustomed to foreign-sounding last names such as Eisenhower, MacDonald, Suzuki, Rodriguez, DeGaulle, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc., and if they mean something, we are usually unaware of it.
A problem does arise, however, with the pronunciation of surnames. Normally they should be pronounced as they would be in the native language. This is easy for us when we say names from our own culture, but it is quite difficult for speakers of another language. It is hard for Spanish speakers, for example, to pronounce sounds which are not natural to Spanish such as: “w”, “th”, “sh”, voiced “z”, an initial “s” followed by a consonant, a final “ch”, etc. The capital of our country is often pronounced “GWA-seen-ton,” the “z” in Lorenzo (Snow) is not voiced: “Loh-REN-soh” in Latin America and “Loh-REN-tho” in Spain, and the Prophet Joseph’s name is usually said “Es-MIT”. Spanish speakers usually will give all the vowels a pure quality, and will not reduce or relax syllables as we do in English. They will say “KEEM-bahl,” “BEN-sohn,” and “MOHN sohn. Names which have a Spanish configuration are often pronounced as in Spanish: Noble = “NOH-blay,” for example.
The “h” in foreign names is usually not pronounced: Heber = E-ber, Harris = A-rrees, etc.
GIVEN NAMES (Nombres de Pila)
Spanish has, of course, equivalents for many English given names, and many people use their equivalents in Spanish. Names of well-known and historical figures are usually translated: Henry VIII = Enrique VIII (Octavo), George Washington = Jorge Washington, Alexander the Great = Alejandro Magno, Christopher Columbus = Cristóbal Colón, Adolph Hitler = Adolfo Hitler, Pope John Paul = el papa Juan Pablo, etc. This practice is not always consistent, and the trend now seems to be not to translate.
In the Gospel setting, the following first names are translated:
Joseph Smith, Sr. = José Smith, Padre
Joseph Smith, Jr. = José Smith, Hijo
Oliver Cowdery = (sometimes) Oliverio Cowdery
The names of early leaders are not translated: Joseph Knight, John Whitmer, John Taylor, Peter Whitmer, etc. Given names with a Spanish configuration, however, are often pronounced as if Spanish, for example:
David Whitmer = Da-VEED
Samuel Smith = Sah-MOOEL
Thomas Marsh = Toh-MAHS
With the names of modern Church leaders, there is no translation of given names. They are usually said as they are pronounced in English:
George Albert Smith (Not Jorge Alberto)
James E. Talmage (Not Santiago or Jaime)
Mary Fielding Smith (Not María)
INITIALS IN NAMES (Iniciales)
In the American culture it is common to give children “middle” names, often the mother’s maiden name. In formal settings this middle name is usually reduced to an initial, but is always included. We become so used to it that it becomes an integral part of the name: Joseph F. Smith, Spencer W. Kimball, Thomas S. Monson, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Richard G. Scott, etc. We tend to forget that it is an initial. In Spanish this initial should be said in Spanish, not in English. Following are the names of initials as they would be said in Spanish. Memorize them and then practice saying the names of Church authorities, saying the initial in Spanish, not English. (Final e is pronounced like ay, as in say; a is pronounced ah, as in far.)
A = ah
B = be
C = ce
D = de
E = eh
F = efe
G = ge
H = hache
I = i (ee)
J = jota
K = cah
L = ele
M = eme
N = ene
O = oh
P = pe
Q = cu
R = ere
S = ese
T = te
U = oo
V = ve, uve
W = doble ve, ve doble
X = equis
Y = i griega
Z = zeta
PLACE NAMES (Nombres de Lugares)
Names of places, if well known, may be translated. Most times they are not. Some commonly translated place names are: Nueva York; Nueva Orleans; Berna, Suiza (Bern, Switzerland); Moscú, Rusia; Londres, Inglaterra (London, England); Lisboa; Salzburgo; Tejas (Texas); Disneylandia; la Casa Blanca.
Examples of place names used in the Church that are translated: Nueva York, Canadá, Misuri, el Gran Lago Salado, Misisipí, Adán-ondi-Ahmán, el Jardín de Edén. Salt Lake City is usually left as in English, but is often referred to as Lago Salado
NAMES OF THINGS (Nombres de Cosas)
Names of publications are not translated: The Church News, The Deseret News, The Ensign, The Friend, The New Era, History of the Church, etc.
Names of buildings and organizations are often translated: la Casa de Investiduras (Endowment House), la Manzana del Templo, el Coro del Tabernáculo, el Palacio de la Sal, etc.
NAMES IN THE SCRIPTURES
(Los nombres en las escrituras)
Spanish names from the scriptures usually have a different version from the English. Following are some of the most common names and places:
Abraham… Abrán, Abram
Garden of Eden… Jardín de Edén
James… Santiago, (Jacobo)
… el bautista
… el apóstol
… el amado
Mary Magdalene… María Magdalena
Mount of Olives…el Monte de los Olivos
New Jerusalem… Nueva Jerusalén
Pontius Pilate… Poncio Pilato
Tower of Babel… la Torre de Babel
Many scriptural names are spelled almost the same in English and Spanish, but remember they are pronounced differently:
Sam (a = ah)
Sara (a = ah)
Do not pronounce the h, even in combination with “T” or “p”:
Lehi (no “h” sound)
Ruth (no “th” sound)
Seth (no “th” sound)
Zarahemla (no “h” sound)
The stress on words ending in a consonant other than “n” or “s” is on the final syllable:
Be careful not to carry over your English pronunciation into Spanish, especially with such common names as:
Job… Job (aspirate jota)
Daniel… Daniel (a = ah)
Urim y Tumim (stress on last syllable)
Other special things to watch for are:
The LORD in the King James edition of the English Bible is usually Jehová in Spanish.
Elijah is Elías in Spanish, as is also Elias. To distinguish the two, Elías el profeta is used in the Church to refer to Elijah. (See Mal. 4:5, Juan 1: 21, 25)
The Book of Revelations in the New Testament is usually referred to as Apocalipsis although it can be called Revelaciones.
Note that the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit can both be el Espíritu Santo in Spanish. To distinguish between the two, we refer to the power and influence that come from God as el Santo Espirítu.