Question by Emi: Why is it Leo Tolstoy and not Lev Tolstoy (Лев Толстой) in English language?
Also, why change the name to Leon Trotsky in English when the person’s real name is Lev Trotsky (Лев Троцкий)?
What might be the reason for the change occurring only with a few certain names?
They haven’t changed such names as, e.g.
Jean-Pierre Rousseau to John-Jack Rousseau,
Jean-Paul Sartre to John-Paul Sartre,
Stefan Zweig to Stephen Zweig,
Franz Kafka to Francis Kafka,
Nikolai Gogol to Nicholas Gogol,
Mikhail Lermontov to Michael Lermontov,
Anton Chekhov to Anthony Chekhov.
Thank you @Smells… , I appreciate your remarks.
I apologize for my hastiness, it was clearly meant to be “Jean-Pierre Rousseau to John-Peter Rousseau”.
I am afraid that you have misunderstood my question. I am not complaining, I am just being curious. I want to know why. I am not asking “why did those idiots have to change Lev to Leo”. Hope I have clarified the nature of my question.
– “Half of your claimed changes…” – please note that I have not claimed any changes, I just gave a few examples.
– “Kafka. Odd that you pick Francis, rather than Frank…” – German Franz can be transferred into English as Francis or Frank. If you are fluent in German and English, you may happen to find that it does feel more comfortable to change Franz to Francis because of the sound [ts] remaining intact. Or you may not. it’s not like all Germans agree on everything.
– “Most of your complaints…” – as I tried to explain above, these are not comp
– Your remark about Russians using Leo and Leon is quite beside the point, since that was never the issue here. On top of that, it is not exactly correct. I never saw or heard of a Russian person called “Лео” (Leo). You may encounter “Леон” (Leon) but in my experience and to my knowledge it is used predominantly by Jewish, or some other minorities, and it is certainly not a name Russians would use left and right. Btw, I am fluent in Russian and am well familiar with the Cyrillic script.
Finally, it is not my intention to engage in a chat on Y!A. I felt I owed an explanation to whoever might read my question, since English is not my first language. Sorry for my apparently confusing wording.
Answer by Smells like New Screen Names
Pierre isn’t Jack. Jack is a diminutive of John, while Pierre is a form of Peter. The translation would be John-Peter ( two apostles, not John John)
Half of your claimed changes are just variations in how one chooses to translate Cyrillic, a variation depending on whether they were done by the French or English. Gogol, Chekhov, Lermontov
Kafka. Odd that you pick Francis, rather than Frank, which is the English version
Most of your complaints seem to be that they don’t translate German and French as they do Russian. It’s a simple explanation, Russians don’t use the same alphabet.
And they use Leo, because Trotsky did, his grandfather’s name was Leon.
Answer by cathrl69
Could it have been because the people bringing his works to the UK felt a “Jewish name” would put people off?
Honestly, I don’t know, and it’s an interesting question.
Similarly, I’ve always wondered why it’s “Moscow” in English and not “Moskva”.
Answer by DʘʘD
I’m pretty sure that Tolstoy himself began using the name Leo Tolstoy when writing in English, for whatever reason he might have had, and it was not translated from Lev to Leo by his, say, English or American publishers. In German they use Lew Tolstoi and in French it’s Léon Tolstoï. Leo Tolstoy came from an old noble Russian family and in his childhood he had a German private tutor, and also a French one, as was customary in those days. French was the official language of the Russian court back then, and Tolstoy was called Leon (in French) by his family members, as you may read in his biography. Tolstoy signed his French letters and writings as Leon Tolstoi since he was a teenager, and Lew Tolstoi in German. I haven’t seen any letters written by Tolstoy in English in his early years, but years on his English letters were signed as Leo Tolstoy. Thus, Tolstoy himself was responsible for the different forms of his name in different languages.
PS. I guess you meant Jean-Jacques Rousseau up there… John-Jack Rousseau… I like it.
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