München, België

Years ago, when I was traveling through Mexico, I found myself constantly correcting people’s pronunciation of my name. My name is Gabriel – and it sounds just like it’s spelled. But the people of Mexico kept insisting that my name was Gabriella. It couldn’t possibly be Gabriel, because Gabriel was a man’s name. And I was clearly not a man. This is true, I would say. Nonetheless, my name is Gabriel – there’s no translation for a name. It just is what it is. In America, I would still call you Jose or Juan – I wouldn’t change it to Joe or John. Why? Because that’s your name. It’s as simple as that.

But it’s not that simple. Not really. I know this. Still, I was surprised to learn that place names are also changed. And I’m curious as to why that happens. Sure, I know that pronunciations differ from place to place – Mexico in Mexico is pronounced Meheeco. And even Italy, in some places, is pronounced Italia. Okay. Close enough. But, I have to ask – what the heck is going on with Munich and Belgium?

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