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How to Write Famous Foreign Names in Spanish

Do you know how to write the names of famous people such as Michelangelo or Jules Verne in Spanish? While keeping the name in its original language is today's rule of thumb, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. Let's take a look.


Well-established Spanish Equivalent Names

Even if today, the preferred choice is to simply transfer the original name, there are several names of famous historical figures that are usually translated. The following is a list of some of them:


Thomas Moore - Tomás Moro

Albrecht Dürer - Alberto Durero

Hieronymus Bosch - Jerónimo Bosco; el Bosco

Michelangelo Buonarotti - Miguel Ángel


Miguel Ángel, el gran artista italiano.

Michelangelo, the great Italian artist.

Caption 19, Aprendiendo con Carlos - El microrrelato

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Jeanne d’Arc - Juana de Arco

Karl Marx - Carlos Marx

Niccolo Machiavelli - Nicolás Maquiavelo

Jules Verne - Julio Verne

Johann Sebastian Bach - Juan Sebastián Bach

Alexandre Dumas - Alejandro Dumas

Martin Luther - Martín Lutero


Names of Saints, Popes, and Royalty

This is another exception to the rule. Let's see a couple of examples:


Queen Elizabeth II - reina Isabel II

Prince Philip - príncipe Felipe


Su marido es el príncipe Felipe, duque de Edimburgo.

Her husband is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Captions 25-26, El Aula Azul - Adivina personajes famosos

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Pope Ioannes Paulus II (Latin); John Paul II (English) - Juan Pablo II


Fuimos a la beatificación del Papa Juan Pablo Segundo.

We went to the beatification of Pope John Paul the Second.

Caption 9, Latinos por el mundo - Chilenas en Venecia

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Nicknames of Famous Historical Figures

In order to preserve their semantic connotations, the nicknames of famous historical figures are also translated into Spanish:


Ivan Vasilyevich; Ivan the Terrible (English) - Iván el Terrible

Pépin le Bref (French); Pepin the Short (English) - Pepino el Breve


Considering all of the above, the important thing to keep in mind is this: Although the current trend is in favor of the original form, there are some famous names that currently alternate the use of the transferred form and its translation. For example, instead of using the original Catalan name Antoni Gaudí, you could use its Spanish version (Antonio Gaudí), just as our friend Víctor does in his series about this famous architect:


Antonio Gaudí era catalán y lo decía con mucho orgullo.

Antoni Gaudí was Catalan, and he said it with great pride.

Caption 16, Víctor en España - Vida y legado de Antonio Gaudí

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And that's all for today. By the way, do you know what the Spanish equivalent of your name is? Find out and let us know, and don't forget to send us your questions and comments


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