Why do French people say “Londres”? That’s not its real name!

This was a real question from a club member. The ensuing discussion led several children to recognise that not everyone sees the world from the same point of view — a really important lesson in language learning, not to mention for life in general!

We’d just learned that the French name for our capital city is Londres, and it raised the question of why they don’t use the “real” name, London.

“You see this big country over here?” I asked. “Why do we call it Germany?”

“Um… because that’s its name!”

“But its real name is Deutschland… isn’t it?”

Some children took longer to cotton on than others, but they slowly realised that Londres vs. London and Germany vs. Deutschland is exactly the same thing. I threw in the terms exonym and endonym, to put a label on what they had just understood – that we’re just as foreign as anyone else, as soon as we go abroad.

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