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I'm translating a tourist guide book from Czech to English and it turns out I have yet to grasp some of the grammatical structures possible.

I want the English translation to be quite simple and clear because I'm sure that it will be read by more non-native speakers of English rather than native ones. My problem is that I would like to specify many proper nouns. The reason for this is that even if a person from Czech isn't familiar with a proper noun, he or she can usually tell whether it's a person or a thing or a city etc., but this doesn't work for foreigners. When specifying, I can think of multiple structures but I'm not sure how good/off they sound. Thank you for taking the time to consider these (made-up) examples! I'm aware that some of them do sound strange/are incorrect, but listing them all should help me get a grip of this. Thanks!


(1) We visited the city of Ostrava, the town of Frýdek-Místek and the village of Morávka.

(2) We visited the city Ostrava, the town Frýdek-Místek and the village Morávka.

(3) We visited Ostrava City, Frýdek-Místek Town and Morávka Village.

(4) We visited the Ostrava City, the Frýdek-Místek Town and the Morávka Village.


(1) Here you can find out how the sweet Marlenka honeycake is made.

(2) Here you can find out how the sweet Marlenka Honeycake is made.

(3) Here you can find out how the sweet honeycake Marlenka is made.


(1) On the way back, make sure to stop at the U Břízy pub.

(2) On the way back, make sure to stop at the pub U Břízy.

(3) On the way back, make sure to stop at the pub 'U Břízy'.



EDIT:

Thank you all for your answers. What do you think of this 'generalization'?

@Mitch says, "When 'pub' comes before, the name of the pub is sort of an explanation," and I think that this exactly is what I'm after. So it seems that this 'helping' noun works fine before the proper noun as in

(A1) I like the computer game Borůvka. (A2) This place is ruled by the pagan god Vlasta. (A3) You can try the local beer Rozmar.

since we talk about general (?) things, but it gets more complicated when talking about geographical places, maybe because e.g. towns never take articles (So one needs an idiomatic way around it, such as "the town of X" etc.). How about other names of places?

(B1) You can try swimming in the reservoir Plešno. (B2) You can try swimming in the Plešno reservoir. (B3) You can try swimming in Plešno reservoir.

(C1) Visit the Beskydy Mountains. (C2) Visit the mountains Beskydy.

(D1) The highest peak is the Lysá Mountain. (D2) The highest peak is Lysá Mountain. (D3) The highest peak is the mountain Lysá.

And some miscellaneous words?

(E1) Accommodation is provided in the mountain hut Pepa. (E2) Accommodation is provided in the Pepa mountain hut.

(F1) Climb the Petřín observation tower. (F2) Climb the observation tower Petřín.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about the orthography of foreign proper nouns including characters that don't even exist in English (often, representing sounds that don't exist in English). Aug 9, 2015 at 15:22
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    I'm sorry but it's your comment that is off-topic. The ortography here is irrelevant; some of the names are even made up. The variations between the example sentences are clearly in the structure of the sentence/noun-phrase, i.e. English.
    – rnd
    Aug 9, 2015 at 15:26
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    I would suggest you go with option #1 in each case. Aug 9, 2015 at 15:29
  • I've expressed my view, as have you. SE is a "democracy", so we'll just have to wait and see what other users think. Aug 9, 2015 at 15:30
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    I think md is right about it being on topic. And yes option #1 in each case. If you capitalize descriptors like City they had better be part of the official name. Even if that's true it can still cause trouble. Translate "The Rio Grande River" literally and you get "The river, big, river" which is a bit redundant. Aug 9, 2015 at 15:45

4 Answers 4

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These are three separate but related questions, one for each set cities, honeycake and pub.

  • For the cities, the most idiomatic (I use that idiomatically meaning most natural) sentence is #1:

We visited the city of Ostrava, the town of Frýdek-Místek and the village of Morávka

Numbers 2 and 4 are ungrammatical; 'the city Ostrava' and 'the Ostrava city' are just wrong. Number 3 could work as a translation but only if the city is usually referred to using the word 'city'. For example, Carson City in Nevada can't be called Carson because that would be another city.

  • For the cake, all are OK; it depends on what you say in Czech. Do you always say 'Marlenka Cake'? In English one always says 'tiramisu' not 'tiramisu cake' but 'bundt cake' not 'bundt'. To me number 3 sounds best (assuming one says in the original Czech does not usually say 'Marlenka honeycake'. If it does, then either 1 or 2 is fine depending on how it is written in Czech.

  • For the pub, again all are OK. Quotes, without, pub before or after. When 'pub' comes before, the name of the pub is sort of an explanation. When after, the name of the pub is like an adjective. In Czech it may be the name of a pub but literally is 'at the birch trees' which is not at all a proper name; of course this irrelevant to what it sounds like in English.

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  • No serial comma and no upvote, plain and simple. :)
    – tchrist
    Aug 9, 2015 at 16:10
  • Thank you for your time! I've read and re-read your answer and it's shed some light on this. I've added some more examples to my original questions. I'd appreciate it very much if you could look at those. (And maybe see some more logic in the way the pairs sound.)
    – rnd
    Aug 9, 2015 at 17:23
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    @tchrist: Clearly that should have been 'the city of Oxford,...'. Aug 9, 2015 at 17:34
  • Your expanded question is getting a bit overloaded for a Q&A forum but I'll try to address them. Game, god, and beer OK. Is the reservoir actually called 'Plesno reservoir'? In the US it would usually be called 'the reservoir in Plesno' unless it really has the official name then B2 and B3 are OK. C! (C2 is ungrammatical). D2, (the other two are ungrammatical). E2 (E1 sounds weird unless people actually say Pepa without mountain hut). F1 (F2 sounds weird unless you really refer to the Petrin without 'observation tower)
    – Mitch
    Aug 9, 2015 at 19:04
  • @tchrist you caught me in my affectation of the chaotic mid-atlantic writing dialect where I randomly choose Oxford or Cambridge.
    – Mitch
    Aug 9, 2015 at 19:05
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In section 'A' 1 and 3 are most natural; and 2 is tolerable.
In 'B' 1 & 2 are nicer than 3.

That is simply opinion: but this is science...

'C' "On the way back, be sure to stop at.." would be more natural with any of your 1,2,3.

Ngram shows that "be sure to..." is more widely used than "make sure to..."

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    Thanks for pointing out the problem with the phrase and providing evidence. I'll be sure to use the correct one from now on. The core of the question however lies elsewhere.
    – rnd
    Aug 9, 2015 at 16:22
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In British English, (A1), (A2), (A3) are all good.

In your first example "We visited the city of Ostrava, the town of Frýdek-Místek and the village of Morávka" it might be better to say "we visited Ostrava, Frýdek-Místek, and Morávka" and then add the adjective "city", "town" or "village" when you describe each place, for example "The village of Morávka is famous for ...."

English proper names of some places may include words like "city", for example New York City in the USA is not the same place as the state of New York. The same applies to mountains.

(B2) is good. or "You can try swimming in the reservoir at Plešno."

(C1) is good.

(D): In English, the proper name of a mountain might be "the X" (for example "the Matterhorn" or "the Cuillins" in Scotland), or it might include the word "mountain" (for example the "Sugarloaf Mountain" in Wales), or even both ("the Black Mountains," also in Wales). If that does not apply to the Czech names, (D) seems the same as (C), so use (C1).

(E2) and (F1) are good.

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  • Thank you for your time! As for the note towards the first example, I agree and this is how I'd go about it if there was room for it but there isn't. And then you say which are good, which I can 'sort of' feel, but... frankly... from a grammatical point of view, I cannot see a difference between 'I like the computer game Borůvka' and 'I like the observation tower Petřín'.
    – rnd
    Aug 9, 2015 at 18:45
  • I assumed that "Borůvka'" is the name of the computer game, but "Petřín" is the name of the place where the tower is built, not the name of the tower itself. You could say "I like the observation tower at Petřín" or "near Petřín". If the Czechs really do give their observation towers names, then you are right and I am wrong.
    – alephzero
    Aug 9, 2015 at 20:18
  • Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. Thanks for your answers!
    – rnd
    Aug 9, 2015 at 21:58
  • Since (at least in the UK) things like observation towers usually do not have names, it might be clearer for an English reader to put the name in quotes to show that it is a proper name: 'the computer game "Borůvka'" and the observation tower "Petřín".' But that suggestion does not apply to towns or mountains.
    – alephzero
    Aug 9, 2015 at 22:47
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This is responding mostly to the edit on 'generalization'.

What you're dealing with in some of these cases is what in English is called an appositive, which is a phrase that explains a nearby noun or pronoun.

One thing to note is that in many cases, you want to use a comma to set them off. In fact it's probably more common to use it than not in English, especially in something like a tour guide where what the names indicate is not well-known.

The problem is that sometimes the comma should not be used. It's a bit tricky to know when, but use it when giving a particular name of something, especially when it's unfamiliar to the reader.

Here's a decent overview of appositives and how they're commonly used.

A few of the other examples you've given when the nouns come after each other are noun modifiers. Yes, it's probably hard to tell the difference.

Examples (A) are all appositives.

(A1) should not have a comma in general. Borůvka is one of many computer games.

(A2) probably should not, if Vlasta is the name of one pagan god out of many in the region or is known for ruling other places.

(A3) probably should have a comma, however:

(A3a) You can try the local beer, Rozmar.

A comma is preferable here since Rozmar is the name of the local beer you want them to know about. This phrasing helps a tourist know both what it is and its name, in a natural way.

(B1a) You can try swimming in the reservoir, Plešno.

You're using an appositive to give additional information, but only do this if that is the actual name of the reservoir.

(B2) is using Plešno as a modifier of 'reservoir'. (B2) might mean 'the reservoir at the [town/region] of Plešno'. Use this phrasing if that is what is meant.

(B3) is wrong because you still need a determiner ('the'). The requirement for 'the' goes away if it is a proper noun, but it would have to be named 'Plešno Reservoir'.

I'm skipping C & D because E & F show off the difference better.

(E1a) Accommodation is provided in the mountain hut, Pepa.

Appositive. Use this if that's the actual name of that hut, and use a comma.

(E2) Accommodation is provided in the Pepa mountain hut.

Noun modifier. This can mean the hut for that area, or even the brand name of a company that makes mountain huts.

(F1) Climb the Petřín observation tower.

Noun modifier. The tower might be located in Petřín, or it might be for observing Petřín.

(F2a) Climb the observation tower, Petřín.

Appositive. Use, as said, only if that is the name of the tower.

Something else to note is that appositives can be 'flipped' around, but that can alter the meaning slightly. Consider:

(M1) I like the computer game Borůvka.

(M2a) I like Borůvka, the computer game.

(M2b) I like Borůvka the computer game.

(M1) and (M2a) are identical in meaning. You'd probably use (M2a) when using the word and guessing that the listener didn't know what Borůvka is.

You'd use (M2b) if you are comparing this to Borůvka the movie or Borůvka the beer. In speaking, the words 'computer game' would probably be given more emphasis.

(M3) I like the Borůvka computer game.

This is using Borůvka as a noun modifier. Note the determiner 'the' comes before the modifier.

(M3) can have the same meaning as (M2b), but could also indicate a game from a company of that name.

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