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I'm translating a series of short tourism-related texts from Croatian to English and I can't find definitive answers for some of my dilemmas:

Names of waterfalls / caves / trails & word order

Are they capitalised the same as river / mountain / etc.?

Is there a rule on whether they should be used before or after the actual name (if the place in question is not big or famous enough to have an English name for it used consistently)?

What is correct:

Lorem Waterfall / Waterfall Lorem

Ipsum Cave / Cave Ipsum

Educational Trail Lorem / Lorem Educational Trail / Lorem educational trail (or any other combination)

Forest Trail Ipsum / Ipsum Forest Trail / Ipsum forest trail...

This has been driving me crazy, so thank you in advance!

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First, this is a matter of style, rather than a grammatical matter. Therefore, there will be differing opinions. Does the publishing firm you are working with on the translations have a house style manual? If so, you should follow that. If not, then I would suggest picking one of the major style manuals used by many English language publications (such as The Associated Press Stylebook or The Chicago Manual of Style) and following that style.

The AP Stylebook has this entry for capitalization of geographic names:

Capitalize common nouns when they form an integral part of a proper name, but lowercase them when they stand alone: Pennsylvania Avenue, the avenue; the Philippine Islands, the island; the Mississippi River, the river.

Lowercase common nouns that are not part of a specific name: the Pacific islands, the Swiss mountains, Zhejiang province.

If you follow this particular style, and want to apply them to your examples, you will need to decide if the name of the geographic feature (waterfall, cave, trail) is actually a part of the proper name. If so, I would go with:

  • Lorem Waterfall
  • Ipsum Cave
  • Lorem Educational Trail

If you do not (or local custom does not) deem the geographic feature as part of the proper name, then you could lowercase them:

  • Lorem waterfall
  • Ipsum cave
  • Lorem educational trail

In each case, I would put the proper name first. As a native English speaker, it sounds better to me. Of course, there are counter-examples (such as Loch Ness or Lake Superior).

As I said, this is a matter of style. Consistency is the key. Also, if you're working with an editor, they will help you decide how their publication would handle this.

  • Thank you, this helps a lot! It's the matter of consistency that's been tripping me up the most, I think. Local custom does not usually use geographic feature as part of the proper name, but the English language seems to do so, so I'm unsure whether to rely more on the original or target language, especially when it comes to less known localities. (The texts are for a website, so no publishing firm or editor.) – evenity Feb 7 '17 at 15:20
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    @evenity Always, always go for the target language. If you replicate the original language order or capitalisation, it will read like it's been written by a foreigner. Even in English, there are regional differences (River Thames, Potomac River). – Andrew Leach Feb 7 '17 at 16:10
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Before or after? Whatever is customary.

Massachusetts Bay but the Bay of Biscay
Mount Everest but Lookout Mountain

If there is no previous English usage, I would go with adjective before noun: Lorem Waterfall and Ipsum Cave. But it would not be wrong to try the Waterfall of Lorem or Cave Ipsum.

Do use initial capital letters for a proper name.

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    The order seems to be a matter of local taste. For instance, when I moved from the KS Flint Hills to Kansas City, I noticed the locals here refer to US Route 50 as "50 Highway", but back home it was always "Highway 50". – Monty Harder Feb 7 '17 at 15:58
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    People will now post a hundred counterexamples to show that I'm wrong but... as far as I can see, it's always "Mount X" rather than "X Mount", and always "Y Mountain" rather than "Mountain Y" (and, if not always, I'll stand by "almost always"). I also can't think of any "Falls of Z" or "Cave W", so I'm inclined to say that those two are wrong. – David Richerby Feb 7 '17 at 18:49
  • Jerusalem's "Temple Mount" aka "Dome of the Rock" is the famous counterexample, but it probably would be too politically contentious to make it part of this answer.. – Monty Harder Feb 7 '17 at 23:03

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