August 24, 2012

Translated Names: Baseball Edition

Let's make it three baseball posts in a row.

Some players already have clearly evocative English-language names: Prince Fielder, Urban Shocker, Mike Trout, or even Babe Ruth. Ignoring for now that not all of those examples are actual birth names, I thought I'd translate some other famous players' names.

Here's an easy one, Miguel Cabrera is Spanish for Michael Goat-Herder. (Michael is apparently Hebrew for the rhetorical question "Who is like God?" but if it translates to a standard English name without a funny meaning, I'm just gonna stop at the English name.)

The hell if I know what Melky means (maybe it comes from Malachi?) so feel free to call that particular Cabrera Goat Melk, if you think that's interesting. It's not really that funny, to be honest.

Carlos Beltran enters English as the medieval-sounding Charles Bertrand, Bertrand being old Germanic for "bright rim" as in the rim of a shield, which could just not be any more German.

Staying on the Cardinals, Yadier Molina means Friend Mill, and that's adorable.

Verlander means "pasture dweller."

Ryan and Jordan Zimmerman can be literally read as Ryan and Jordan Carpenter, of no relation to the dozen or so actual "Carpenters" in Major League history.

Ryan Braun's last name already has an English meaning, but it actually comes from the slightly-more-archaic word "brand," in the sense of branding a cow, more or less, you know, using a firebrand. It's that practice that led to the more common modern sense of "brand" as in "brand name" or "company brand."

Both Roy Halladay and Matt Holliday's last names mean "Holy Day," or, you know "holiday," traditionally a name given to those born on, yup, holidays.

Bryce Harper's last name doesn't technically need a translation, but it's not immediately clear that it means "professional harp player."

Brian McCann has flat-out sucked this year, but his last name will always mean "son of Cano," (not CanĂ³) with Cano meaning "wolf cub." "Son of the Wolf Cub." Patronyms don't often work well in literal translation.