Pet Intellectual Peeves

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Volante
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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

Post by Volante »

gnash wrote:
Volante wrote:
Rex Kramer wrote: I am fascinated by the fact that this point has been debated on these Boards and their predecessors at such length. Not necessarily depth, but certainly length. ;)
Zing.

For me, whatever he introduced himself as is how I'd introduce him. With a syllable sucker like Giovanni, though, I would secretly hope he offers up an acceptable shorthand version.
Giovanni has no more syllables than Volante. Should we call you Vo?
Vol* but I count 4 and 3...
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Ahh, I see what I was doing. Apparently I still haven't caught on permanent like that 'gio' is not 'gee-oh'.
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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

Post by Rex Kramer »

gnash wrote:None of that is relevant. Personal names behave completely differently from names of countries.
Hence my remark about lack of depth. The discussion will not really progress if one's justification for refusing to examine the different assumptions y'all are making about how names work is the fact that there exist different assumptions about how names work. Your refusal to consider my hypothetical on grounds of relevance presumptively eliminates any benefit we might see from considering why different kinds of names (first names, last names, nicknames) are treated differently in different contexts (personal, official) and then, by analogy, identifying more clearly the bases for each of our positions on the use of national names, and whether or not there is any room for understanding or compromise.
gnash wrote:Note that the exception to personal names are names of monarchs - they are typically translated, and that may be related to the fact that they represent the country as much as the person.
Which is why all those Marines were cursing Emperor Abundant Benevolence back in WWII!

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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

Post by gnash »

OldSchoolChamp wrote:I say Iran and Ethiopia, not Persia and Abyssinia, I suppose because those changes happened before I was born. I remember when Siam became Thailand, but the change is so long established that it feels perfectly natural by now. I say Zambia and Zimbabwe, not Northern and Southern Rhodesia; Malawi and Botswana, not Nyasaland and Bechuanaland. I’m comfortable with Beijing instead of Peking, but can’t bring myself to say Guangdong instead of Canton, or Myanmar and Yangon instead of Burma and Rangoon. Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large, I contain multitudes.
I agree with everything OSC wrote on this topic, but I think there is a well-accepted principle that explains a few of the "inconsistencies". By and large, we have accepted name changes proclaimed by former colonies when they gained independence. That explains Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana and a few other countries. I think it just feels right to most people that a liberated nation has a right to get rid of the symbols of colonial rule, including its colonial name. But to turn that upside-down, and insist on everybody using its colonial name in the language of its colonizers, that has neither moral nor logical justification.

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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

Post by gnash »

Rex Kramer wrote:
gnash wrote:None of that is relevant. Personal names behave completely differently from names of countries.
Hence my remark about lack of depth. The discussion will not really progress if one's justification for refusing to examine the different assumptions y'all are making about how names work is the fact that there exist different assumptions about how names work. Your refusal to consider my hypothetical on grounds of relevance presumptively eliminates any benefit we might see from considering why different kinds of names (first names, last names, nicknames) are treated differently in different contexts (personal, official) and then, by analogy, identifying more clearly the bases for each of our positions on the use of national names, and whether or not there is any room for understanding or compromise.
But we are discussing reasons and principles here. OSC has explained and illustrated some principles. I tried to do the same. Even when dismissing your example as irrelevant, I explained why it was irrelevant for the discussion of country names.
gnash wrote:Note that the exception to personal names are names of monarchs - they are typically translated, and that may be related to the fact that they represent the country as much as the person.
Which is why all those Marines were cursing Emperor Abundant Benevolence back in WWII!

Rex
If we had more familiarity with Japanese, maybe we would translate the names of their monarchs as well. Or if they had translations that would be recognized as proper names in English.

And there is a lot of inconsistency with royal names. We say Juan Carlos, not John Charles, which would follow the traditional "rule". Part of it may be that monarchs are less important today and don't personify their states as much as they used to. But then, we also say Franz Josef (or sometimes Joseph, but usually still pronounced the German way) and we call the French Louises "Louie". Not much regularity - that's why there isn't much to discuss about principles beyond "language resists forced changes".

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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

Post by Rex Kramer »

gnash wrote:But we are discussing reasons and principles here. OSC has explained and illustrated some principles. I tried to do the same.


Well, in fairness to you, your response was not irrational; it merely conflicted with what I was hoping to achieve. My hypothesis is that the disagreement about Ivory Cote may be based entirely on a disagreement about the usages of names in general, entirely on a disagreement about the uses of country names in particular, or partly on a disagreement about general usage and partly on a disagreement about country names specifically. If everyone's answers to my questions had coincided, it might have indicated some general agreement about the use of personal names, at least, thus hopefully eliminating one variable and serving as a cooperative starting point from which we could explore the distinctions between personal and country names as the source of the disagreement about Coast d'Ivoire.
gnash wrote:Even when dismissing your example as irrelevant, I explained why it was irrelevant for the discussion of country names.
I don't see how you explained why it was irrelevant, other than making the broad assertion, "Personal names behave completely differently from names of countries," which is basically saying "It's irrelevant because it's irrelevant." That's not a why; it's a that. Plus, it is unnuanced and thus leaves no room for discussion. Someone could argue, say, "We grant personal names a certain level of respect because it reflects a humane recognition of the identity of the individual named; if a group of individuals unite to choose a name for their own country, then to the extent that that choice reflects the identities of those individuals, we should grant the same kind of respect to the chosen name," but the assertion that personal names behave completely differently from names of countries assassinates that argument a priori. It may well be that that argument is weak and can be overcome by a persuasive counterargument, but that counterargument will never rise to the surface and do its persuading if it is smothered by a blanket "Personal names are just different".

More food for thought (not just for Gnash, whom I have harassed more than enough):

- Why did we call it the "USSR" but one of its arms "KGB"?
- If there is a Stephan Cherniquoff sipping Bordeaux under the Eiffel Towel and thinking, "Steve Jobs cannot tell moi what to think -- I say it's 'Pomme'!", is he right?
- Does it matter that "Japan" is not actually a translation of "Nippon"? If we call "Cote d'Ivoire" "Ivory Coast", shouldn't we call "China" "Middle Kingdom"?
- If Venezuela decides that from now on, the term for "United States of America" is "Satanic Hegemaniac", and insists on using that term on all official correspondence, treaties, etc. with the U.S., is there a principled argument that they must stop? (I mean something other than "We'll make them stop" or "It will do them more harm than good", which are causal arguments.)

Rex

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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

Post by --Pete »

Hi,
Rex Kramer wrote: Suppose you meet a man, born in Italy, who introduces himself as "Giovanni Verdi -- but my former co-workers called me 'Il Mago', because I could get miraculous things done". He has just moved to this country and will be working for the same company you work for, and he asks you for help in meeting co-workers and also in getting a driver's license.

1) When you introduce him to co-workers by first name, which one or more of these options would you find acceptable: a) Giovanni; b) Joe; c) John ? Which would you personally prefer?
2) When you introduce him to co-workers by last name ("Mr. __"), which one or more of these options would you find acceptable: a) Verdi; b) Green ? Which would you personally prefer?
3) When you tell people his nickname, which one or more of these options would you find acceptable: a) Il Mago; b) The Magician ? Which would you personally prefer?
4) When you help him fill out his license application, which of the options in (1) and (2) would you find acceptable? Which would you personally prefer?
For 1, I'd ask him his preference and go with that. I might suggest to him that the Anglicized version of his first name might be easier for his co-workers to use, but I would not make a big deal of it.

For 2, unless he was planning a name change, I'd stick with Verdi.

For 3, I'd try to avoid the issue. If his nickname was Il Magro, I'd probably introduce him as Slim. But Magician? He'll need to earn that all over again on this side of the pond.

For 4, it would again be his choice. He is free to use any name he wants to use, however consistency would be convenient. He can even keep "Giovanni Verdi" and demand it be pronounced Tolliver.

I, too, fail to see any strong correlation between the names of people and those of countries. I also think a lot of the name issue is related to what one first learned. For instance, Sri Lanka is still Ceylon to me, and I have to pause a split second to get it "right".

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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

Post by dhkendall »

OldSchoolChamp wrote:I still think “Côte d’Ivoire” is a politically correct affectation, and I will have none of it. 
Personally, I'm of a completely different mindset than you (I have no problem with "Cote d'Ivoire", I even use "Timor Leste" even though that's an even less popular "PC affectation") but I completely respect your reason for staying with the old name. My view is, as long as your meaning is clear it's good (which is why either will get you points on Jeopardy!, unless the clue was "this country's capital city is London"). The only ones who really have to worry about what to call it are other nation's governments, and nobody on the board is a foreign government.

I also think that there were some good points raised about timing of name changes, seems to be that the rule of thumb is that if they adopt the name upon independence, it's usually accepted (the country is making a new start after its colonial past" - example: Gold Coast becoming Ghana), if it's been a while since independence, it will take a while to adopt, if at all (I'm sure that Thailand and Persia had a lot of resistance at first).
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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

Post by Vanya »

Rex Kramer wrote:[Let me ask OSC and Vanya specifically, but more generally anyone else who is interested in answering, this multivariate hypothetical:

Suppose you meet a man, born in Italy, who introduces himself as "Giovanni Verdi -- but my former co-workers called me 'Il Mago', because I could get miraculous things done". He has just moved to this country and will be working for the same company you work for, and he asks you for help in meeting co-workers and also in getting a driver's license.

1) When you introduce him to co-workers by first name, which one or more of these options would you find acceptable: a) Giovanni; b) Joe; c) John ? Which would you personally prefer?
2) When you introduce him to co-workers by last name ("Mr. __"), which one or more of these options would you find acceptable: a) Verdi; b) Green ? Which would you personally prefer?
3) When you tell people his nickname, which one or more of these options would you find acceptable: a) Il Mago; b) The Magician ? Which would you personally prefer?
4) When you help him fill out his license application, which of the options in (1) and (2) would you find acceptable? Which would you personally prefer?

Rex
It doesn't matter what I personally prefer; I will call Mr. Verdi what ever he wants. It will greatly simplify matters for him if his driver's license matches his passport and/or green card.

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Re: Pet Intellectual Peeves

Post by Vanya »

I doubt that the gov't or the citizens of Côte d'Ivoire are upset that a few ugly Americans refuse to call it that.

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Re: Pet Intellectual Peeves

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Vanya wrote:I doubt that the gov't or the citizens of Côte d'Ivoire are upset that a few ugly Americans refuse to call it that.
On my drive home yesterday, I saw about a dozen embassy staffers circling on the sidewalk with signs demanding that people refer to their country by its French name. A few Uniformed Secret Service officers watched from across the street to prevent mayhem from breaking out.

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Re: Pet Intellectual Peeves

Post by Volante »

alietr wrote:
Vanya wrote:I doubt that the gov't or the citizens of Côte d'Ivoire are upset that a few ugly Americans refuse to call it that.
On my drive home yesterday, I saw about a dozen embassy staffers circling on the sidewalk with signs demanding that people refer to their country by its French name. A few Uniformed Secret Service officers watched from across the street to prevent mayhem from breaking out.
Does that mean they read the forum? :D
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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

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Rex Kramer wrote:- If there is a Stephan Cherniquoff sipping Bordeaux under the Eiffel Towel and thinking, "Steve Jobs cannot tell moi what to think
Can IBM?

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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

Post by gnash »

Rex Kramer wrote:I don't see how you explained why it was irrelevant, other than making the broad assertion, "Personal names behave completely differently from names of countries," which is basically saying "It's irrelevant because it's irrelevant." That's not a why; it's a that. Plus, it is unnuanced and thus leaves no room for discussion. Someone could argue, say, "We grant personal names a certain level of respect because it reflects a humane recognition of the identity of the individual named; if a group of individuals unite to choose a name for their own country, then to the extent that that choice reflects the identities of those individuals, we should grant the same kind of respect to the chosen name," but the assertion that personal names behave completely differently from names of countries assassinates that argument a priori. It may well be that that argument is weak and can be overcome by a persuasive counterargument, but that counterargument will never rise to the surface and do its persuading if it is smothered by a blanket "Personal names are just different".
I am afraid you are asking for more than is possible. I can't explain why language behaves the way it does, and even top experts in linguistic usually say they only describe, but not explain, things like preservation or translation of names. A good description identifies common themes, which may appear to be principles or rules, but they generally have a lot of exceptions. There just aren't any firm rules, especially not in English, which is a language without a recognized authority. (Maybe there are more firm rules in French. There are some in Croatian, but they are broken nevertheless, often due to practical limitations, such as most people having no idea how some name is pronounced in its language of origin.)
More food for thought (not just for Gnash, whom I have harassed more than enough):

- Why did we call it the "USSR" but one of its arms "KGB"?
For the same reason the entire world translates "USA" into their native languages, but most (perhaps all) call the CIA "CIA". (Also, they typically pronounce "CIA" their own way, just like we pronounce "KGB" the English way.) Names of organizations, like names of companies (see below) are typically treated like names of people. (That doesn't have anything to do with Mr. Willard Romney, BTW.) The United Nations and some of its branches are a notable exception - they are usually translated. So is the WTO and (obviously) the Red Cross, but not, say, Amnesty International, so let's not jump to conclusions that there is a special rule for international organizations.
- If there is a Stephan Cherniquoff sipping Bordeaux under the Eiffel Towel and thinking, "Steve Jobs cannot tell moi what to think -- I say it's 'Pomme'!", is he right?
Company names are almost never translated. One "reason" is the linguistic tradition/phenomenology discussed above - names of organizations are usually treated like names of people - but in this case there may also be legal and business reasons - protection of trademarks, effort to promote name recognition, etc. I can't think of any company or brand names that are translated, although there are some that vary across markets. (Specific product names often vary across markets.)
- Does it matter that "Japan" is not actually a translation of "Nippon"? If we call "Cote d'Ivoire" "Ivory Coast", shouldn't we call "China" "Middle Kingdom"?
It doesn't matter at all, and your statement is only correct in a limited sense. Most country names are not "translated" at the semantic level of the etymology or underlying meaning of the words in the name, which is what you are discussing. But "Japan" is indeed the translation of "Nippon" at the semantic level of name as the label of an object.
- If Venezuela decides that from now on, the term for "United States of America" is "Satanic Hegemaniac", and insists on using that term on all official correspondence, treaties, etc. with the U.S., is there a principled argument that they must stop? (I mean something other than "We'll make them stop" or "It will do them more harm than good", which are causal arguments.)

Rex
"Venezuela decides" implies a purely political, rather than linguistic, development, so the appropriate response is a purely political question.

For a linguistic analogy, consider that the word for "Germany" in most (all?) Slavic languages literally means "Land of Mutes". I don't see a diplomatic issue arising from it; for example, the German Embassy in Zagreb has no problem displaying the name in the host country's language. (OK, they did try to destroy a few Slavic countries in the 20th century, but I don't think that was related to the name...)

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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

Post by dhkendall »

gnash wrote:
Rex Kramer wrote:If there is a Stephan Cherniquoff sipping Bordeaux under the Eiffel Towel and thinking, "Steve Jobs cannot tell moi what to think -- I say it's 'Pomme'!", is he right?
Company names are almost never translated. One "reason" is the linguistic tradition/phenomenology discussed above - names of organizations are usually treated like names of people - but in this case there may also be legal and business reasons - protection of trademarks, effort to promote name recognition, etc. I can't think of any company or brand names that are translated, although there are some that vary across markets. (Specific product names often vary across markets.)
I'm wondering, though, if M. Cherniquoff registered a company or took out a trademark under the name "Les Ordinateurs Pommes" (my attempt at translating "Apple Computers" from my somewhat limited knowledge of French and not relying on Google Translate) would he hear from Steve Jobs and his Pack of Angry Lawyers*?
gnash wrote:
- If Venezuela decides that from now on, the term for "United States of America" is "Satanic Hegemaniac", and insists on using that term on all official correspondence, treaties, etc. with the U.S., is there a principled argument that they must stop? (I mean something other than "We'll make them stop" or "It will do them more harm than good", which are causal arguments.)

Rex
"Venezuela decides" implies a purely political, rather than linguistic, development, so the appropriate response is a purely political question.
I've never heard Ahmadinejad refer to Israel as anything but "the Zionist entity". The fact there are no official diplomatic relations means that he can't say so in an official diplomatic context, but that is an example. Another is all those nations calling Macedonia by a name which they don't want to be called (usually The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) until things are settled with the Greeks. I think that for many of those nations (Greece for sure) that TFYROM is what that nation is called in official correspondence, much to Macedonia's chagrin. So, Rex, there is your precedent that you are looking for, I think.

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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

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dhkendall wrote:I'm wondering, though, if M. Cherniquoff registered a company or took out a trademark under the name "Les Ordinateurs Pommes" (my attempt at translating "Apple Computers" from my somewhat limited knowledge of French and not relying on Google Translate) would he hear from Steve Jobs and his Pack of Angry Lawyers*?
Assuming that Apple is trademarked in France, then I'd certainly think so.

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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

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dhkendall wrote:I'm wondering, though, if M. Cherniquoff registered a company or took out a trademark under the name "Les Ordinateurs Pommes" (my attempt at translating "Apple Computers" from my somewhat limited knowledge of French and not relying on Google Translate) would he hear from Steve Jobs and his Pack of Angry Lawyers*?
The answer is yes. If you do anything Apple doesn't like, they'll sue you.
I've never heard Ahmadinejad refer to Israel as anything but "the Zionist entity". The fact there are no official diplomatic relations means that he can't say so in an official diplomatic context, but that is an example.
Well, Ahmadinejad doesn't recognize Israel as a country (or so we are told), so it is hardly an issue of how someone calls a country...
Another is all those nations calling Macedonia by a name which they don't want to be called (usually The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) until things are settled with the Greeks. I think that for many of those nations (Greece for sure) that TFYROM is what that nation is called in official correspondence, much to Macedonia's chagrin.
That's a different issue, too. No one rational cares what the Greeks call Macedonia. The problem is that the Greeks want to impose on the rest of the world what to call it. That is one step more brazen than what the Ivorians do. Actually, the Greeks' first preference would be not to recognize Macedonia as a country at all - the Ahmadinejad approach - but the world doesn't look kindly on such bullies, so the compromise was that Greece was allowed a temper tantrum about the name in exchange for recognizing Macedonia. The result is that Macedonia has a strange and long official name in the UN and at the Olympics and such. However, that doesn't mean that anybody (other than Greeks) actually calls it FYROM, or that it the name that many countries use in official communication. Croatia certainly doesn't. I don't know if any country other than Greece (and probably Cyprus) does.

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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

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gnash wrote:
dhkendall wrote:I'm wondering, though, if M. Cherniquoff registered a company or took out a trademark under the name "Les Ordinateurs Pommes" (my attempt at translating "Apple Computers" from my somewhat limited knowledge of French and not relying on Google Translate) would he hear from Steve Jobs and his Pack of Angry Lawyers*?
The answer is yes. If you do anything Apple doesn't like, they'll sue you.
True, Apple has that right, but then they should have the same right to complain about "Cherniquoff Technology" by that logic. "Les Ordinateurs Pommes" is not the name they do business under in France (not 100% sure of that, but I'm assuming they don't), which is the crux of my question.
gnash wrote:
Another is all those nations calling Macedonia by a name which they don't want to be called (usually The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) until things are settled with the Greeks. I think that for many of those nations (Greece for sure) that TFYROM is what that nation is called in official correspondence, much to Macedonia's chagrin.
That's a different issue, too. No one rational cares what the Greeks call Macedonia. The problem is that the Greeks want to impose on the rest of the world what to call it. That is one step more brazen than what the Ivorians do. Actually, the Greeks' first preference would be not to recognize Macedonia as a country at all - the Ahmadinejad approach - but the world doesn't look kindly on such bullies, so the compromise was that Greece was allowed a temper tantrum about the name in exchange for recognizing Macedonia. The result is that Macedonia has a strange and long official name in the UN and at the Olympics and such. However, that doesn't mean that anybody (other than Greeks) actually calls it FYROM, or that it the name that many countries use in official communication. Croatia certainly doesn't. I don't know if any country other than Greece (and probably Cyprus) does.
Actually, more countries than you think use FYROM for all official purposes, apparently. (Australia actually doesn't surprise me, with its substantial Greek community.)
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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

Post by Volante »

dhkendall wrote: True, Apple has that right, but then they should have the same right to complain about "Cherniquoff Technology" by that logic. "Les Ordinateurs Pommes" is not the name they do business under in France (not 100% sure of that, but I'm assuming they don't), which is the crux of my question.
And they DO have the same right to complain about "Cherniquoff Technology." (Doesn't mean anything will be done about it...but they can still complain.)
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Re: Ya doesn’t hasta call me Johnson

Post by gnash »

dhkendall wrote:
gnash wrote:
Another is all those nations calling Macedonia by a name which they don't want to be called (usually The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) until things are settled with the Greeks. I think that for many of those nations (Greece for sure) that TFYROM is what that nation is called in official correspondence, much to Macedonia's chagrin.
That's a different issue, too. No one rational cares what the Greeks call Macedonia. The problem is that the Greeks want to impose on the rest of the world what to call it. That is one step more brazen than what the Ivorians do. Actually, the Greeks' first preference would be not to recognize Macedonia as a country at all - the Ahmadinejad approach - but the world doesn't look kindly on such bullies, so the compromise was that Greece was allowed a temper tantrum about the name in exchange for recognizing Macedonia. The result is that Macedonia has a strange and long official name in the UN and at the Olympics and such. However, that doesn't mean that anybody (other than Greeks) actually calls it FYROM, or that it the name that many countries use in official communication. Croatia certainly doesn't. I don't know if any country other than Greece (and probably Cyprus) does.
Actually, more countries than you think use FYROM for all official purposes, apparently. (Australia actually doesn't surprise me, with its substantial Greek community.)
Most of those are Greece's fellow EU members and, when you follow the links that document the naming in Wikipedia, it isn't always so clear. I looked up the German link because I could understand it reasonably well. (The posted link actually gave a 404, but it was easy to find the right page.) And the gist of it is, there is the UN-style name, with an asterisk, and an explanation that the name is subject to a Greco-Macedonian dispute. BTW, it is notable that a lot of EU members use "Republic of Macedonia" (or, rather, their language version of it).

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Re: Pet Intellectual Peeves

Post by Vanya »

Speaking of calling countries by the wrong name:

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/311427

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