How much do you like using non-English terms in game?

So, I'm writing a Venetian thing for when the open license comes out and wanted to test the community temperature on a question about how I write.

In my draft, the place names are all in Venetian (by which I mean a dialect of modern Italian). Do people prefer that or English?

Piazza San Marco or Saint Mark's Square?
Fondaco dei Hermetico or Warehouse of Magicians?
Canalasso or Grand Canal?
Compagnie della Calza or Company of Stockings?
San Zaccaria or Saint Zachariah?
Corno ducale or Ducal cap?

I'll keep some things regardless: Doge, not Duke, La Fenice, not Pheonix, because they are unique terms.



I don't mind there being place names in Venetian, but I would greatly appreciate a page that lists them, and their equivalent English name.


I think local names provide some colour but I agree with @Red-Shadow-Claws that having translations available would be useful.


I personally would put the translation between parenthesis after the real name of the place. The reader can choose if they want to pronounce it one way or another. My preference is always the original term, even if I have to make somewhat of an effort to pronounce it.


In my own notes I have the translation in parenthesis after, because only some of the characters speak Northern Italian (or whatever) and would know the meaning, whereas for the others it's just unfamiliar words.


Original names give an enormous plus to the atmosphere of a setting or adventure. So please keep them! :slight_smile:


With place names, I prefer English so I can easily use them to locate the place on Google maps.


For place names and things like streets, I favor English (or what ever language the document is in). If you are going to use the local language form then there needs to be a translation into English.

I live in Lafayette where all of the signs used to be bi-lingual. Sadly since the city has grown and some 60% are no longer Cajun most of the signs have been changed to just English. Even with that, the way we pronounce the names confuses non-locals and things like google maps. The street I live just off of is Verot, which is properly pronounced "Va-Row". However due to all the non-Cajuns that have moved here in the last few decades there are now three commonly heard ways it is pronounced. "Vea-Rot" is the most common for non-speakers, though natives are often quick to correct them.


Having run a Rhine game where i was the only one to speak German, i quickly realised that I needed to reel in the German bits because it just led to confusion on the player side. So while famous locations like the Piazza San Marco probably don't need a translation, most of them probably do need one. I would have at the beginning a lexicon with the Veneto and English names next to each other to facilitate things.


Even places that may be taken as being famous and known will inevitably have some readers who have never heard of them. A translation being available, at least, could greatly assist with their own research if desired.

Just one more voice to say “use the Venetian terms, but somewhere tell us what they all mean.”


I was going to write something clever, but since everyone appears to agree with me, count me as just one more vote for this.

... or if it's a digital document, would you be able to put a selector somewhere in the first pages? I know it can be done in HTML, and it should be doable in .pdf as well...

I would like to see the names in Venetian, but with English translation somewhere to give us who cannot Venetian understanding of the name. I would suggest having dictionary as appendix with English translations for the names.


Personally I’d favour using native terms for place names and other things unique to the locale (with a glossary and an explicit English translation alongside the first use) but for other nouns reverse that convention (so use English primarily with native translations in a glossary and other strategic locations).
The rationale is that foreign place names and particular terms add flavour and distinctiveness, while other terms that come up are liable to cause confusion in play unless players want to start learning the language; so Piazza San Marco and cornu, but bell tower instead of campanile, and Hosier’s Guild instead of Compagnie della Calza (if that’s the appropriate translation).
Gondola has effectively crossed into English but unless Magi are actually shipping goods or posing as traders, calling their primary location a warehouse seems odd unless there is another reason for doing so. This is a case where I’d be tempted to go with Fondaco of Hermes, or consider an alternative translation such as Hostel (or even the ‘false friend’ term Foundation). Maybe Scuola (or whatever translation you prefer, but probably not School)?
(You’re not locating the Fondaco dei Hermetico on the site of the Fondaco di Megio, are you? I was rather disappointed to learn that was merely a millet warehouse… :slight_smile: )


Actually, since many places have been recorded on Google Maps in the native language, the local terms work fine; try Mercato di Rialto for the Rialto Market, for example.

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You're probably right. I still prefer searching for Cairo than al-Qāhirah, as an example. I also use wikipedia and other sites for research and game preparation. And while I can research my way back to a language I understand - it's an extra step, occasionally. I'm not saying never to use italian names. I suspect many places keep the italian names in English anyway. But I suspect calling a church Church XYZ rather than Chiesa XYZ will be easier. Also, frankly, while we're talking churches as an example, I'm sure I'll figure out that San Marco is probably Saint Mark, whether I'll easily guess that for other famous figures is anyone's guess. Knowing that a place is named after someone famous does help intelligibility and can have game impacts in a game where saints can manifest. There are different ways to do that, including using the original italian name and then providing an explanation.

So in a few words, my vote is not to be an english nazi but in favor of using useful words that save me time rather than flavorful ones that cost me time and reduce immediate usability.

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Fair point; if the non-English term isn’t sufficiently recognisable or memorable, then there’s a very limited case for expecting readers to deal with it.

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I favor the local language for the names of towns, events etc, but with translation as well, I also slip in terms and and any office titles in the local language, but again with translation. Nordic stuff was easier on this for players, but Gaelic had issues, it’s okay I let the players mangle them, but it did help with the emersion factor. But the fallback is important. Not just having a reference document, but during play do the translation as if you are reading it out…

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I thought that was the argument to keep the local language. Generally, the local name tends to be recognised by texts in any language. Anglicised names would only be recognised in English texts and maps at best.

But yes, I think I agree with the majority: if in doubt, give both.


I would just point out that Venetian is not a dialect of Italian, except in Fascism-times propaganda (still in vogue!) meant to stamp out Venetian cultural identity.

Venetian is a different, older language (with its own dialects), closer to Latin. For example "apricot" is "albicocca" in Italian (from the spanish Arabic "al-barquq"); but it is "arme(l)ìn" in Venitian, from the Latin "armenìnum [pomum]" (i.e. armenian [fruit]). "Chair" is "carega" in Venetian (from the vulgar Latin "cathegra") but it is "sedia" in Italian. In Venetian and Latin tree names are female, but they are male in Italian. Etc. In fact, it's not just the individual words (and alphabet) that are different, grammatical structure is different too!

So ... I'd very much see names in English, rather than a mix of Italian and Venetian often grammatically incorrect and to me as painful as "Corporem". For example, "Fondaco dei Hermetico" is meaningless in either language (in Italian, it would be "Fondaco degli Ermetici", in Venetian, "Fondaco de li Ermetizi" - meaning roughly "Tradiing post of the Hermetics", not "Warehouse of magicians"). If you really want to use Venetian, try contacting the good folks at the Academia de la bona creansa (in English that would be "Academy of good manners", in Italian "Accademia delle buone maniere") at
info at
They are a NGO promoting the study and use of the Venetian language.

I know this sounds pedantic, but I think many an Irishman (for example) would feel the same when reading that Gaelic was a dialect of English and seeing all the names of his homeland mercilessly butchered!