English language translation tips: use of long forms of country names

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Republic of Serbia πŸ‡·πŸ‡Έ, Republic of Croatia πŸ‡­πŸ‡·, Kingdom of Norway πŸ‡³πŸ‡΄, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§, Oriental Republic of Uruguay πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Ύ, Plurinational State of Bolivia πŸ‡§πŸ‡΄ …

These are the long (official) forms of the names of these countries.

The names of most countries have a long form and a short form.

β–Ά “Republic of Serbia” is the long form for Serbia πŸ‡·πŸ‡Έ
β–Ά “Hellenic Republic” is the official name (long form) of Greece πŸ‡¬πŸ‡·
β–Ά Some country names have just the one form, such as Romania πŸ‡·πŸ‡΄, Bosnia and Herzegovina πŸ‡§πŸ‡¦, the Dominican Republic πŸ‡©πŸ‡΄ and the Central African Republic πŸ‡¨πŸ‡«
β–Ά Then there’s Czechia, better known by the long form of its name, Czech Republic πŸ‡¨πŸ‡Ώ

Southern Slavic languages tend to use these long (official) forms very often in all types of communication, formal and informal πŸ“. It can go a bit overboard at times though – last year when an official filled in the form for my Macedonian passport renewal, he automatically wrote my birth country as “Republic of Australia”(!)

By the way, Australia πŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ί is not a republic; it’s a constitutional monarchy with the King of Australia being soon-to-be coronated King Charles III β™›, and the country’s long name is “Commonwealth of Australia”, a name most Aussies don’t even know exists.

⚠️ It’s very important to know that in English the long forms of country names are not used anywhere near as often as in other languages. The European Commission’s English Style Guide puts it nicely:

“the long forms of country names (full names) should not be used in any but the most formal contexts (unless there is no accepted short form). Even in international treaties, they should be used sparingly, e.g. in the title.”

ℹ️ That means when translating text from Southern Slavic languages into English, in most cases where the long form has been used in the source, then it’s more appropriate to use the corresponding short form in the English translation.

πŸ’‘Example: if an address ends with “Beograd, Republika Srbija”, then in English it’s “Belgrade, Serbia”. Though technically correct and accurate, “Belgrade, Republic of Serbia” looks rather odd for its unnecessary and excessive formality.

πŸ‘‰ What’s the situation in your country? Is it common practice to use the long forms of country names?