Things to make you go ‘hmmm…’St Maarten, St Martin, SXM, Sint Marteen?
This category is going to be for those ‘uncategorizable’ (if there is such a word) items, tid-bits, funnies and otherwise odd posts that we cannot find a home for.
This first one is about the name St Maarten – St Martin. In a previous post we went into detail about the history of St Maarten – St Martin, how it came into being and which European countries fought with each other over centuries for dominion over this little island – you can read it here.
So, we’ve established the obvious – St Maarten is the Dutch spelling and St Martin is the French spelling but why, in the long form is it Sint Maarten instead of Saint Maarten? Obviously – the Dutch way of saying ‘Saint’.
The pronunciation of Saint Martin in French goes something like this: sah mah-tah (imagine the ‘h’ is a semi-silent version of the letter you’re saying – so you would ‘think’ ‘n’ in your mind whilst saying ‘sah’…..but wouldn’t quite say it or finish it off. A difficult thing to picture I know. Just imagine you have a mouthful of croissant and can’t touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth to pronounce the ‘n’.
The pronunciation of ‘Sint Maarten’ in Dutch goes something like this: sint mahhrr-tin.
I won’t even begin to tell you how to pronounce St Maarten in Dutch, let alone the other local languages we have such as Papiamentu, Creole, Patois or even Spanish.
It’s interesting to us to see how many different ways people spell the names beyond the obvious. We have the lovable ‘SXM’ abbreviation which is the international airport code for St Maarten, which is thrown in for good measure on occasion, giving us St Martin SXM, or SXM St Maarten or SXM St Marteen.
We have the confusing double letter ‘a’ quite often switched with the ‘e’ to produce St Marteen (believe it or not, that was how JFK airport spelt it for quite some years at the departure desk!)
Lastly we have the downright obvious wrong ways such as Saint Marteen, Sint Martin, St Marten, Martin St, Maarten St, St Martin Martin, St Maartins and even…..wait for it…. Saent Maerteen!
We’ve seen ‘em all.
But you know what? Unlike most places you would visit, no one would pull you up on it, because whatever works for you – is cool for us as long as you have a good time when you get here!
The St Maarten Island Guide Team