I often hear people referring to Loch Ness, as il lago di Loch Ness.

However Loch is the Scottish for Lago, so it appears to be redundant.

Consider the two sentences

Si racconta che un mostro viva nel lago di Loch Ness


Si racconta che un mostro viva in Loch Ness

The second one sounds awkward, and I wasn't even sure whether to put in, a, or nel.

Which one would be, grammatically-wise, more appropriate?

  • 1
    The second example is appears to be incorrect, if you want to use loch as "lago", then the correct Italian would be: "Si racconta che un mostro viva nel loch Ness" (loch becomes lower case and takes a determinative article because it's not a proper name anymore)
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 0:38
  • 2
    Related: the same thing sometimes happen with Monte Fuji, sometimes incorrectly labeled as Monte Fujiyama, were yama actually means monte.
    – o0'.
    Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 10:32

3 Answers 3


Grammatically, I agree that adding Loch would make the sentence redundant, but I think that it may easily happen that the name of a place in a foreign language loses its original meaning.

In this sense, I would argue that for the average Italian Loch Ness, if not even Lochness is the name of the place, without any reference to it being a lake, so that adding the word for "lake" is felt as to be necessary.

Of course this depends on how much the speaker knows about the particular toponym.

  • 4
    Conversely, English speakers sometimes do the same with Italian words. For instance, when saying minestrone soup. I guess the issue just lays in the fact that not many Italians know Loch means lake...
    – nico
    Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 21:42
  • Sure, this happens in every language with borrowings. Indeed, not many foreigners know the meanings of the words they write on the so-called "Italian restaurants" menus. Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 21:50
  • 4
    This is also common with abbreviations, the most famous one being AC Current
    – astabada
    Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 8:31
  • 3
    In english they say: let's meet at "Piazza Navona square", which create exactly the same issue. Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 13:24

It's not specific only to Italian, actually. Once the name of a place becomes widely known in its "inseparable" form, it's often used as a proper name, without reference to its actual meaning. Particularly, the situation is the same in English (The monster lives in Loch Ness, not The Monster lives in the Lake of Ness), German (Das Ungeheuer lebt in Loch Ness), and French (Le monstre vit dans le Loch Ness).
In Spanish, though, the name of the lake is separated and translated appropriately: Una criatura legendaria habita en el lago Ness.


I wasn't aware that Loch means a lake, so the second sentence seems to me as if the monster lived in the town of Loch Ness. I'd suggest to use the first one as more used.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.