Hope or no Hope?

It is somewhat surprising, if not confusing, that Cape Despair in the Gulf of St Lawrence in Quebec be called Cape of Hope in French. Is it due to different experiences with a twist of irony, or to a mistranslation perhaps?

Breton explorer Jacques Cartier named the cape Cap d’Espoir (Cape of Hope), but the apparent similarity between the French “d’espoir” and English “despair” led to some confusion, with the result that the same spot is now called the opposite in English to what Cartier meant.

Cape Despair in French would be Cap Désespoir.

Cap d'Espoir lighthouse

Photo: Stéphane Gauthier

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