Common modern written words in Japanese and Chinese

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by Jeraru, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. Jeraru Junior Member

    España, español y catalán

    Japanese and Chinese languages share the same writing form for some modern words like the country names 英国 (England), 葡萄牙 (Portugal) or 西班牙 (Spain).

    Could anyone be so kind to tell me which country was the first to apply these three kanji compounds and when?

    If the three written forms above are of Chinese origin, does anyone know if Japanese people during Nanban trade period (南蛮貿易時代) used other kanji to write down the same country names as well as other pronounciation?

    And finally, aside of the long initial spread of Chinese words, does someone know if at some point of history there were -or there are- agreements between Korea, Japan, China or Taiwan about stablishing common written forms for certain words and concepts?
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2013
  2. Tonky Senior Member

    Hi. I'll try my best.
    Most of those are surely of Chinese origin, but there are some that were made by Japanese and not always shared by other Asian countries, such as 米国 (America, 美国 for Chinese), 象牙海岸 (Ivory coast, 科特迪瓦), 南阿 (South Africa, 南非), 伊太利 (Italy, 意大利), and so on. Nobody seems to know if they are different due to mistakes or simply local dialects of pronunciations (depending on when and from where it came), or editor's random selections, or even possibly all combined.
    Here is the site which probably best explains what you would like to know.
    *edit* cannot post links since I'm still new here =P
    You can search by 国名+漢字表記 and you can find many sites that shows both Chinese and Japanese versions.

    It is said that Japanese people used this ancient Kanji dictionary called 節用集 which first appeared in Muromachi, which is 14-15th century, untill around pre-WW2 period in order to refer to the country names, as well as to learn which kanji to use for many other things. As far as I've read, there are no certain "set" rules for the country names and some have quite a few different kanji versions. (e.g. Russia has 露西亜, 魯西亜, 俄国, 俄羅斯, 魯細亜, 魯, and Spain has 西班牙, 士班雅, 大呂宋, 是班牙...)

    I do not believe, though, that there has been any "agreement" for the common written forms among kanji-using countries, considering Japanese insist on using 米 for america and never 美. For official country names in Japanese we now use katakana instead since Meiji period, although newspapers always prefer using kanji to shorten their articles, and the above linked pagecertain source says there exists some semi-official one-kanji-per-country form for telegram use between MOFA and diplomatic missions overseas.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2013
  3. frequency

    frequency Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    According to Wikipedia, China did first. The Chinese language has been using kanji every time from a long time ago. In the Taisho era, much later than 南蛮貿易時代, Japanese has started using katakana for country names. When has China started? I don't know, but when found a new country, they had set up the name, probably. Does anyone know?
    (Have you solved the problem of the browser and your OS?)

    See the Netherlands (オランダ)in the table. We have three alternatives: 和蘭、阿蘭陀、和蘭陀. Do you mean that Japanese used in the 南蛮貿易時代 all these three, either, or another different name not included in the table? U~m we need research.

    As Tonky said, kanji country names are not perfectly agreed. I don't know why. I don't know if this reply is what you want to know. Would you tell us more, if you want to?
  4. Jeraru Junior Member

    España, español y catalán
    This is just the kind of information I was looking for. Thank you very much for all the juicy replies.

Share This Page