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Origin of "China" name


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#1 asiaconqueror

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 10:18 AM

The name "China" means 'dishes, plates made from porcelain'. The english used to trade and import these from Qing dynasty in the 18th century. Probably, that's origin of the country's name. But I'm not sure whether my interpretation is correct.

How did the country came to be called "China" in the west? What was its origin?

#2 Chinaconqueror

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Posted 04 June 2004 - 01:04 AM

I don't know about the west, but the name "China" in chinese is called "Zhong Guo" and it only came about when Republic of China was founded in 1911. :P

I guess, the name of "China" originate from "Qin" dynasty, which was considered the first chinese empire. "Qin" could be "Chin"..and the English just name the country "China".

#3 Ghost_of_Han

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Posted 05 June 2004 - 07:44 AM

Well a 2 things,

The word "China" is "Zhong Guo"(in mandrin), its chinese charcters are, 中国, Zhong means middle, and Guo means country.

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Well, Cao Cao didn't really make himself emperor. In fact, he did not do so in order to avoid history criticism of him of upsurping the throne of the han emperor. But his son, Cao Pi, force the han emperor to abdicate the throne in order that he can become the emperor.


Well that is true, but during the Han and Three kingdoms period, is when they began proclaiming dead Emperors. So when Cao Cao died, his labeled his as one. He was not an Emperor when he was alive, but his grave was labeled as one, and he was considered one all over China. So I hate to be technical but he was very much an Emperor.

(sry if I used the quote system wrong I'm kinda new at this)

#4 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 05 June 2004 - 08:11 PM

I have checked dictionary.com and it gives the word history of "China":

Word History: Our term china for porcelain or ceramic ware is a shortening of chinaware and probably china dishes. Although the word china is identical in spelling to the name of the country, there are 16th- and 17th-century spellings like chiney, cheny, and cheney that reflect the borrowing into English of the Persian term for this porcelain, chn. The Persian word and the Sanskrit word cn, Chinese people, which gave us the English name for the country, go back to the Chinese word Qn, the name of the dynasty that ruled China from 221 to 206 B.C.


The country's english name 'China' originated from the chinese word "Qin" or "Chin", which was the 1st imperial dynasty (empire) that ruled China from 221 to 206 BC.

It has been said that without Qinshihuang (1st emperor of China and ruler of Qin dynasty), there would be no China today.

In chinese, "China" is "Zhong Guo" (中国), which means Middle Kingdom or "Central Country".
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"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#5 Sephodwyrm

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Posted 05 June 2004 - 10:43 PM

I asked my Turkish friends about how they say China in Turkish. The answer is Qin-na (or somewhere close to that). It does show that the first Imperial dynasty of Qin does have some influence on the western name of the Middle Kingdom. Interestingly, the Han Chinese representation of teh Roman Empire wasn't Roma but Da Qin, which is pretty odd.
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#6 Yihesan

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Posted 06 June 2004 - 01:56 PM

"China" in Old Turkic was Tabga (Tabghach), which was a form of Tuoba. Later Turks such as the Uyghurs called it Qıtay coming from the Khitans. In Modern Turkish shoken in Turkey, it's in (pronunced the same way with Qin); in Arabic it was Sn (Arabic doesn't have CH sound).

#7 Sephodwyrm

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Posted 07 June 2004 - 12:33 AM

But I thought that the Tuo Ba were a Xian Bei tribe that created the Northern Wei dynasty, and eventually they even sinicized their surname to Yuan.
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#8 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 07 June 2004 - 04:21 AM

The Tuoba Xianbei were the founders of Northern Wei Dynasty. Eventually, they sinifized. I think, the Tujue probably got their names from them.. "tabgach"..
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"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#9 Shadowfax

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Posted 07 June 2004 - 05:53 PM

Interesting, I thought China got the name in English because of its famous plate making, etc, too. Just realize how many countries got odd names in other language. Japan was once called the wo guo, which is "short nation" in Chinese. :D

#10 Yihesan

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Posted 10 June 2004 - 01:31 AM

But I thought that the Tuo Ba were a Xian Bei tribe that created the Northern Wei dynasty, and eventually they even sinicized their surname to Yuan.

Yes, the Tuoba were one of the Xianbei tribes. It was the two Tuoba Wei dynasties that ruled Northern China when the Tujue appeared, I guess this is why the Turks later called entire China Tabghach.

#11 Guest_Lord Anatolius_*

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Posted 16 June 2004 - 05:12 PM

I've got some questions for Chinese speakers. I recenently learned from going through Heavengames archives that, in addition to Zhong Guo (=Middle Kingdom),

England=Ying Guo (Heroic Kingdom)
Germany=De Guo (Virtuous Kingdom)
France=Fa Guo (Lawful Kingdom)
America=Mei Guo (Beautiful Kingdom)


and that the Netherlands is He Lan (flower country).
This interests me greatly. How do you assign names to countries - your impressions of them? :)

Anyway, can you please also say what Chinese is for:

Russia
India
Japan
Ukraine
Vietnam
Korea
Indonesia

and any others you care to mention.

#12 Shadowfax

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Posted 16 June 2004 - 07:25 PM

In many cases, they simply translate the country's English name into similar Chinese words. These names don't mean anything in Chinese, other than the countries. For example: England= Ying Guo. I think they just translate the "En" from England into Ying in Chinese. Isn't it similar?

And Ying can mean brave, young, or keen in Chinese. So if you look literally it can mean Heroic Country.

Russia = E Luo Si
India = Yin Du
Japan = Ri Ben
Ukraine = Wu Ke Lan
Vietnam = Yue Nan
Korea = Han Guo
Indonesia = Yin Ni

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 04:50 AM

Thanks for the info Shadowfax.

But there are some exceptions I think to just transcribing the foreign names of those countries into Chinese.

I understand why, say, India = Yin Du ( a bit like Hin Du), Germany = De Guo (a bit like Deutschland) and some others.

BUT, E Luo Si = Russia, does not sound anything like Russia, Rossiya or Rus. And Ri Ben = Japan, doesn't sound like Japan or Nippon. To give two examples.

So, how do the Chinese make up the names of the exceptions (eg Russia, Japan)? And do their names mean anything?

#14 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 07:23 AM

BUT, E Luo Si = Russia, does not sound anything like Russia, Rossiya or Rus. And Ri Ben = Japan, doesn't sound like Japan or Nippon. To give two examples.

So, how do the Chinese make up the names of the exceptions (eg Russia, Japan)? And do their names mean anything?


Actually, Russia in the past was called "Ru Sa Er" (in chinese) during Qing dynasty.
I guess, "E Luo Si" was somehow related to the actual russian pronunciation of their country name.

As for Japan, the chinese character for "Nippon" happens to be pronounced as "Ri Ben" in chinese, so Japan in chinese is called "Ri Ben", which means "originated from the sun".
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"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#15 yau

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 01:34 PM

the word "japan" is probably derived from southern chinese dialect.

The cantonese sound for ja-pan is "Yat-Bun" . While "Ja" can be prounouced as "Ya", the spelling for Japan can also be "Ya pon", which is very similar to hakkan or cantonese sounds. I guess it was the Portuguese who took "Japan" to europe, and the original sound should be "Yapon", but it then evolved into what we pronounced today in english.




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