Meaning of 日本語

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dEhiN
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Meaning of 日本語

Postby dEhiN » 2014-07-03, 0:54

Does 日本語 literally translate to “this sun language”? I used Google Translate to look up the individual Kanji - 日、本、語 - and based on what GT gave for each character, that's what I came up with. Is that correct?
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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby Yasna » 2014-07-03, 1:39

dEhiN wrote:Does 日本語 literally translate to “this sun language”? I used Google Translate to look up the individual Kanji - 日、本、語 - and based on what GT gave for each character, that's what I came up with. Is that correct?

日本 means "Japan". 語 means "language". So you can think of it as "Japanese language". If you want to break down a word character by character, use a character dictionary like this: http://lingweb.eva.mpg.de/kanji/
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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby dEhiN » 2014-07-03, 5:51

Ok, thanks. Unfortunately I don't know enough Deutsch to understand the site.
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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby Ciarán12 » 2014-07-03, 15:52

dEhiN wrote:Ok, thanks. Unfortunately I don't know enough Deutsch to understand the site.


You can use this one then - http://jisho.org/

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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby dEhiN » 2014-07-03, 16:39

Ciarán12 wrote:You can use this one then - http://jisho.org/

どうもありがとう!
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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby Ciarán12 » 2014-07-03, 17:15

dEhiN wrote:
Ciarán12 wrote:You can use this one then - http://jisho.org/

どうもありがとう!


問題ない。

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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby linguoboy » 2014-07-03, 20:05

dEhiN wrote:Does 日本語 literally translate to “this sun language”?

The root meaning of 本 is, well, "root". The "root of the sun" is in the East, which is where Japan was relative to the Middle Country.
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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby mōdgethanc » 2014-07-03, 20:23

Ever hear it called "Land of the Rising Sun", dEhiN?

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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby dEhiN » 2014-07-03, 20:31

mōdgethanc wrote:Ever hear it called "Land of the Rising Sun", dEhiN?

Yes I have; I guess that makes sense now.

linguoboy wrote:
dEhiN wrote:Does 日本語 literally translate to “this sun language”?

The root meaning of 本 is, well, "root". The "root of the sun" is in the East, which is where Japan was relative to the Middle Country.

What's the Middle Country?
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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby linguoboy » 2014-07-03, 20:37

dEhiN wrote:What's the Middle Country?

China.
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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby dEhiN » 2014-07-03, 20:52

linguoboy wrote:
dEhiN wrote:What's the Middle Country?

China.

So then etymologically, does the name 日本 come from China and their referring to Japan as "the root of the sun" country? I always thought the name of the country was just what the Japanese people called their own country. But that wouldn't make sense since, from the Japanese people's point of view, their own country is not relative to anywhere!
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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby Ciarán12 » 2014-07-03, 20:56

dEhiN wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
dEhiN wrote:What's the Middle Country?

China.

So then etymologically, does the name 日本 come from China and their referring to Japan as "the root of the sun" country? I always thought the name of the country was just what the Japanese people called their own country. But that wouldn't make sense since, from the Japanese people's point of view, their own country is not relative to anywhere!


Yeah, it was imported from China. The native Japanese name for Japan was Yamato (although at times that only referred to certain parts of Japan... read this if you really want to know all about it.)

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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby linguoboy » 2014-07-03, 21:39

Ciarán12 wrote:
dEhiN wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
dEhiN wrote:What's the Middle Country?

China.

So then etymologically, does the name 日本 come from China and their referring to Japan as "the root of the sun" country? I always thought the name of the country was just what the Japanese people called their own country. But that wouldn't make sense since, from the Japanese people's point of view, their own country is not relative to anywhere!

Yeah, it was imported from China.

I don't believe it was. The building blocks--the kanji, the notion of Japan being "east of centre"--were imported, but the name itself was composed by the Japanese themselves.

Two names applied to Japan which originated in China but are 東洋 "east ocean" and 海東 "sea east [i.e. "east of the sea"]". In more recent times, 東洋 has come to be used as a translation of "Orient" in the Eurocentric sense of "East Asia". 海東 was used not just for Japan but all lands east of China and is occasionally used by Koreans as a poetic name for their own country.
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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby Ciarán12 » 2014-07-03, 21:48

linguoboy wrote:I don't believe it was. The building blocks--the kanji, the notion of Japan being "east of centre"--were imported, but the name itself was composed by the Japanese themselves.

Two names applied to Japan which originated in China but are 東洋 "east ocean" and 海東 "sea east [i.e. "east of the sea"]". In more recent times, 東洋 has come to be used as a translation of "Orient" in the Eurocentric sense of "East Asia". 海東 was used not just for Japan but all lands east of China and is occasionally used by Koreans as a poetic name for their own country.


Perhaps you're right. I assumed it was as it a) is a kanji compound, b) is read with the Chinese rather than native Japanese readings and c) is used in contemporary Chinese as the name for Japan.

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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby linguoboy » 2014-07-03, 21:58

Ciarán12 wrote:Perhaps you're right. I assumed it was as it a) is a kanji compound, b) is read with the Chinese rather than native Japanese readings and c) is used in contemporary Chinese as the name for Japan.

Actually, many "Chinese names" for European countries, as well as a great deal of Sinitic vocabulary relating to Western society and technology generally, were invented in Japan and exported from there into Modern Chinese (and often Korean and Vietnamese as well). See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Japanese_vocabulary#Words_.27made_in_Japan.27.
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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby Pangu » 2014-07-03, 23:06

linguoboy wrote:Actually, many "Chinese names" for European countries, as well as a great deal of Sinitic vocabulary relating to Western society and technology generally, were invented in Japan and exported from there into Modern Chinese (and often Korean and Vietnamese as well). See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Japanese_vocabulary#Words_.27made_in_Japan.27.

Some Sinitic vocabulary imported from the West were definitely invented in Japan, such as 電話. However, that's not the case for names of European countries, which isn't mentioned in the link you provided either.

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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby OldBoring » 2014-07-10, 8:19

linguoboy wrote:In more recent times, 東洋 has come to be used as a translation of "Orient" in the Eurocentric sense of "East Asia".

No, AFAIK in modern Chinese 東洋 still refers to Japan, or at most to Japan & Korea.
Compare 南洋 = South-East Asia.

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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby dEhiN » 2014-07-10, 9:10

Youngfun wrote:
linguoboy wrote:In more recent times, 東洋 has come to be used as a translation of "Orient" in the Eurocentric sense of "East Asia".

No, AFAIK in modern Chinese 東洋 still refers to Japan, or at most to Japan & Korea.
Compare 南洋 = South-East Asia.

So does 洋 mean Asia? And 東 means east, while 南 is south-east?
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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby linguoboy » 2014-07-10, 14:38

dEhiN wrote:So does 洋 mean Asia?

Good question. I wonder if there's some way of finding out.

Youngfun wrote:
linguoboy wrote:In more recent times, 東洋 has come to be used as a translation of "Orient" in the Eurocentric sense of "East Asia".

No, AFAIK in modern Chinese 東洋 still refers to Japan, or at most to Japan & Korea.

Sorry, I should've specified that I wasn't talking specifically about the meaning in Standard Chinese. As this Language Log article explains, the meaning of "Orient" is current in Japanese and Korean.
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Re: Meaning of 日本語

Postby dEhiN » 2014-07-10, 23:37

linguoboy wrote:
dEhiN wrote:So does 洋 mean Asia?

Good question. I wonder if there's some way of finding out.

Huh, I don't really think to use Wiktionary. I think I'll have to make it a regular resource going forward. However, according to the article,
This entry needs a definition. Please add one, then remove {{defn}}.

So unfortunately the Wiktionary entry didn't help me :shock:. In fact the need for a definition seems to be the case for that char in all East Asian languages.
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