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Old January 19th, 2016, 03:56 PM   #1
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Strange Names of Asian Countries


Can unique names of neighbouring countries give some insight into the historical relations between the said countries? Countries seem to have unique names for their neighbours due to special historical interaction. What can these special names reveal about their interactive history? Many of these names, I do not know the reason and history behind the unique names. Maybe some of you could give me some insight.


China
Proper Name: Zhong Guo
Known as Khyatad by Mongolians and as Kwaihotnya by the Burmese. There must be an unknown special historical relation between Mongolia, Burma and China for there to be a unique name unrelated to the proper name.


Japan
Proper Name: Nihon
Known as Yappon by the Mongolians and as Magbarnis by the Filipinos. The Mongolians have the 'J' and 'H' sounds in their language, so it probably wasn't a "let's choose this letter since it sounds the closest and we don't have such a sound in our language" situation.


Cambodia
Proper Name: Kampuchea
Known as Jian Fu Zhai by the Chinese. A better name for Cambodia probably would have been Can Pu Chao (幹普潮) since it actually sounds closer to the proper name.


Korea
Proper Name: Hanguk
Known as Solongos by the Mongolians. The meaning of Solongos is 'rainbow land' in the Mongolian language, and seems to be a very unusual name for a country that doesn't really rain much (usually only during summer) and rarely has any rainbows.


India
Proper Name: Indiya
Known as Bharat and Hindustan by some Indians. Rather than neighbouring countries having different names, the Indians themselves seem to have various names for their own country.


Thailand
Proper Name: Pratesti
Known as Thailand by most countries of the world and Tai Guo by the Chinese. The two don't sound anything like it's proper name.
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Old January 19th, 2016, 04:17 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Senyokbalgul View Post

...

Korea
Proper Name: Hanguk
Known as Solongos by the Mongolians. The meaning of Solongos is 'rainbow land' in the Mongolian language, and seems to be a very unusual name for a country that doesn't really rain much (usually only during summer) and rarely has any rainbows.

...
It was called Solgo~Solho (probably from Shilla) by the Jurchen, IIRC, and the Mongols adapted their name from that.

Last edited by Haakbus; January 19th, 2016 at 04:19 PM.
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Old January 19th, 2016, 05:34 PM   #3

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The Chinese also used to call Japan "Wo" (dwarf), because they considered the Japanese to be dwarfs. I think "Japan" comes from another Chinese name, Jih-pen Kuo (Ribenguo), which Marco Polo turned into "Cipangu."

One odd name for China was "Tabgach", which was a very outdated reference to the ruling tribe of the Toba-Wei dynasty. This name was used in the Muslim/Turkic west up until the Mongol empire.

Last edited by stevapalooza; January 19th, 2016 at 05:39 PM.
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Old January 19th, 2016, 11:44 PM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Senyokbalgul View Post
Thailand
Proper Name: Pratesti
Known as Thailand by most countries of the world and Tai Guo by the Chinese. The two don't sound anything like it's proper name.
It's pronounced "Pratet Thai", which literally means "Land/Country of the Thais", or in English, "Thailand". "Guo" means "country" in Chinese, so "Tai Guo" means "Thailand".
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Old January 19th, 2016, 11:48 PM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Senyokbalgul View Post
Japan
Proper Name: Nihon
Known as Yappon by the Mongolians and as Magbarnis by the Filipinos. The Mongolians have the 'J' and 'H' sounds in their language, so it probably wasn't a "let's choose this letter since it sounds the closest and we don't have such a sound in our language" situation.
The P sound in the name is easily explainable. Japan is also called "Nippon" in Japanese. The Japanese airline ANA is short for All Nippon Airways (Zen Nippon Kuuyu"), not Nihon.
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Old January 20th, 2016, 12:10 AM   #6
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China
Proper Name: Zhong Guo
Known as Trung Quoc by Vietnamese. Not only it sounds exactly like the proper name, it also means "Middle Kingdom" in Vietnamese.


Japan
Proper Name: Nihon
Known as Phu Tang (the name of the a tree in Japan) or Nhat Ban (dont know why) by Vietnamese.


Cambodia
Proper Name: Kampuchea
Known as Campuchia by Vietnamese which sounds exactly like the proper name.

Korea
Proper Name: Hanguk
Known as Han Quoc by Vietnamese which sounds like the proper name.

India
Proper Name: Indiya
Known as An Do by Vietnamese. Not sure why.

Thailand
Proper Name: Pratesti
Known as Siem in medieval era which sounds exactly like Siam. Now known as Thai Lan.
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Old January 20th, 2016, 01:14 AM   #7
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In the Compedium of Turkic Languages, Japan is called Jabarka.
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Old January 20th, 2016, 01:31 AM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by A Vietnamese View Post
India
Proper Name: Indiya
Known as An Do by Vietnamese. Not sure why.
Maybe because the Chinese characters are 印度 (yin du), and in Vietnamese they would have been pronounced An Do?
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Old January 20th, 2016, 01:36 AM   #9

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As for Korea, it uses the Chinese character names for regional countries where possible:

*China - 中國 - 중국 (Jung Guk)
*Japan - 日本 - 일본 (Il Bon)
*India - 印度 - 인도 (In Do)
*Thailand - 泰國 - 태국 (Tae Guk)

Cambodia is an exception: 캄보디아 (Kambodia)
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Old January 20th, 2016, 01:44 AM   #10

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Although it wasn't mentioned above, Vietnam is also an exception: 베트남 (Betunam) is generally used instead of the Chinese 越南 (월남 - Woel Nam, which actually does mean Vietnam in Korean, but is instead evidently more commonly used to mean defecting to South Korea from North Korea).
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