Countries In Chinese
Italy in Chinese is called 意大利yìdàlì. It sounds exactly like its English pronunciation.Speaking about Italy and China, the first person that comes into your mind must be Marco Polo!! He’s famous for his great adventure in the east, but what did he actually do in China. Let’s find out today. At the age of seventeen, Marco set off on a voyage to Asia with his father and his uncle. The distance they traveled was almost 15,000 miles (24,000 km)!! You can check out the route he took on the map. He later documented this voyage in his book “The Travels of Marco Polo 马可波罗游记mǎkěbōluóyóujì”. The book starts with a preface describing the travels of Marco’s father and uncle. In 1266, Marco’s father and his uncle reached Beijing. There they met Kublai Khan, a Mongol ruler and founder of the Yuan Dynasty. Mongolians were ruling China at the time. Kublai received the brothers with hospitality. Kublai requested the brothers bring back some souvenirs from Europe. In 1271, Marco, his father and uncle set off on their voyage to fulfill Kublai’s request. Three and a half years after leaving Venice, when Marco was about 21 years old, they finally reached the Kublai’s summer palace. Marco knew four languages, and the Polo family had a great deal of knowledge and experience that was useful to Kublai. It is possible that he became a government official. He wrote about many imperial visits to China’s southern and eastern provinces, the far south and Burma. After a 24-year voyage, he was able to go back to Venice eventually. In his book, he praised China highly, which made Europeans all look forward to visit China. But some other people argue that there are many inventions and exaggerations in his book. Anyway, the book was one of the most detailed materials provided for westerns to learn about the eastern world.
“德国déguó” is not from the word “Germany” but from “Deutschland”. We selected the first syllable “De” and found a character “德dé” which has the similar pronunciation; then we placed “国guó” behind it.Again, Chinese people chose the word with the best meaning for Deutsch. “德dé” means moral “道德dàodé” in Chinese. So you can regard “德国déguó” as a country of morals. Let’s meet a Geologist who is presumably the person that travelled to most places in China. Richthofen was born in Carlsruhe, Prussian Silesia, and was educated in Breslau and Berlin. He traveled or studied in the Alps of Tyrol and the Carpathians in Transylvania. In 1868, Richthofen received the support of the Bank of California and carefully designed seven routes of his geological survey and then came to China. In the November 1868, he started travelling around China. During 7 trips, he travelled 18 provinces in China, far more than any Chinese at that time. (Maybe you are the one who can break his record.) During the trips he inspected the coal mines in山西shānxī and陕西shǎnxī carefully. He wrote a letter that China is the country with most coal and the coal in 山西shānxī could supply coal to the whole world for thousands of years. When he was travelling in 洛阳luòyáng of 河南hénán province, he inspected the history of the silk market, and discovered an ancient business route from洛阳luòyáng to Central Asia. He gave it a name – “The silk Road (丝绸之路sīchóuzhīlù)”. After these trips, he came back to Germany and spent the rest of his life arranging his notes from the trips which later became a great book. Its name is “China: Ergebnisse eigener Reisen und darauf gegründeter Studien”. That’s the story of Richthofen and his country.
The pronunciation of “法fǎ” comes from the syllable “Fra” in the word “France” or “Française”. But do you know the meaning of this character? It means “law” in English. So why do Chinese people regard “France” as a country of law? This may have something to do with the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. The fundamental document of the French Revolution “Déclaration des Droits del’Homme et du Citoyen” became the basis for a nation of free individuals protected equally by law. It had a major impact on the development of liberty and democracy in Europe and worldwide, including the modern China. Nowadays, the time of revolutions seems to have gone away and Chinese people don’t regard France as a country of law any more. Instead the younger generation regards as 法国fǎguó which is a country of arts, fashion and romance!!
People in Thailand call themselves “Thai”, which means freedom. However, as we mentioned before, Chinese people like words with two syllables. So we put “国guó” behind “Thai” and made the name “泰国tàiguó”. The character “泰tài” also has a good meaning in Chinese, it represents safety and quietness. We always regard Thai people as friendly and kind. That’s why Thailand has become one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists.There is a minority in the southwest part of China called “傣族dǎizú”. They speak the same language as Thai people, which you can regard as a dialect of Thai language. And they also share the same culture with Thai people. For example, their new year is in April and during the new year they pour water on others, which is meant as a symbol of washing away all of their sins and bad luck. In English, it is called the Songkran festival. In Chinese, we call it “泼水节pōshuǐjié”, which means “pouring water festival”.And the third picture shows the traditional Thai dance called “孔雀舞kǒngquèwǔ (Peacock Dance)”. The peacock is a common bird in South Asia and is regarded as the symbol of Buddhism, which is the main religion of “泰国tàiguó” people and “傣族dǎizú” people.
Unlike other countries, the Chinese name of Korea is made by Koreans themselves. Korea and Japan are two of the countries that also use Chinese characters. They call themselves “Hankuk”, and the characters for this is “韓國”, the simplified form of which is “韩国”.Not only is the Chinese name of the country made by Koreans themselves, but also the name of their capital, “首尔 shǒuěr”. Before 2004, the capital “韩国 hánguó” is called “汉城 hànchéng”, which is from the formal name of this city “Hanseong”. From 1948, the name of the city has been changed into “Seoul”. But Chinese people are still using the former name “汉城 hànchéng”. This led to a series of problems. For example, there is a university called “Hanseong University”, while there is another university called “Seoul University”. Chinese people were often confused by these two universities because in Chinese they have the same name. Therefore, in 2004, the mayor of Seoul, Lee Myung-bak, who later became the president of Korea, asked the Chinese Majors in Korean universities to think of a new Chinese name to replace the name”汉城 hànchéng”. After several months of voting, “首尔 shǒuěr” was chosen and became the new Chinese name of the capital. In the last picture below we can see the symbol of the animal of Seoul. It is called “Haechi”, and it has a Chinese name, too. It is “獬豸xièzhì”. In Chinese culture, “獬豸 xièzhì” is a legendary animal that stands for justice.
When you are talking about Chinese 功夫gōngfu, the first image that pops up in your head might be Buddhist Monks. In most Chinese novels and movies, theKung Fu in 少林寺shǎo línsì (Shaolin Temple) is always the best in China. It influenced other types of Kung Fu so much in throughout the history of China that it can be regarded as the soul of the whole Kung Fu world in China.But did you know that Shaolin Temples and Shaolin Kung Fu was created by a 老外lǎowài? His name is Bodhi dharma and he came from India (印度yìndù). (Where’s all our Indian friends at? Make some noise!) His Chinese name is 达摩dá mó, which is translated from his Indian name. Bodhi dharma was born as a prince of a kingdom in India. When he was very young, he was sent into a temple and became a Buddhist Monk. One day, he asked his teacher where he should go and do missionary work after he finished his studies. His teacher said: China. So after a few years, he came to China by ship and landed in 广州guǎnzhōu. Now the harbor where he landed has become a Shopping Centre. The picture shows a gate, which Chinese people built later to remember his arrival. On the gate we can see four characters “西来初地xīláichūdì (west come first place)”, which means the first place Bodhi dharma arrived in China. Then Bodhi dharma came to 南京nánjīng to visit the emperor. Why南京nánjīng? Because at that time南京nánjīng is the capital of South China. The emperor was a Buddhist, too. But unfortunately his understanding of Buddhism is quite different from Bodhi dharma. So Bodhi dharma decided to travel to North China and finally arrived at the Shaolin temple. Shaolin temple was built 30 years before he came. At Shaolin temple Bodhi dharma did nothing but face a wall and meditate for 9 years. Then he found the answers to all of his questions. After which he started to teach Buddhism as well as Kung Fu in the Shaolin temple. This is the story of Bodhi dharma. Until now Chinese people still love this 老外lǎowài very much. The last picture is a wood carving work of him.