What do Chinese people call China?

I understand that Japanese people call their country Nippon. I believe that Chinese people don’t actually call their country China. What do they call it? If the above statements are true, why do we insist on calling their countries something different? Where did the names come from? Are there other countries that we name differently than those who live there?

I think they usually call it “here”.


Nearly every country that speaks a different language that we do has a different name for their country in their own language. The former U.S.S.R. was the CCCP, for example, but don’t ask me what that stands for. Sometimes things get lost in the translation. I’ve heard the name for China before, but I can’t think of it right now.

The official transliterated name is:
Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo

I’m guessing that’s People’s Republic of China in Mandarin, which is the official language.

Yes, according to the CIA “Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo” is Mandarin for “People’s Republic of China”. The Mandarin for China is “Zhong Guo”.

China was so named by Western explorers, who got there and noticed that the Chin family seemed to be in charge of things.

Informally, the Chinese just say “Zhong Guo”. Which means literally, “middle kingdom.”

No, the Soviets never called the USSR the CCCP. They used the abbreviation SSSR, which stands for the Russian translation of United Soviet Socialist Republics. However, they usually spelled it in Cyrillic, the native alphabet of the Russian language. In that alphabet, our letter S resembles C and our letter R resembles P. So an approximation of the Cyrillic spelling of SSSR would look like ‘CCCP’ in our limited ASCII character set. An important distinction.

I just found this article which notes that there are two forms: “Zhongguo” and “Zhonghua”. According to the article

I understand why we would have to write and english word to pronunciate the name. IMO “Zhong Guo” is not that hard to write or pronounce. Nippon is very easy also. Why do we insist on calling it something radically different? I’m guessing that Germans do not call their country Germany. There are probably dozens of names that I learned in grade school that are not “correct”.

Are there any unusual names for the US that other countries use?

Regarding Germany, you can get everything from Deutschland to Alemania to Germany and you don’t even leave Europe doing that.

In English, we’ll recognize most countries which use Romance, Germanic, or Scandinavian languages. However, countries like Suomi (Finland) or Magyar (Hungary) will stump us English speakers.

How 'bout The Great Satan?

Which makes me a Great Satanian, I guess . . .

My parents call America Mei Guo (sp?). Could it possibly translate to “Beautiful Country”? Or am I getting the tones completely wrong? :slight_smile:

“Mei Guo” is just a phonetic approximation of “America.” In written Chinese, the radical for Mei(beautiful) is the same as the one used in “Mei Guo,” (IIRC, it’s been a long long time) but it doesn’t have the same meaning.

My travel guide to China says that Mei Guo is about right for how the Chinese (Mandarin speaking) refer to the U.S.

However, my travel guides are silent on the other two big Pacific Rim countries: Korea and Japan, refer to the U.S.

Well more accurately, Cyrillic is derived from the Uncial Greek Script (which is also probably where Coptic comes from). In the Uncial Greek script, the letter for the s sound is shaped like our letter C. Our C actually comes from the Etruscan way of writing G. G was devised by adding a vertical line to C.

I just had to comment because your wording implies Cyrillic is derived from the Latin Alphabet.

From the Qin (Chin) dynasty of the land.

BTW, my Chinese friend calls China “Zong Gua” (but then again I asked this in an IM and he isn’t perfect in Mandarin).

Where do I imply that Cyrillic is descended from, or in any way related to, the written language used in Rome? I was silent in from where Cyrillic was derived, or so I thought. I know Cyrillic derives from Greek. Heck, you figure that out the first time you see the two written languages side-by-side. Anyway, I would like to be enlightened as to where you saw the foul-up, so I don’t do it again.

Cecil did a column on why Germany, in particular, has so many names. I think the basic ideas contained therein can be applied to most instances of name-changing.

The article: Why are there so many names for Germany, AKA Deutschland, Allemagne, etc.?

Also, does anyone know where “Bharat” (Indians’ word for India) comes from or means?

How’s the intonation on that? Is it “Meh-ee-gwah”?