What is the Chinese or Japanese name for Ireland? (and other countries)

I’m currently reading ‘The Chinese Secret Service’ by Roger Faligot and Remi Kauffer when I came across this passage:

"The Japanese language had inherited the old Chinese ideograms…but pronounced them differently. For example ‘England’ in both countries is translated as ‘The Land of the Heroes’ but is pronounced Ying Guo in Chinese and Eikoku in Japanese’

It goes on to state that the word for France is Fa Guo (the Country of the Law).

Page 188 of the Headline Press edition.

I’ve never heard of that before and I was wondering how those descriptions/names originated and what the translation of the Chinese and/or Japanese name for Ireland is (being of the Irish ilk). What does their name for America translate as as well for that matter.


According to www.zhongwen.com, it’s “ai er lan” (a phonetic transliteration).

America is “mei guo” = “beautiful country”.

Are all of their names for foreign countries flattering?

There are some that are more-or-less meaningless phonetic transliterations. I don’t know if there are any that are particularly insulting, though.

(I am not a Chinese expert.)

The Japanese name for Ireland is also phonetic, Airurando.

The UK is more commonly known as Igirisu these days in Japanese (phonetic version of “English”).

Is that just spelled out in Katakana, or are there kanji to go with it (I’m thinking not, because of “rando”).

What are you telling me? That the English get a cool name and the Irish don’t? You’ll pay for this slight! shakes fist in the general direction of Asia :stuck_out_tongue:

You guessed right, it’s just katakana: アイルランド

England / UK (the two are interchangeable in Japanese) is also written in katakana: イギリス (igirisu).

However, the word for the English language (eigo) is written in Kanji: 英語. This retains the character 英 from the original word for England, 英国 (eikoku) referred to in the OP.

ETA: the character 英国 are the same ones used in Chinese (pronounced “ying guo”, as stated in the OP).

According to my dictionary, there is an alternative way of writing Ireland, 愛蘭 (still pronounced “airurando”), which literally means something like “love orchid”. But the characters aren’t chosen for their meaning, just their sound (individually they are pronounced “ai” and “ran”).

Hmmm, well then. What do they call Iran?

In Chinese, the first character in 英国 (Ying Guo) is actually shortened from the full transliteration: 英格兰 (Ying ge lan). It’s the same thing with America, where the 美 (Mei) comes from 美利坚合众国 (Mei li jian he zhong guo).

Most countries don’t have their names shortened like this, Ireland for example doesn’t. Off the top of my head only a few others like France, Germany, Russia, and other countries that had a lot of dealings with China are commonly shortened.

Think they did chose words with pleasing meanings, but the primary reason for using them was because of the phonetics, so the meanings aren’t necessarily relevant.

I have spend a little time in Taiwan and China and I know that for a lot of things they’ll take real words that phonetically sound sort of like the western word but have an appropriate meaning.

They do this for brand names too. The Mandarin characters for Coca Cola sound like Coca Cola when spoken but translate to, IIRC, Healthy and Delicious.

When Sprite was introduced to Taiwan they actually had a contest. The winner literally translates to Blue Water.

Iran is Iran (イラン), same as in English.

Probably too obvious for words, but note that the Chinese and Japanese have both adopted the English word for Ireland, with Irish Éire (> English Ire-) + English land.

In Japanese also, country names are sometimes abbreviated using the first character of their kanji name. This is commonly done with neighbouring countries like China and Korea, but the UK, US, France and Germany are commonly referred to as 英, 米, 仏, and 独 (hero, rice, Buddha and alone). 豪 (tremendous – Australia), 露 (dew – Russia), 伊 (phonetic “/i/” – Italy) are also commonly seen.

These characters are often combined together to talk about international relations. For instance, “米中露” US-China-Russia. In this context, Japan is abbreviated with 日 (sun/day), so that Japan-Russia relations translates as “日露関係”. This is politically. In a cultural context, Japan is 和 (harmony). Hence, an English-Japanese dictionary is “和英辞典”.

This leads us to the Ireland Working Holiday Support Center, which in Japanese goes by 愛和-ホリ. (Context is important; there are several companies called 愛和, without any relation to Ireland.)

Actually it can be written in Kanji, as 愛蘭土. But that’s very rarely used.

Mostly, but their names for continents are terrible.

非洲= feizhou= Africa = Bad Continent
欧洲= ouzhou = Europe =Vomit Continent
亚洲 = yazhou = Asia = Inferior Continent
美洲 = meizhou = The Americas = Beautiful Continent… maybe not the last one.

We call it corn; they call it …?..

Parkay, maybe?

hmmmm… when my friend visited a beijing university, she noticed some strange painted busts of western-looking people with the following labels:

nuidun - a young-looking man with long white hair
chuli-furen - a woman
dai-uin - an old balding man
men-li-yeba - a middle-aged man

This thread is fascinating.