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Meanings of country names in Chinese 德国:美德之国

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Susan, a friend of mine, comes from Germany. One day, she asked me,excitedly: ‘I heard that Germany in Chinese means a Land of Virtue. Is that true?’

(有一天,德国朋友苏珊兴奋地问我:听说 Germany 在中文的意思是美德的国度,对吗?)

‘True.’ I said, ‘DEGUO, Country of Virtue.’ (– 对。德国,美德之国。)

‘I love Chinese! Tell me more. What is France in Chinese?’ (我爱中文!再多讲讲。France 怎么说?)

– ‘FAGUO, Legal Country.’ (法国。法制之邦。)

‘Hm, it makes sense. How about America?’ (嗯,有道理。那么 America 呢?)

– ‘MEIGUO, Beautiful Country.’ (美国。美丽之国。)

‘Really? and Britain?’ (真的?那 Britain 呢?)

– ‘YINGJILI, Lucky flowers.’ (英吉利。幸运的花儿。)

‘Funny! and the Netherlands?’ (有趣!Netherlands?)

– ‘HELAN, Lotus and Orchid.’ (荷兰。荷花和兰花。)

Finland?’

– ‘FENLAN, Fragrant Orchid.’ (芬兰。芬芳的兰花。)

Denmark?’

– ‘DANMAI, Red Wheat.’ (丹麦。红色的麦子。)

Czech?’

– ‘JIEKE, Defeating the Enemies and Winning the War!’ (捷克。打败敌人,赢得战争!)

‘OMG! Austria?’

– ‘AODILI, the Earthly Right Place.’ (奥地利,占据地利的国家。)

‘Why is it earthly?’ (为什么是地利?)

– ‘Because of Belgium. BILISHI, the Heavenly Right Time!’ (因为有个 Belgium,比利时,占据天时的国家!)

‘OK. Portugal?’

– ‘PUTAOYA, the Teeth of Grapes.’ (葡萄牙。葡萄的牙齿。)

‘What? … Spain?’ (啥?那 Spain?)

– ‘XIBANYA, the Separated West Teeth!’ (西班牙。在西边分开的牙齿!)

‘Got it! How about Asian Countries? Vietnam?’ (我懂了!亚洲国家呢?Vietnam?)

– ‘YUENAN, the South of Yue People.’ (越南。百越部族的南边。)

Thailand?’

– ‘Taiguo, Peaceful Country.’ (泰国。国泰民安。)

Korea?’

– ‘CHAOXIAN, Bright Morning.’ (朝鲜。明亮的早晨。)

‘How about Japan?’

– ‘RIBEN, the Root of the Sun.’ (日本。我心里想到的第一个释义是个脏字,但我忍住没说。我是个国际主义战士,不是民族主义者,不能让日本的好人背坏人的黑锅。于是我按文雅的方法解释说:日本,阳根。)

‘The names of Far East Countries make more sense in Chinese. Then China?’ (远东这些国家的名字在中文里更有意义。那么 China 呢?)

– ‘ZHONGGUO. We are not Far East. We are the Center of the World.’ (中国。我们才不是远东呢。我们是中央之国。)