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Originally posted by pjtran at 2007-4-6 23:29
zhongguo or china...
not only that & now we have to stick with the term china but not zhongguo/jhongguo & we are not chinese but zhongguo ren. i would like us to use zhongguo & zhongguo ren but not the briton's slangs (china, chinese).
This sort of thing can be a controversial issue. Some people believe that, say, the English words for China and Chinese, being different from the Chinese names for their own country and the people, is some sort of "insult" by the English speaking people and is somehow exclusively an "arrogant" English attitude.
Of course this is not the case at all.
The French use the names "Royaume Uni" for United Kingdom and "Londres" for London. Various European languages have names for other parts of Europe which differ from how the natives refer to their towns and cities.
So too with China. I have seen Tibet referred to as "Xinyang" (?), however the Tibetans call it "Po", and I wonder how many non-Chinese places or countries are pronounced properly by Mandarin speakers, considering the limitations imposed by the available syllables? We even see parts of China given names in Putonghua which may differ from the names used by the regional dialect. Japanese use "Osutoraria" for Australia, because they too need the consonant/vowell syllable pairings and there is little or no distinction between "L" and "R" sounds. I am not offended by that and in fact I have learned to say it so that I can pronounce it in a way a Japanese person can understand where I am from.
Often these names may have some ancient or long forgotten historical reason.
Former name for China, especially northern China. The word is derived from Khitay, the name of a seminomadic people who dominated northern China in the 10th – 12th century. By the time of Genghis Khan, the Mongols had begun referring to northern China as Kitai (still the Russian word for China). The name may have been introduced to Europe by returning Franciscan friars c. 1254, but it was Marco Polo's Travels 50 years later that put Cathay's image before the European public.
The Romans used the name of a local tribe to refer to "Caledonia", now known as Scotland.
So this practice is not simply English "ignorance" as some may maintain.
China is no better and no worse than any other country in this regard, and while personally I believe we should all do our best to pronounce the names of places and countries as closely as possible to how the natives of those countries say it, it is sometimes very difficult or impossible due to the nature of our various languages and the typical sounds available and familiar to us.