Do you know any country names in Chinese? Country names don’t seem to be a trendy topic. However, they are super useful when it comes to self-introduction. After all, when introducing oneself, most people also tell others which “country” they are from. So, let’s start with those five common country names: USA, China, UK, France and Japan!
USA 美國/美国 (měi guó)
美 (beautiful) + 国 (country) = 美国 (USA) [literally] (beautiful country)
The character 美 (měi) is chosen because it sounds like the syllable “me” in “America.” And when people use the singular term America, they’re almost always referring to the USA. The traditional form is 美國.
China 中國/中国 (zhōng guó)
中 (middle) + 国 (country) = 中国 (China) [literally] (middle country)
Historically, 中国 referred to the states on the Central Plain in China. It was not the country’s name until the 19th century. The traditional form is 中國.
UK; England 英國/英国 (yīng guó)
英 (hero) + 国 (country) = 英国 (UK) [literally] (hero country)
Say 英 (yīng) as if you were saying “En” in “England.” Besides “UK,” 英国 is often used to mean England as well. The traditional form is 英國.
France 法國/法国 (fǎ guó)
法 (law) + 国 (country) = 法国 (France) [literally] (law country)
法 (fǎ) is pronounced like “fa” in “sofa.” Make sure you say it in a low tone to sound like a native speaker. The traditional form is 法國.
Japan 日本 (rì běn)
日 (sun) + 本 (origin) = 日本 (Japan) [literally] (sun origin)
Do you know that the Japanese national flag contains a symbol of the rising “sun”? The pronunciation of 日本 in Chinese and Japanese are similar. Often, when translating a country name into Chinese, we choose sounds similar to that country’s name for itself.
If you prefer to learn by listening, you can tune in to our Talk Chineasy lessons below to learn more!
Countries & Nationalities: https://www.chineasy.com/talk/lessons/054-names-countries/