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Nihon/Nippon vs Japan 2013/10/19 11:02
Minasan konnichiwa / Hello everyone

This is something that I always wondered and hopefully, someone will be able to give me some answer on that.

Why do we name the country of the rising sun (Nihon, Nippon) "Japan" in English or "Japon" in French???

It's pretty easy to say Nippon for most people. I'm wondering why there was a need to change it's name to Japan which doesn't exactly sound similar. In fact, it's totally different!

Thanks in advance to the knowledgeable person who can explain that.

by Isendir  

Re: Nihon/Nippon vs Japan 2013/10/19 12:14
Wikipedia has an article that explains it in detail:
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: Nihon/Nippon vs Japan 2013/10/19 13:17
doumo arigatou gozaimasu!

I kind of of hate myself now for not looking up to wikipedia first. Thanks for the help!


I do find it interesting. It is a known fact that the name is Nihon/Nippon but we choose to ignore it and still prefer to use Japan. Maybe because "Japan" is too well known now?

Not many western people would know what country Nihon is refering to. (Nippon is more known)
by Isendir rate this post as useful

Re: Nihon/Nippon vs Japan 2013/10/19 13:47
I'm sorry to say this but the word "Nihon" or "Nippon" is in Japanese language, just written in Romaji (Romanized Japanese writing). "Japan" is English. THe history behind the name(s) is best described in Wiki.

"Espana" (with the tilda on the "n") is a Spanish word, and "Spain" is English.

"Deutschland" is a German word, and "Germany" is English.

Would you say "Why do we ignore Deutschland and use Germany instead?"
by ... (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Nihon/Nippon vs Japan 2013/10/20 00:36
Pronunciations may differ by languages, even regarding a same spelling.
The names for Japan seem to have been written with the same two characters (meaning sun's origin) for centuries in Japanese and Chinese.
However, pronunciations for these same two characters are considered to have been different by languages: the first consonant in one of ancient Chinese readings seems to have been closer to a consonant for the first "j" in current English words.
That can be a major reason for the difference in pronunciations between its Japanese names ("Nippon" and "Nihon") and its western names (such as English "Japan" and French "Japon").

It's pretty easy to say Nippon for most people.

Is that so?
When Japanese and European people just say "Nippon" they do not hear a slight difference, but actually the last "n" is not pronounced in the same way.

How about "Nippon-ichi" (meaning No. 1 in Japan)?
Pronunciations may differ also by dialects, but when we say this word in common Japanese, the last consonant in "Nippon" and the first vowel in "ichi" are pronounced almost separately.
However, that can be difficult for many native speakers of English (and maybe those of other European languages), tending to pronounce this word like "Nipponichi" or "Nippongichi" or so.

(For your information: I have heard that there are at least six Japanese consonants which can be written with the alphabet "n." When I say Japanese words "Nippon" "bungaku" and an English word "nickel" I pronounce the four "n" in different ways.)

What pronunciation is easy may depend on languages and speakers.
A word which is difficult to pronounce may become pronounced in easier ways.
So, I presume there are many other similar examples of apparently big difference in pronunciations for words of the same origin.

Thank you for this interesting topic.

by omotenashi rate this post as useful

Correction: English grammar 2013/10/20 00:56
The topic is of a linguistic issue, so let me correct my simple grammatical errors in English.

NOT: tending to; BUT: who tend to
NOT: of the same origin; BUT: of a same origin

by omotenashi rate this post as useful

Re: Nihon/Nippon vs Japan 2013/10/20 12:46
Nippon, sounds strong, brave, formal. the goverment want to use this pronunciation.

Nihon, sounds soft, gentle, sometime weak. women use this pronunciation, often.
by ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Nihon/Nippon vs Japan 2013/10/20 13:50
Nippon's pronunciation in China was Jippon some 800 years ago. Marco Polo, or whoever that was, wrote on his book as Zipangu, and that changed as Japan/Japon eventually in Europe. So itfs all same basically.
by jomonstrider (guest) rate this post as useful

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