Talk:Names of Japan

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Page name[edit]

The name "etymology of Japan" doesn't really grab me. I thought the title "names of Japan" was better. "Etymology of Japan" makes it sound like the page is just about the word "Japan". --DannyWilde 02:25, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

After all, it is. -- Mkill 21:05, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
No, it's about the words "Nihon" and "Nippon" and other names of Japan too. --DannyWilde 00:01, 25 November 2005 (UTC)


Is that name Hinomoto or Hīnōmoto? i.e. are the hyphens there for aesthetic reasons or are they actually chōons? —Frungi 01:12, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

They are just ordinary hyphens. Gon-no-suke 04:03, 16 March 2006 (UTC)


There was a short article in (i think it was) 朝日新聞 about this distinction recently. They claimed that in old Japanese, the small tu (ッ) was not explicitly written out. Although 日本 was written as ニホン (nihon), educated readers knew to pronounce this as ニッポン (nippon). However, in due time many people assumed that ニホン was the correct reading, and it became prevalent. Gon-no-suke 04:03, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

I think people should all realize by now that the two variant Japanese readings of 日本, i.e. Nihon and Nippon, are not due to some medieval idiot's misinterpretation of an abbreviated kana annotation as にほん or ニホン. To be certain, it would have been fashionable for a time to annotate the characters 日本 in that way, but that does not mean that the pronunciation "Nihon" was derived from the orthographic kana representation, にほん. Rather, the two variant pronunciations are an example of what linguists call a doublet, i.e., two words that have derived from an identical etymological ancestor. Linguists already know that the Japanese language as it was spoken around the time that Chinese writing was introduced to the ancient Japanese, a stage of the language that is known as Old Japanese (or pre-Old Japanese, Archaic Japanese, etc.), lacked a distinction between the sounds /p/ and /f/. It is presumed that the syllables that later came to be represented by the kana series は, ひ, ふ, へ, ほ were pronounced as */pa/, */pi/, */pu/, */pe/, */po/, but there is no way to be absolutely certain about this, and so it is possible that there were already some dialects that pronounced these syllables as */fa/, */fi/, */fu/, */fe/, */fo/ or */hwa/, */hwi/, */hu/, */hwe/, */hwo/, as they are pronounced even today by the speakers of some exotic Japonic dialects, especially some of those that are spoken in the Ryukyu Islands. In any case, it came to pass that the central Japanese dialects shifted an original */p/ first to */f/ or */hw/, and eventually to simply /h/, as that series of kana is pronounced in Modern Standard Japanese. The word 日本, which was originally pronounced probably as */nitpon/ or */nippon/, came to be used in colloquial Japanese much earlier than most modern Japanese words of Chinese derivation, which generally were not coined or did not enter the colloquial speech of Japanese people until quite recently, particularly since the Meiji Period. Thus, the word */nippon/ was subject to the sound change that affected all Old Japanese instances of */p/, and it lenited to become Middle Japanese */niffoN/ or */nihhoN/. This Middle Japanese colloquial form */niffoN/ or */nihhoN/ continued to be used as the colloquial pronunciation of the characters 日本 as the name of "Japan," and this colloquial pronunciation developed regularly into Modern Standard Japanese /nihoN/, which today remains the most commonly used reading of 日本. The modern formal variant, /nippoN/, is derived either from an ancient dialectal variant that did not lenite Old Japanese */nitpon/ or */nippon/ to */niffoN/ or */nihhoN/, or else it is derived from a sort of stilted literary pronunciation that sought to preserve the independent pronounciations of each of the two Chinese characters, 日 and 本, that comprise the name 日本. This sort of literary "etymological reconstruction," or the artificial adoption/reinvention of a pronunciation that is assumed to be more historically accurate or closer to the "original" pronunciation of a word, has been a ubiquitous linguistic phenomenon throughout the history of most languages of the world, and Japanese is certainly no exception. Thus the two different forms, "Nihon" and "Nippon," have come to exist side by side within Modern Standard Japanese, and they are currently used with a sort of pragmatic/sociolinguistic distinction, but from a historical linguist's perspective, "Nihon" is almost certainly the more traditional colloquial form, at least in the central regions of Japan. Ebizur 08:39, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

Cipangu merge[edit]

Cipangu is really short and would be better merged into this article. --日本穣 Nihonjoe 21:20, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

I agree. Plus the article doesn't make much sense - how does "riben" becomg "Japan"? This article makes it clearer that the old Shanghainese pronounciation is much closer to "Japan." Jxyama 21:31, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
While it’s completely irrelevant for me to say it (seeing as to how it’s two years later), it’s easy to understand why you could come up with a false etymology for “Japan” from “riben” – in pinyin, “r” is a “ʐ” sound (not English “r” at all), “b” is not voiced (so it can sound like English “p” to the untrained ear), and the “en” is “ən”; the sound is kinda like “zh-pun”. But it’s still not the true origin of the name, which comes from whatever medieval dialect Marco Polo transcribed it from. -BRPXQZME (talk) 21:31, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
support this merge. The article should not be its own entry. Zakolantern 14:13, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

suppourt the mergeLyswim 20:48, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

Anyone knows why the Malays used the term Jepang/Jepun? I think that's pretty important since it's the origin of term "Japan" Pejuang bahasa 15:17, 24 June 2007 (UTC)


This article claims: "For example, Japanese people call their language Nihongo; Nippongo, while not incorrect, is never heard."

While it is certainly uncommon, the statement is incorrect. Nikkoku has an entry for nippongo. It even gives a quote: 西洋道中膝栗毛 (1874-1876)〈総生寛〉一三・下「日本語(ニッポンゴ)で言っておくんなせへ」

Per this reference, I will remove this claim. Bendono (talk) 07:27, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Pejorative meaning of 倭[edit]

The article says "Wa (倭) was a name early China used to refer to an ethnic group living in Japan around the time of the Three Kingdoms Period. Because the character originally used to transcribe the ethnonym Wa (i.e. 倭) acquired pejorative connotations, a different character, 和, which has more positive connotations, came to be used in Japan instead of 倭."

Could anyone elaborate on these "pejorative connotations" and how they arose? When I look up the character 倭 in my preferred dictionary (which is not a Japanese-Japanese one though) it seems to be just a synonym for 和. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:51, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

Wa (Japan) has details and references. Keahapana (talk) 18:28, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks! That was too straightforward for me to even consider it, lol! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:30, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

Cipangu is a prehispanic name for the Philippines mistakenly attributed to Japan[edit]

It has been proven that Cipangu was a name for the Philippines not Japan but is mistakenly reffered to Japan.

Click the website.

In all the maps alleging the location of Cipangu...

Map 1: Map 2:

As you can see. It was always in between the tropic of Cancer and the Equator (The Location of the Philippines) while Japan is clearly nearer to the Arctic circle. So please stop attributing to Japan the name "Cipangu" because that name was meant for the Philippines. This makes me angry because Japan always steals stuff meant for th Philippines.

But Thank Anyway ^^

Gintong Liwanag Ng Araw (talk) 02:49, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

Please learn to assume good faith as Wikipedia is only presenting information found elsewhere. This is not the place for nationalistic rants about someone stealing a name. Japan likely had nothing to do with it. ···日本穣? · Talk to Nihonjoe 03:00, 9 March 2009 (UTC)
Also, seeing as they are both island nations, it isn't really surprising that someone might mix them up back when people had much less understanding of east Asian geography. ···日本穣? · Talk to Nihonjoe 03:05, 9 March 2009 (UTC)
I heard from the Dictionary of Word Origins by Ayto that said the name came from the Mongolian term for Japan, which was "Jippon". ForestAngel (talk) 02:57, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

Both Nihon and Nippon are official[edit]

On June 30, DPJ lawmaker Tetsundo Iwakuni asked the government about the reading of 日本.

にっぽん・にほん、どちらでも 「日本」読み方閣議決定

Iwakuni: "Does the government intend to determine the official reading of 日本, either Nippon or Nihon?"

Government: "No. Both Nippon and Nihon are widely used and we don't have to select either one of the two. "

This is the official stance of the government. Should we mention this somewhere in this article? Shinkansen Fan (talk) 15:31, 10 August 2009 (UTC)


This pronunciation is menationed in three separate places in athe article, which seems excessive. AnonMoos (talk) 12:22, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

Error in article[edit]

It says in the article:

>In Japanese, countries whose "long form" does not contain a designation such as republic or kingdom are generally given a name appended by the character 国 ("country" or "nation"): for example, ドミニカ国 (Dominica), バハマ国 (Bahamas), and クウェート国 (Kuwait).

But Dominica and the Bahamas are both commonwealths, as is apparent from their long names. So either the rule is wrong, or the examples are wrong (either because they're exceptions to the rule or because the stated Japanese names are wrong). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:38, 1 October 2011 (UTC)

Example of how Japan calling other country can be seen at (A Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affair site introducing Bahama with country's name written on top of the page), that it also neglect their designation as a commonwealth. C933103 (talk) 10:45, 26 January 2014 (UTC)

Modern Shanghainese pronunciation of 日本[edit]

It is said to be Zeppen in the article, but a wu-dialect dictionary:([1]) said 日 can be pronounced as zeh4 or nyih4 which I think the former one would be a result of different romanization scheme for the pronunciation used in the article, but wouldn't the latter one be more appropriate here? Although I am not that familiar with Shanghainese.C933103 (talk) 10:45, 26 January 2014 (UTC)