Talk:Wa (Japan)

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Mandarin pronunciation of 倭[edit]

Regarding this edit, the ROC Kuoyü Dictionary [1] states three pronunciations, and Lin Yuntang [2] states two.

No Need for the Korean name table[edit]

Korean word translation is needed to understand ancient Japan. If Koreans or Korean peninsula didn't exist in modern world. Japanese or Japan would not have existed. Koreans and Korean culture have played crucial role in Japanese civilization. During 1910-1945 it was Japanese military force annexation. Please remember Koreans did not invite the Japanese. During 36 years Japanese were foreign guest. They weren't " Local" Koreans. Koreans surely made them know ( Japanese military occupiers) that they were uninvited guest in Korea for 36 years. So using that historical angle comparison is wrong. Whereas Korean cultural influence in ancient Japan happened because that was destiny of Japan to have Korean genes, Korean civilization. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Korea4one (talkcontribs) 13:33, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Wa is an old name of Japan that appeared in a classical Chinese document. Korean pronunciation of the word has no place in this article on English Wikipedia like we don't have Japanese or French or Spanish pronunciations of the names of ancient kingdoms such as Goguryeo (Kokuri, こうくり) and Baekje (Kudara, くだら) as well as the Korean Peninsula (Chosen-hanto, ちょうせんはんとう) (which was a territory of Japan from 1910 to 1945) either. If the readers are interested to know the modern Korean pronunciation of 倭 as transcribed in English they should refer to the Korean Wikipedia. Hermeneus (talk) 01:33, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

This is nonsense. From Shanhai there's Kuroshio current and easy to get to japan. And korean did not pop out from sky or something. Lots of chinese blood. Seok was 1000 li north east of Wa(japan). Real irony is Hogong(japanese) is probably ancestor of park/kim. Go wiki silla and hogong. (talk) 12:47, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

Merge with Wokou?[edit]

Yaohua2000 02:32, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

Wa (倭) is the name of nation. Wako (倭冦) is the name of pirates. Two totally different concepts. Hermeneus (talk) 04:11, 14 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree with Hermeneus, the two subjects are totally different, both in content and chronologically, even if they have the "Wa" character in common. At best, a mention of "Wako" could be made in the "Wa" article. PHG 10:45, 14 December 2005 (UTC)


I know the pronunciation bits on this page have been added and deleted in the past. The reason I've added it is as follows:

1. The word is a Chinese one. It is Chinese in origin and mainly Chinese in use.

2. The pronunciation of the word as it appeared, that is, in ancient documents, would have been "Wo".

3. However, the current article title is "Wa", probably because it was started by a Japanese author.

4. I think it would be logical to either:

(a) specify that "Wa" is the Japanese pronunciation of an essentially Chinese word, or

(b) move the article to "Wo"

5. I chose the first course of action because that would cause the least disruption. --Sumple (Talk) 04:37, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

"Wa" is the English name for Japan of the period. You could mention that the English name originaly came from Chinese language; however, as far as "Wa" is the standard English term for the name of Japan of the period and Wikipedia is an English-language encyclopaedia and not a Chinese-English dictionary, there is no point in stating whatever the word is pronounced in modern Chinese language. -- 05:57, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
how do you determine it's an english word? it's not in english dictionaries (websters or am heritage) nor in english encyclopedias (the only entries for wa are for other meanings). of course, scholars discussing japanese texts would romanize this reference to japan as wa, scholars discussing korean texts romanize it as wae, & scholars discussing chinese texts use wo. but i don't see it as a english word. Appleby 06:40, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
"Wa" is the ancient name for Japan, and is a term from the history of Japan. Why would anyone chose to transcribe it in English as pronounced in the modern Korean language? -- 06:51, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
exactly, "wa" is not a modern english word. it's an ancient term used in china, korea, & japan, with respective pronunciations. western scholars of korean history routinely romanize it as wae, since it's not an english or native japanese word. Appleby 06:56, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
No English-language books on Japanese history transcribe the ancient name of Japan as pronounced in modern Korean language. It's also doubtful if "western scholars of korean history" really romanize it as "wae" (unless they transcribe Edo, Heian, Yamato and the rest of old names of Japan as well as of China and other Asian nations as pronounced in modern Korean language. -- 07:05, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
english language books on korean history transcribe it as wae because it's not a japanese word. edo, heian, and yamato are japanese words, so the romanization from japanese is proper (even korean scholars writing in korean write them in japanese pronunciation). but wo/wae/wa is not a japanese word. nor an english word (like "china" "korea" "japan"), as you first claimed. so all three commonly used transcriptions should at least be mentioned in the article. i'd vote for a move to wo, to be consistent with Wokou.Appleby 07:09, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
What "English language books on korean history" transcribe it as "wae" anyway? If it's not a Japanese word, it's a Chinese word. There is the least point in transcribing it as pronounced in modern Korean language. -- 07:16, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
quick google search shows these three western sources on the first page:
  • The Cambridge History of Japan: Volume 3, Medieval Japan - Google Book Search 1990 - History - 734 pages: ... Koryo sent an envoy to Japan requesting that the pirates be suppressed? ... 2/1260 records that Sung merchants and “island wae” (meaning Japanese from ...
  • "The Kaya confederation developed trade largely by sea with the Chinese capital at Lo-yang and with Wae, Japan" [3]
  • "in spite of an attack by Wae forces from Kyushu against Silla" [4] Appleby 07:29, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
"Wae" as used in those texts simply shows one way to transcribe 倭 in English, not as a transciption of the modern Korean pronounciation of 倭. -- 07:47, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
i don't understand your distinction. in what language is 倭 pronounced in such a way as to be transcribed in english as "wae"? Appleby 07:49, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Why would the authors of the "Cambridge History of Japan," who include a Japanese scholar, choose to transcribe 倭 as pronounced in modern Korean language rather than Japanese or Chinese? If they used "Wae" for 倭, then that's just a way to transcribe 倭 that they chose. It's got nothing to do with the modern Korean language. -- 07:54, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
i don't know why, but neither do you. maybe it's because they're discussing hanja 倭 in the korean context. you can ask them or read the book, but what's not speculative is that "wae" is the korean pronunciation, as in the other citations. Appleby 08:01, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
None of the rest of your cited articles say that "Wae" is from the Korean pronounciation of 倭. More likely it's just an alternative way to transcribe 倭 in English. -- 08:08, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
so you're saying "wae" is a common alternative romanization from the japanese pronunciation? what romanization system used by scholars produces such a spelling? you think it's just a fantastic coincidence that a google search for "wae" & "japan" turns up these three western sources that just happen to be in korean contexts (koryo, kaya, silla) and just happen to be identical to the korean pronunciation, but is really a previously unknown japanese romanization? Appleby 08:27, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────It is quite interesting topic which Sumple suggested. 倭 was also used by Japanese themselves, and the Old Chinese pronouciation may be as similar to "Wa", so my opinion is to keep the title as is. However, I am not sure about Old Chinese pronouciation because I just assume it from Fǎnqiè. It is welcome to show more precise information. --Corruptresearcher 08:56, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

I don't agree that "Wa" is an English word. At best, it's a transliteration of 倭 from Japanese.
It's true that the word was used by the Japanese themselves, and by the Koreans, but it was originally a Chinese word and wasn't used as much in Japan because of its pejorative character. As I understand it, it gradually morphed into the similarly pronounced 和 (correct me if I'm wrong). In any case, it is a Chinese word which was borrowed by the Japanese and Korean languages, which is why I think the Chinese pronunciation should be stressed.
Someone also argued that the word describes Japanese history, and was used by the Japanese themselves, and so should be listed under Japanese pronunciation. There is some merit to this argument, which is why I don't think the article needs to be moved. However, I still think it should be stressed that the word was originally a Chinese one, even though today it exists just as much in Japanese or Korean.
The old and middle Chinese pronunciations are interesting. Could you tell me which book you are using for Fǎnqiè? I was thinking that it may not be that reliable because ancient vowels were often different.
According to my dictionary of classical Chinese, the character 倭 has three pronunciations, each with a different meaning: as "wei1" it means "looking distant"; as "wo1" it means Japan or Japanese people; as "wo3" it means a form of hairstyle. --Sumple (Talk) 11:40, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Regarding the ancient pronounciations, maybe I was wrong. I found that the pronouciation of 倭 is in 「漢書地理」 written as 倭音一戈反 and in 「広韻」 written as 烏禾切. Actually I do not have books to translate Fǎnqiè but I found some information on the net and which tells that 一:iet, 戈:kuar so 一戈:uar. In the other page tells 烏禾:ua so I assumed as written on the page. However, both are written in Japanese and I am not sure they are credible. So I do not challenge you on this issue. Regarding the origin of the word, there are several theories: one says that the China decided the name of Japan as 倭 and Japanese translated it, and another says Japan introduced themselves as "Wa" and it was translated to Chinese charactor. I do not know which theory is in the mainstream but in my opinion, both sounds possible. Frankly speaking, I prefer "Wa" but I think it is also Japanese POV. So I cannot decide which is better... --Corruptresearcher 12:25, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Maybe I misunderstood what Sumple wanted to do. I thought you suggested to move the article but the movement is your second opinion, as I understand. So I do not have to decide which is better, do I? Regarding the ancient pronouciation, the pages I read is not so credible to cite, as mentioned above. What to do? --Corruptresearcher 12:40, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Hmm originally I thought movement was better. But on thinking about it more, because the word was adopted by the Japanese, PLUS it describes Japan, it may be better off staying at "Wa", but adding the Chinese pronunciation.
On the two fanqie you posted, i think we need the pronunciation tables for ancient chinese. I'll see if I can dig one up when i go to the library, but not promises =D. --Sumple (Talk) 22:33, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Credible information is helpful for everyone, even if it denies my assumption. Thank you in advance. --Corruptresearcher 04:06, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
I have not read all the above, but it seems to me that "Wokou" is called that because (obviously, from the specification of nationality) it is about a Chinese perspective. This, however, is an article on Japan(ese history) and so should use the Japanese spelling, at least if that is the way the original author intended. The logic Appleby is applying could be used to justify moving, say, Nihonjinron to give it a Hanyu Pinyin title just because it is a Japanese word of Chinese origin. I looked the kanji (not hanzi) up in two exclusively Japanese dictionaries, both of whichnot only included it, but said "wa" rather than "wo", before posting. elvenscout742 22:16, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Why do you say this is an article about Japanese history? This is an ancient Chinese name for Japan, first and foremost. it's not the same as nihonjin, because that is a japanese-made expression written in kanji, whereas wo(wa) was a chinese term translated into japanese.--Sumple (Talk) 11:09, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
It's still about Japan. elvenscout742 19:57, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
And based on their contributions, I would say the original author was not Japanese at all. Most of their edits were to China (frequently Hong Kong) related topics. I'd say the author is Hong Kongian. elvenscout742 20:17, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
And how does that disqualify them from writing about a term of Chinese origin?
Alright I'll try one final analogy: is Angleterre a French term or English term? Even though it is a name for England, and I'm sure many English people would use it in certain contexts (e.g. when talking to a Frenchman), this does not make it an English term. It is a French term for England. It is not an English term. --Sumple (Talk) 11:47, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Except that analogy is not at all well taken. 倭 was in fact a Japanese term, used by Japanese, albeit with Japanese pronunciation and understanding. There are simply no similar parallels, since characters are so distinct from phonetic alphabets. — LlywelynII 14:55, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

"wa" meaning docile[edit]

from jawiki: "倭は遙か遠いところを表すとする説、倭は柔順な性格という語義もあり、当時の倭人が中国人から見て柔順に見えたのだとする説". the fact that it's not mentioned in modern Chinese dictionaries doesn't necessarily mean it's not a real theory. Mackan 03:53, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

Yet "jawiki" is not an academic source. As a compromise, I will put a cite tag on this statement. If no citations can be provided within a reasonable length of time, I will then remove it. --Sumple (Talk) 04:21, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
I totally agree, a cite tag is appropriate until a better source than jawiki is found. But saying that you will remove it withing a reasonable lenght of time is something I don't agree with. If you're going to start remove things just because they're not sourced, anybody could remove a lot of useful information from an article. Surely, the cite tag is enough. I have no intention of looking for a source at right this moment (busy in real life), and it would seem appropriate to give other editors a chance to fill it in, without any randomly imposed time limit. Mackan 05:45, 29 July 2006 (UTC)
Understood. Nevertheless, contentious matters added without reference should be removed if no sources are provided within a reasonable time frame, because otherwise a false statement (not saying yours is one) would stay in an article for a long long time. --Sumple (Talk) 06:00, 29 July 2006 (UTC)
I agree, but most of the stuff on this page lacks any source at all, as do most Wikipedia articles. At least I cite something, even if it's just another Wiki. And having a false fact with a {{Fact}} tag after it is to me the same as saying "this could just as well be false as true", so I think it's ok.Mackan 17:24, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

Is Wa(倭)offensive to Japanese?[edit]

Wa(倭) is a Chinese term that is viewed by most Japanese people as an offensive racist term for Japan. Is it?--Yeahsoo 20:39, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

this question is a little different.most Japanese don't feel it offenese. but There is countries that uses it contemptuously. I doesn't write concretely but It isn't good manners.It is the one such as Jap or Nip.--Forestfarmer 21:50, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
I guess the country is China, since (倭) is only used in China and Japan. I think (倭) is not contemptuous originally, but it become an offensive after Wokou in Ming, and Japan invasion in WWII.--Yeahsoo 22:51, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
I rewrited "a country" to "countries".why Korean pronunciation is written ? are'nt you.Janpan is disliked not only china but also korea.--Forestfarmer 00:00, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Chinese were offensive people and 倭 ([ugly] dwarf) was offensive character that was chosen for phonetic Wo. According to Chinese document, Wo claim to be descendent of taibo Wu. Thus it is likely that if Wo remember how to write, they would have used 呉. Of course Japan did not realize how nasty chinese were until later and 倭 usage became common until they realized and change to 和. Chinese did best they can to select nasty words as possible for others such as barbarian, dog, evil, etc. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Real7777 (talkcontribs) 17:06, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

倭 and 和[edit]

This article should try and explain (which it does not even reference now) how 倭 became 和. 08:18, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

Korean pronunciation of 倭[edit]

Middle Korean dictionaries of Chinese characters that use hangeul in order to indicate the Sino-Korean reading of the Chinese character followed by a Native Korean gloss of the character's meaning (also in hangeul), such as 訓蒙字會 Hunmong Jahoe, indicate that the contemporary Sino-Korean pronunciation of 倭 was 와 Wa, and that the Native Korean gloss for this word was 예 Yey. Considering the phonological history of the Chinese language and the borrowed Chinese elements in Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese, the Middle Korean reading of 와 Wa for 倭 was most likely the original one, as it corresponds regularly with the Mandarin Chinese reading, , and the Sino-Japanese reading, Wa. The epenthetic palatal element (/j/ "y") on the end of the Modern Korean reading of 倭 (왜 Way > ) is not of Sinitic origin, as it does not correspond to any of the readings in Chinese or Japanese. However, a similar epenthetic palatal glide can be found in the Sino-Korean reading of various other Chinese characters, such as 腦 (뇌 noy > , nwe) "brain." The Sino-Korean reading of 腦 "brain" was indicated as 노 no in the Middle Korean character dictionaries, and as was the case with 倭, this Middle Korean form is the one that corresponds regularly with the Mandarin Chinese and Sino-Japanese readings, in contrast to the deviant Modern Korean reading. One potential source of the epenthetic palatal element in the modern Sino-Korean readings is the Native Korean nominative case marker, 이 -i, which was suffixed to vowel-final stems as well as consonant-final stems in Middle Korean, although it has been restricted to use after consonant-final stems in standard Modern Korean. The reason why I find the hypothesis that the palatal element at the end of words like 倭 왜 and 腦 뇌 derives from a fusion of the original Sino-Korean form with a suffixed nominative case marker to be especially likely is the fact that the Sino-Korean morphemes that have acquired this epenthetic palatal element are ones that have frequently been used as stand-alone words, i.e. they are all free morphemes that could potentially be directly suffixed with the nominative case marker, 이 -i (or even the genitive case marker, 의 -ɨj), and eventually absorb the high, front quality of the vowel of the case marker into the final vowel of the nominal stem.

So, to make a long story short, I think it should be noted that the oldest verifiable Sino-Korean pronunciation of 倭 is Wa, not Wae. It is also interesting that the "Native Korean" gloss for this character was provided as 예 Yey, which is identical to the Sino-Korean reading of 濊 (Mandarin Huì, Sino-Japanese Wai) in Modern Korean. Ebizur 12:27, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Section on Etymology and Lexicographical Studies of the Chinese character, "倭"[edit]

This section by Keahapana was verbose, only tangentially relevant to the history of the nation of "Wa," and poorly supported. For one thing, it makes the fatal error of treating the Chinese word 倭 as if it were synonymous with the Chinese word 矮 ǎi. I have hidden it until a consensus has been reached. Ebizur 10:27, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Hi Ebizur
Thanks for your recent edits, several of which were very helpful, like adding the IPA tags and fixing my Kuril mistake. I misquoted Carr (1992:9): "… "Island of Dwarfs" somewhere south of Japan (Okinawa? Ryukyu? [Maeda 1954] or Ainu in the Kuriles? [Schlegel 1893])." However, I'm amazed that you arbitrarily concealed sections 1.1-1.4 with specifics about characters, pronunciations, etymologies, and dictionary definitions. I understand that 倭 is a racist insult with a checkered past, which may offend some people (particularly Japanese). Of course, you're justified to believe that dictionaries shouldn't mention Wo's "dwarf" connotation, but many do gloss it. Can your personal opinions justify censoring dictionary definitions?
If I correctly understand your criticisms, you think my editing contributions are:
  • 1 "verbose" Yes, admittedly, and please feel free to clean up my wordiness, as long as you don't delete germane information. Thanks in advance.
  • 2 "only tangentially relevant to the history of the nation of Wa" How can the this nation's name and the reasons for changing its transcription be irrelevant? Following this logic, should we go throughout WP and likewise remove the "Myanmar" sections of Burma, etc.?
  • 3 "poorly supported" I cited Carr (1992) because it's an academic publication, one of the few in English, about Wa "Japan". I can only assume that you haven't read the article you're criticizing. If that's the case, I humbly suggest that you read it. Unlike you, I can't begin to assess whether "no decent philologist familiar with the history of the Chinese language would write such patently incorrect nonsense as Carr has written here." (Perhaps I'm misunderstanding a subtle attempt at irony, if you're contrasting 19th-century "philology" with 20th-century "linguistics".) But I've read this article and know the International Journal of Lexicography is a reputable refereed journal, published by Oxford University Press. While this citation clearly exceeds WP:CITE standards, why doesn't it meet yours?
  • 4 "fatal error of treating the Chinese word 倭 as if it were synonymous with the Chinese word 矮 ǎi" I see where you deleted statements that they share the same "phonetic element" and are "cognate", where does it say "synonymous"? Following the Karlgren (1923:368) quote that you deleted, it says: 矮 ai: "Co-signific in: J. uai; dwarf, stunted, short, low in height – [委 bent down, crooked, not straight and tall; interpr. of 矢 uncertain]." In your expert opinion, was he a "decent philologist"?
Conceivably, you are right that Wō/Wa 倭 "Japan" doesn't denote "dwarf", while Karlgren was wrong, Carr was wrong, and two dozen dictionaries are wrong. Just show us your evidence. In the meantime, I've restored the linguistic and lexicography sections.
Please let me know if you're unable to obtain Carr's article, I subscribe to IJL and could send you a PDF. Best wishes. Keahapana 19:38, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
If you really want your text to remain in Wikipedia, you ought to create a separate article on "History of names of the Japanese" or something to that effect. We already have a Names of Japan article, if you would like to move your section to that page. Such a long-winded discourse does not belong at the beginning of an article about the ancient nation/tribal confederacy/state of Wō/Wa.
I'm sorry to see that this ridiculous misunderstanding of the Wō/Wa ethnonym is being perpetuated by people like Carr.
The Chinese character 倭 is found in some of the earliest Chinese historical references to what is believed to be ancient Japan, where it is used as an ethnonym identifying a certain race of people who dwelt on the islands and who made contact with the Chinese royal court through the medium of the Chinese commanderies on the Korean Peninsula. In these early references, the term 倭種 wō zhǒng, i.e. "Wō seed" or "race descended from paternal ancestors who were ," is used in contrast to other races that were contemporaneously present on the islands, some of whom were said to be "just like Chinese people" of that era and others who were said to be 毛人 máo rén, i.e. "hairy people." The Chinese records seem to indicate that most of the numerous tribes of the 倭種 "Wō race" were led for a time by a queen of the tribe of 邪馬臺, or */zjamadhɔj/, but also that there was at least one (probably also Wō) tribe that did not submit to Zyamadhoy's authority, and that the Wō tribes in general were in constant conflict with the tribes of "hairy people" who were said to be located to the east of the Wō tribes.
With that background, it should be clear that the Wō race was one of at least three perceptably different races that were resident in the islands of (what is presumed to be) Japan about 2000 years before present. For one thing, we cannot ascertain the extent of the dominion of the Wō race within the Japanese islands: it is entirely possible that the Wō tribes merely dominated a certain restricted geographical area somewhere within what would eventually become Japan, and that most of the Japanese Archipelago was actually occupied by the tribes who were "just like Chinese people," or by the tribes of "hairy people," or even some other unspecified race. All we know is that some of the Wō tribes were among the first residents of the Japanese Archipelago to conduct diplomatic exchanges with the Chinese court.
Then there is a gap of several centuries' length in the Chinese historical record on (what is believed to be) Japan, and reports of the islands do not find their way back into Chinese history until very close to the time when Japan has developed a centralized state and civilization that would propel the islands into the full light of history. Regardless of the question of whether there might have been an incursion of yet another race from the continent sometime during the period of Chinese silence on Japan, there were already at least two other races, in addition to the Wō, who had been resident in Japan for centuries prior to its emergence into civilization. When the first unambiguous references to Japan as "Japan," i.e. 日本, make their appearance in the Chinese annals, the earlier racial distinctions had ceased to be mentioned, and any title that included reference to "倭 Wō" and was applied as an epithet to a historical Emperor of Japan (日本天皇) could just as likely have been referring to him as the "Conqueror of the land that originally (or at least previously) belonged to the Wō race" or something of that sort, similar to the historical English monarchs' styling themselves as "King of Ireland and France," or the modern English people's calling themselves "British," which is in fact the Roman exonym for the Brythonic Celtic-speaking pre-English inhabitants of the island of Great Britain (who called themselves something like "Cymru," by the way). Thus, there is absolutely no proof of any connection between the ancient Wō race and the historical and modern Japanese people.
Despite the fact that the connection between 倭 Wō and the modern Japanese is very tenuous, some individuals have insisted on disseminating and perpetuating a certain false etymology of the 倭 Wō ethnonym in what is probably an attempt to rationalize some aspect of their negative feelings or prejudice toward the modern Japanese people. There are at least three reasons why the layman's association of 倭 Wō with some concept like "dwarf" is entirely unfounded:
1) The Chinese character "倭" does not represent a word that means "dwarf." The character 倭 Wō was derived from the older character 委 through the addition of the "person" radical, イ. Many ancient Chinese texts, including the very oldest, that make reference to a tribe that is believed to be the 倭 Wō or at least related to them or their ancestors, actually use the character 委 and not 倭, which had not been invented yet. The character 倭 was obviously invented to disambiguate the sense of 委 used as an ethnonym from the regular literal sense of the character 委, which transcribes the Chinese word /wěi/ (to appoint, to send, to commission; an appointed officer, a commissioned officer), but which has also been used for its phonetic value to transcribe the syllable */wi/ of foreign words. The Chinese character for "short, of short stature" is rather 矮 /ǎi/, which shares the same "arrow" radical (矢)as 短 /duǎn/ (short, i.e. not long, of short length).
2) The Chinese exonym 倭 Wō (or /wa/ in Late Middle Korean, as well as in all forms of Japanese) does not represent a word that is phonologically compatible with the Chinese word for "short, of short stature," namely 矮 /ǎi/. The Sinitic word for "short," which is transcribed with the character 矮, is pronounced as /ǎi/ in Mandarin, /ŋai2/ in Cantonese (young speakers tend to drop word-initial /ŋ/ in all cases, resulting in /ai2/), */waj/ > /wä/ or /wε/ in Modern Korean, and /wai/ or /ai/ in Japanese. The only language in which the pronunciations of the words represented by 倭 (the Wō people) and 矮 (short of stature) coincide is Modern Standard Korean, and even this is a recent artefact of anti-Japanese sentiment among the Korean people: historically, and until quite recent times, the character 倭 (the Wō people) was annotated and read as 와 /wa/, which, as in the Chinese and Japanese languages, is a different pronunciation from that of the character 矮 (short), which has always been read as 왜 (/waj/ > /wä/, /wε/) in Korean. If one wants to claim an association between 倭 /wō/ and 矮 /ǎi/, one might as well claim the same connection between 矮 /ǎi/ and 魏 /wèi/, the name of the Wei Dynasty of North China, as this 魏 character also shares the same 委 element.
3) There is not a single reference in any ancient text to associate the 倭 Wō people with dwarves, or people of short stature. In fact, ancient Chinese histories do occasionally mention tribes of people who were unusually dwarfish (only four Chinese feet 四尺 in height) or who had other exotic qualities, such as the 裸囯 naked tribe, the 黑齒人 black-toothed people, or the aforementioned 毛人 hairy people, but none of these groups except the 毛人 hairy people were found in close association with the 倭 Wō people. If the Chinese had given the 倭 Wō people a name that was supposed to mean "dwarf," then the Chinese should have mentioned that the 倭 Wō people were of unusually short stature. In reality, no historical text has ever claimed that the 倭 Wō people were dwarfish, and they could not have had any reason to do so, because archaeology has shown that the population of Japan has never been significantly shorter than the populations of China. The human skeletons discovered in association with archaeological sites of the Yayoi culture in Japan actually display the tallest average height of any East Asian population ever studied, taller even than the modern populations of Korea or Japan, which is remarkable considering that the secular height of humans has increased by a great amount over the course of history in most other regions of the world.
I apologize for making such a long-winded post myself, but I feel that anyone propagating this unfounded and yet uncritically accepted folk theory about 倭 needs to be instructed in the realities of East Asian linguistics, history, and anthropology. Ebizur 21:32, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
Wow! That's an impressive screed from beginning (self-appointed Wa (Japan) owner, "If you really want your text to remain in Wikipedia …") to end (self-righteous hector, "… needs to be instructed in the realities of East Asian linguistics, history, and anthropology"). Although you avoided the primary question of whether you'd read the article you're criticizing, your subtext answers in the negative since Carr includes about half of what you mentioned. In that case, we needn't waste any more time discussing it. I've moved on to revising the History section and look forward to your corrections. Some of your other arguments are interesting, and when you find verifiable references, please add them into the Wa entry itself in order to improve quality. For instance, I'm intrigued by your claim that "Many ancient Chinese texts, including the very oldest … actually use the character 委 and not 倭." I can find early usages of 委 as a loan-character for 逶, 萎, etc., but not for 倭 "Japan". I'm sorry that we've gotten off on the wrong foot, and hope we can collaborate on this entry. Thanks again for your helpful edits, including Wikilinking Japanese lacquerware and katana. Oh, that reminds me. Without a doubt Wōdāo literally means "Japanese sword", but DeFrancis's ABC Dictionary gives "Japanese dagger; short sword", Far-East Chinese-English Dictionary gives "a Japanese dagger; a short sword", and my Chinese native-speaker friends confirm that this "Japanese" sword means a "short" one. What Chinese dictionary are you using? Best wishes. Keahapana 21:22, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
For one, the golden seal that was discovered under a beach rock at Shikanoshima in northern Kyūshū in the year 1784 was actually inscribed with the characters 漢委奴國王.[5] This is the golden seal that was supposedly sent by the Han Dynasty along with some gifts recognizing the conference of the official title of "king" (國王) upon the leader of a certain tribe in Japan, as such an event is mentioned in the Records of the Later Han (後漢書). The interpretation of the seal's text as 漢奴國王 (or, in Japan, kan-no wa-no na-no kokuou, "king of the Na [state] of the Wa [tribe], [vassal to] Han") is merely conventional.
The word 倭刀 appears in Chinese literature as a reference to the curved saber that was re-introduced into China in early Ming times as a result of the Wokou pirate raids on the Chinese coast. It originally referred specifically to swords of the Japanese (i.e., manufactured by or belonging to the Japanese), but it very soon became a generic name for any weapon made in the style of a Japanese curved saber (katana), including those of Chinese manufacture. In modern times, specifically around the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the word 倭刀 was deprecated and replaced with the neologism 苗刀 ("Miao sword" or "sprout sword") in order to disguise the fact that this particular style of sword was historically brought to Ming-era China from Japan. Ebizur 23:46, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

The 倭 phonetic series and 魏[edit]

Some seal and modern characters with this wei 委 phonetic are corruptions of other graphs. Karlgren's GSR has three series: 357 wei 委 with 萎, 痿, etc.; 354 tuo 妥 with 緌, 諉, etc.; and 569 gui 鬼 with 嵬, 魏, etc. Keahapana 23:49, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Philological remarks[edit]

I must confess I have learned a great deal from the article, while I am not completely satisfied with the philological argument presented there.

An important point is that textual evidences do not support that the characters 倭 per se represent any morpheme in ancient times. In the ancient texts, all we find are lianmian ci 聯緜詞 (倭遲、倭墮、倭傀), which suggests that 倭 was a purely phonetic character in ancient times, and 倭 only came to represent a morpheme after it had been associated with the Japanese. Yes, Shuowen says 倭 itself means "docile", but then there are no textual evidences to support that. Duan Yucai 段玉裁 was certainly aware of this, and tried to help Xu Shen out by saying that "倭與委義略同" in his Commentary. But that does not help, at least it seems to me, since there are no ancient texts to confirm that usage.

I think currently the article does not present the above point clearly. To say

as in the lead of the article is misleading, because we do not know whether the Chinese really meant to derogate. We do not know what word the Chinese had in mind when they used the purely phonetic character 倭 to name the Japanese. Perhaps they really had "docile" or "dwarfish" in mind, but then we do not and cannot know. I think the article should emphasize our uncertainty. Forgive my verbosity. Regards.--K.C. Tang 04:12, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions. Yes, oops, my "word" was a mistake for "character". Now that I've finished the history sections, I'm going to clean up the article overall and will correct that and emphasize the semantic uncertainty. Since Xu presumably knew of Han references to 倭 "Japan" but didn't note it, his definition and Shijing quote could both refer to wei "follow; go along" a wei-X "long and winding" compound word, and have nothing to do with Japan or later shitagau readings. You're correct that 倭's original Chinese connotations are unknowable in the absence of evidence. While many Hanzi transcriptions of foreign peoples might have been tongue-in-cheek insults, the only verifiable cases are official changes like 倭 > 和 or 獞 > 僮 > 壮 for Zhuang. The Old and New Tang histories clearly say the Japanese 惡 "hated, loathed" the character 倭 (note the Japanese WP article layout), but both waffle with other explanations and don't admit whether the hateful connotation was "submissive," "bowing," "dwarf," or something else. I'm amazed with the linguistic history of Wa and hope we can revise this article to include the facts without causing offense. Thanks again for all your corrections. Best wishes. Keahapana 22:39, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
PS I forgot to ask your opinions on some previous reverts. Should "The Word Wa" section go back before the "Historical References"? Should I say and ǎi" are "cognate"? Should 倭刀 "Japanese sword" be defined as "short sword"? Thanks again. Keahapana 23:17, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
I guess these technical details could be discussed later, and what's more urgent is the general direction of the article. What should this article be about? Does it concern only the name of Wa? (thus making it an extension of Names of Japan) Or will it also cover the history and culture of the ancient state(s) known as Wa to us? If the latter, how much do we known about them? and have they already been covered in the History of Japan? Cheers.--K.C. Tang 01:47, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
OK, later is fine with me. I think this Wa entry is developing well and should be the main article including both historical and linguistic aspects, then it can be linked by Names of Japan (which needs work), History of Japan, etc. One thing that still needs inclusion is Korean historical references 倭・倭人関連の朝鮮文献. Do you know any editors who could help with that? Cheers. Keahapana 20:19, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I agree with you. Unfortunately I can't think of who can help, and I myself is ignorant of the ancient history of East Asia. As to the philological details, no, I don't think we can say and ǎi" are cognates, simply because we don't know what , as represented by 倭, means; and 倭刀, judged by the photos at ja:苗刀, doesn't seem to be short at all, or does it? I'm completely ignorant of weapons, so I'm afraid I can't pass any judgment on it. Cheers.--K.C. Tang 08:43, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

Oracle bone script[edit]

Hello to all, I am the creator of Wo seal clerical.PNG, which compares the 倭 character with its Kaishu, Clerical script and Seal script formats. Is anyone aware of any Oracle bone script fonts available, so that I may add that to the image? Thanks, -- 李博杰  | Talk contribs email guestbook complaints 11:56, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Never mind, I've done it already. Wo(japan) oraclebone.png -- 李博杰  | Talk contribs email guestbook complaints 12:13, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Kejin 毛人 and Keno 毛野?[edit]

I have tentatively deleted this unreferenced note from the Tang Shu section.

  • In regard to the passage 東界北界有大山為限山外即毛人之國 ("the eastern borderlands and the northern borderlands possess great mountains as their limit; beyond the mountains, it is the country of Ke (= Hair) people"), note that there was an ancient province called Keno ("Hair Field," "Hair Land") in what is now the North Kantō region.

Unless there are some reliable sources, this seems dubious. Kejin ("hairy people") is mentioned twice in Tsunoda and Goodrich, this Xin Tang Shu context (tr. Tsunoda 1951:40); and the Song Shu context about King Bu, "In the east, they conquered fifty-five countries of hairy men" (tr. Tsunoda 1951:23) that many commentators identify as Emishi or Ainu people. Keno ("hairy field") is mentioned once as an identification of Kunu 狗奴 in the Wei Shu, "To the south [of the Queen's country] is the country of Kunu, where a King rules" (tr. Tsunoda 1951:10), noting (1951:18) Yamada identifies Kunu as Keno, but Shiratori as Kumaso. Kunu is also mentioned in the Hou Han Shu (already cited, tr. Tsunoda 1951:3), noting (1951:6) interpretations of Kuma-no-kori in southern Higo, Kumaso, or a tribe name. Keahapana (talk) 01:02, 7 September 2012 (UTC)

Where is the offense?[edit]

Right now, the article includes an entire section laboriously tallying dictionaries and striving to judge the Chinese for ignoring the offensive, pejorative meaning of ... their own word. This strikes me as massively POVy, given the discussion above. Further, even if the word only implied stooped shoulders and bowing, "nation of people who bow" is neither pejorative nor an inept description of Japan.

We needed a) to remove this section, or b) source people in the real world complaining about this and frame the "offense" in terms of the offense they have actually taken, not that we as editors are ascribing to them, or c) thoroughly source the word's ancient or modern usage in a solely pejorative fashion.

I wouldn't put it past the Chinese for it to be a pejorative (the Dutch were "Red-headed barbarians" for a century or two), but there's simply nothing in the current article that makes this section in any way appropriate. — LlywelynII 15:18, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

I disagree - I came to this article after reading Yamato people and getting very confused (I have since added to the Yamato people article and wiki linked here). The information in this article is high quality, and answers perfectly the question I was looking to answer. The question of connotations of Chinese country names is very common - see for example Transcription_into_Chinese_characters#Connotations.
Having said all that, whilst the information should be retained I can see some structural improvements which could be helpful. In particular it is worth considering moving the whole etymology section up to the top, and then combining the first and third subsections in the etymology section which overlap somewhat. Then to Llywelyn's point, it would be good to add a new sentence at the beginning to provide the context around the etymological debate. Oncenawhile (talk) 20:07, 16 December 2012 (UTC)

Case for 吳 being proper spelling for first name of Japan[edit]

"The first Wu Kingdom was united by Taibo during the Spring and Autumn Period. Ambassadoral visits to Japan by the later Northern Chinese dynasties Wei and Jin Dynasty (265-420) recorded that the Wō people of Japan claimed to be descendants of the Grand Count (Tàibó) of the Kingdom of Wu."[1] Yayoi culture clearly were NOT direct dependance from Jomon and it have Chinese influence. I would say it is only logical that some refugee or merchant migrated to Japan and Korea in many waves. Kuroshio current make it very easy to travel from Shanhai(Wu)area. Chinese was nasty(like others) and love to use insulting characters such as barbarian or dog for others. Chinese intentionally misspelled Wu(吳)and replaced it with nasty character Wa(倭). Japanese had to replace it with 和 when discovered the meaning. Similarly Teochew is Zhou Zhao decedent. teo=chao=zhao 呉服gohuku (Wu cloth), 和服wahuku(Wa cloth), 着物kimono(Japanese cloth) are about same meaning. 呉れるkureru. So 呉 can be pronounced wu,go,ku, so why not wo. Or after few hundred years wu can become wo too.

Similarly Himiko has nasty Chinese phonetic translation 卑弥呼 it should be 日神子(sun princess,sun god child) 日巫女(sun priestess) or if it someone was to give girl name today 日美子(sun beauty child). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Real7777 (talkcontribs) 17:33, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

This is largely original research. You will need to provide reliable sources which confirm your claims before they can be added to the article. Wikipedia content needs to be verifiable by other people. --benlisquareTCE 01:40, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
Wō pronunciation and claims of Taibo Wu was written by Sima Qian. Not only that, 呉 is pronounced Oh or o in Korean last name. So there is clear evidence that 倭 was PHONETIC Wō. Of course there's possibilities that phonetic Wō and 倭(like Taiwanese Aborigine or others) got confused by ancient and merged. Evidance is 倭寇 "Japanese pirates" were mostly non-japanese.

倭 came from phonetic wo and there's no reason to get too deep in origin of character 倭?[edit]

Sima Qian “wo claim to be descendent taibo wu” and somewhere some nasty Chinese phonetically used character 倭? Wo became wa down the line and 和? If japanese had kanji back then they would have spelled their country(or town) as 呉?

By the time Japanese realized the nasty nature, it was too late and 倭 became common reference for Japan and even today it is used to reference old name? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Real7777 (talkcontribs) 17:33, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

  1. ^