Country and language

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
updated

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Demonym




guó
(n) nation, country


rén
(n) person


shì
is (equals)

Nation+ren=nationality (ie, America + ren = American person); adjective+ren=type (ie, nice + ren = nice person)

Places


外國
外国
wàiguó
foreign country

Chinatown Los Angeles 國 / 国 guó chinese character
Broadway Ave, Chinatown, LA (© 2013)


中國
中国
zhōngguó
China

Chinese person is 中國人中国人. Chinese written language is 中國文中国文. Chinese spoken language is . All nations follow this same pattern.


美國
美国
měiguó
USA

American person is 美國人美国人 měiguórén. American language (American English) is 美國文美国文 měiguówén (written) and 美國語美国语 měiguóyǔ (spoken).

Chinatown Los Angeles 美國 / 美国 Měiguó chinese character
美國美国 Chinatown, LA © 2013


英國
英国
yīngguó
England

墨西哥
mòxīgē
Mexico

加州
jiāzhōu
California

洛杉磯
洛杉磯
luòshānjī
Los Angeles

Chinatown Los Angeles 洛杉磯 / 洛杉矶 luòshānjī los angeles chinese character
洛杉磯洛杉磯. Chinatown, LA © 2013


日本
rìběn
Japan

Language



wén
(n) written language




(n) spoken language

Chinese distinguishes between the oral and written facets of a language. This may seem unusual in a nation like England, but it is useful in China, which (mostly) has one written language but many spoken dialects. 文 Wén is used to refer to a written language. Add 文 after the nation's name to denote that nation's written language. Yǔ is used to refer to an spoken language. Add after the nation's name to denote nation's oral language. (However, in a rare irregularity, there is no 中語中语 zhōngyǔ -- just 漢語汉语 hànyǔ.) Of course, 文 and sometimes overlap. You are reading 英文 yīngwén but if you read it aloud you are speaking 英語英语 yīngyǔ.


説 / 說

shuō
(v) to speak / say

The character can be freely written as 説 or 說 in traditional form.