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 characterBroadway 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.