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China

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China

Postby Cacasenno » Sat Aug 09, 2008 12:27 pm

China

SYLLABICATION: chi·na
PRONUNCIATION: chn
NOUN: 1. High-quality porcelain or ceramic ware, originally made in China. 2. Porcelain or earthenware used for the table. (*)
ETYMOLOGY: Persian chn, ultimately from Chinese (Mandarin) Qín, Qin. See Qin.
WORD HISTORY: Our term china for porcelain or ceramic ware is a shortening of chinaware and probably china dishes. Although the word china is identical in spelling to the name of the country, there are 16th- and 17th-century spellings like chiney, cheny, and cheney that reflect the borrowing into English of the Persian term for this porcelain, chn. The Persian word and the Sanskrit word cn, “Chinese people,” which gave us the English name for the country, go back to the Chinese word Qín, the name of the dynasty that ruled China from 221 to 206 b.c.


The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.


(*) Strangely, The American Heritage® Dictionary makes no direct reference to the country of China, with or without capital C
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Postby Slava » Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:28 pm

How language changes! China used to mean high-quality porcelain. Now, Made in China is pretty much a pejorative.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:07 pm

Odd that a mere15 year dynasty could give the country its name. Any idea how chn is pronounced the Persian? I noticed you included no vowels in the first category.
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Postby Slava » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:12 pm

Perry Lassiter wrote:Odd that a mere15 year dynasty could give the country its name. Any idea how chn is pronounced the Persian? I noticed you included no vowels in the first category.
The absence of vowels is not my fault. Way back in the early days of this board, copying text from other sites did not always work, leaving vowels dropped and abandoned to the ether. You'll come across it fairly often if you cruise the old stuff.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:08 am

I like to cruise the old stuff, but it's a little sad when you run into folks who no longer post. Some had a lot to say. If they're lurking, i'd love to see them re-emerge.
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Postby Slava » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:42 am

Perry Lassiter wrote:I like to cruise the old stuff, but it's a little sad when you run into folks who no longer post. Some had a lot to say. If they're lurking, i'd love to see them re-emerge.
I wholeheartedly agree. As the song goes, I second that emotion.
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Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Apr 24, 2012 4:29 pm

I believe the Farsi word for China, both the country and porcelain, Is pronounced CHEE-nee. We can guess the old Persian language had the same vowels. I know many Farsi speakers and that is what I think I hear them say. If you want to know whether Persian or Farsi is a PIE language, just get a Farsi speaker to count for you and say a few common words. You will think you already know the language. Then, of course, it gets harder. If you want to read Farsi you have to invest in learning their alphabet. I'm too old to do that. During Marco Polo's days, there was debate in Europe whether Cathay and China were the same country. Turns out they were/are.
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