I was reading a Japanese news in the morning and I found a headline 仏マクロン with my stupidity and limited Japanese knowledge. I assume it means a macaron (dessert) inspired by Buddha. (Like many dessert in Japan like Buddha icecream)
After I read 2-3 more sentences I found it would make no sense if they are talking about dessert. So I googled it and to my surprise 仏 mean French so 仏マクロン = Macron of French (the president). 米国=The US does not make any sense but 仏 ＝ French is the next level mindblowing.
So I guess each countries should have their own Kanji, right? Then all the historic videogames, anime, manga, and LN like Hetalia should make pun base on this at some point, right? This is crazy yet funny.
仏 is basically an abbreviation of 仏蘭西. Since the countries of the world (for the most part) existed before the invention of katakana, they’ve also got a way of writing them in ateji kanji.
That’s ateji for you!
See the “words that borrow the reading of the characters” section in this tofugu article for an explanation:
仏 is an abbreviation of 仏蘭西, which is just a collection of kanji that spell フランス.
A lot of countries (I wouldn’t go so far as to say all) have that treatment, like 蘭 from 阿蘭陀 (オランダ) for Holland.
When encountering ateji, the mind leaps to the sound, not the meaning, so a native reader probably isn’t going to think about Buddha when they think about France, but it’d probably be good fodder for puns, yeah.
One I quite like is that 英語 (from 英吉利) means “British English”, 米語 (from 亜米利加) means “American English”, and 豪語 (from 豪太剌利) means “boasting; big talk”. Sounds about right to me.
Thanks guy, those history and culture contexts make learning langauges engagin and interesting.
Since the countries of the world (for the most part) existed before the invention of katakana
Before the convention of writing foreign loan words in katakana, you mean. Katakana have been in use for many hundreds of years.
Looking forward to the kanji of South Sudan!
… So has the word “France” - for example, the country was referred to as “Francia” in the Treaty of Verdun in 843 AD.
But I’ll give you a pass on 豪太剌利.
I found the kanji for India once (印度)
tbh I have no idea what it conveys in terms of meaning, probably just used the phonetics
Yep, that’s exactly what ateji is
It obviously means cat pirate seat.
And these youngun’s too 亜米利加
I just realized the 印 in 印度 is not cat pirate, but seal… Well, I’m dumb, but cat pirate is way funnier.
Well, if you are nitpicking like that, I feel like 印 looks closer to cat pirate than 度 to 席…
Holy crap, even joking these two got me
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