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Re: [conculture] Names of countries and national languages

From:Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
Date:Sunday, September 23, 2007, 12:45
On 9/23/07, Benct Philip Jonsson <conlang@...> wrote:
> What I meant to say/ask was that as far as I know it is the > case for all the national states of Europe that the name of > the country and the name of the national language are > derived from the same base.
I suppose you're talking specifically about the names in that national language, otherwise you have (especially for Germany) pairs such as Germania : tedesco (Italian), Germanija : nemetskij (Russian). In many cases, I presume that what happened is that both derive from the name of the people -- with the country being essentially "place of the X" and the language being called "language of the X". (Often, the language name is, or is very transparently derived from, an adjective which refers to the people. Sometimes, the language name is also an adverb form, along the lines of "to speak Xly", i.e. "to speak the way the Xs do")
> Even outside Europe exceptions are rare, except for Africa > where ethnic boundaries and old colonial boundaries seldom > coincide. Urdu in Pakistan and Hebrew in Israel are > transparent special cases.
It also depends on which name for the language you pick. For example, in Japan, the local language is called not only Nihongo ("Japan-language", obviously related to Nihon "Japan") but also Kokugo ("national language"), which term is also used in Korea to mean "Korean" (there "gug-eo") and in Taiwan to mean "Chinese" (there "kuo-yü"). And Mandarin is referred to not only as Kuo-yü/Guoyu ("national language") but also as zhongwen ("Middle [Kingdom] language"), huayu ("Chinese language") and putonghua ("common speech"). Cheers, -- Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>