Chinese translation of foreign geographical names
“坤輿萬國全圖” is the first map of China with geographical names in chinese characters. “海國圖志” and “瀛環志略” are the representative world geography of 19th century China. This paper studied the chinese translation of geographical names in these map and books.
‘美國’ is short for ‘美利堅合衆國’, ‘英國’ for ‘英吉利國’, ‘法國’ for ‘法蘭西’, and ‘德國’ for ‘德意志(國)’. Chinese character translation of western country geographical names in Korea before and after the enlightenment period was mostly influenced by China, so it is similar to China, but the translation different from chinese translation such as ‘伊太利’, ‘佛蘭西’, ‘露西亞’, ‘獨逸’, ‘濠洲’, they were influenced by Japan. As the chinese scholars claim, most chinese translation used good chinese characters such as '美, 英, 法, 德, 意' in translation of western country names or city names.
The fact that Japan called ‘米國’ was not Japanese translation, but was found that it was influenced by chinese geography books including “海國圖志”.
In the provincial cities of China's port openings, the geographical names that first translated into Cantonese, Min Nan, and Shanghai are still in use. Most foreign names were transliterated based on English names, but ‘獨逸’, ‘和蘭’, ‘西班牙’ and ‘希臘’ were transliterated based on the original sound or other notes of the country, not English.
Due to historical reasons, most of Korea's chinese character notation of western country names are the same as in Japan. It is interesting that ‘美國’ is an exception.