Fabian R Lischka bio photo

Fabian R Lischka

Buenos Aires, Moers, Karlsruhe, Warwick, London, Palo Alto, Hong Kong; Goldman, Credit Suisse, HackerSchool, metric system, The Economist.

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In Mandarin Chinese, America is called "美国", land of beauty, while Germany is "德国", land of virtue. Now, these names are flattering at first; but then, "美“, beauty, is pronounced měi as in America, and "德" is as in Deutschland. The suspicion that these names are phonetic rather than meaningful is driven home by the fact that the translation of "France" is "法国", land of law/order (Fǎguó), and of "England" "英国", land of heros (Yīngguó).

Other nice phonetic names are "意大利" (Yīdàlì) for Italy and "加拿大" (Jiānádà) for Canada.

Intriguingly, the character for beauty, "美", is composed of "羊", meaning sheep, and "大", big, so (at least at some point in Chinese History), big + sheep = beautiful.

Hence one could argue that in Chinese, America is the land of big sheep.