Chinese logic -49 东京 | 西京 | 南京 | 北京waveChinese 25th August 2016
The logic of Chinese language helps learners learn new words without too much difficulty. Eastern country capitals follow an easy to remember pattern - although this doesn't extend to the West!
Look at the map
Teacher: Beijing is here. Shanghai is here. Shanghai is next to Hangzhou and Nanjing. Hangzhou and Nanjing are both ancient cities.
Mark: Why does Beijing have the name "Beijing" and Nanjing have the name "Nanjing"?
Teacher: "Jing" means "capital." Beijing is just a capital in the north. Nanjing is a capital in the south.
Mark: I know Beijing is the capital of China. Why is Nanjing also the capital?
Teacher: Nanjing used to be the capitals of six dynasties in history.
Mark: That is awesome!
Teacher: There is a greater one. Xi'an used to be the capitals of thirteen dynasties. We call it "Ancient Capital of Thirteen Dynasties."
Mark: In that case, Nanjing is "Ancient Capital of Six Dynasties." But why isn't Xi'an's name Xijing?
Teacher: Good question. Xi'an was just called Xijing once in the history.
Mark: Beijing, Nanjing, Xijing, is there Dongjing in that case?
Teacher: That's a good question. Dongjing means a capital in the east. There was a Dongjing in Chinese history. However, Dongjing is the capital of Japan at present.
Mark: Why is Japan's capital called Dongjing?
Teacher: Chinese characters are a part of the Japanese language. In Japan, most places have names written in Chinese characters. Kyoto was the capital of Japan formerly, Tokyo was called Edo originally, but the Japanese moved their capital from Kyoto to Edo in 1868 and gave Edo a new name - Tokyo.
Mark: That's it. There is much to learn from place-names. Thank you for your explanation, sir.
Teacher: You're welcome. You will learn more interesting Chinese culture later.
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