日本の読み方は、にほん?にっぽん? [どっちシリーズ その1]

[English below]

こんにちは、みなさんお元気ですか?こちら日本は六月も後半に入り、だんだん暑さと湿度が増してきました。猛暑までのカウントダウンは間違いなく始まっています :shaved_ice: 溶けるヨ

さて、今日から週に一度の頻度で日本語の豆知識を発信していこうと思います!まずは、日本語のネイティブでも「あれ?どっちが正解なんだっけ?」とか「この二つはどう違うんだっけ?」と迷いがちな漢字や読み方、語彙、表現などを扱うつもりです。名付けて、「どっち?!シリーズ」!

記事は日本語と英語の両方で書く予定です。英語については間違いがあっても大目に見てね :wink:

記念すべき第一回目は、「日本」の読み方について。「にほん」か「にっぽん」か。みなさんはどちらが正しいと思いますか?

正解は、、、「にほん」と「にっぽん」の両方です!過去に何度か政府が読み方の統一を図ったそうですが、公式に統一されることのないまま今に至ります。まさか、正式な国号が定まってない国があるなんて…。

読み方が二通りあるとはいえ、現在では「にほん」の方が優勢です。NHK(日本放送協会)は正式な国号として「にっぽん」を使うと決めているようですが、日常生活で「にっぽん」と言う人に会うことはほぼありません。というわけで、文プロの例文の中でもふりがなを「にほん」で統一しています。

ちなみに、日本酒(にほんしゅ)や東京の日本橋(にほんばし)、大阪の日本橋(にっぽんばし)のように読み方がどちらかに決まっている単語や固有名詞はあります。


そもそも、なぜ読み方が二つもあるのか? :woman_shrugging:

古来、日本は自国を「やまと」と呼んでいました。しかし、中国(唐)が日本を「日の本(もと)の国」という意味で「二エットプアン」と呼び、日本人もこの発音を真似て「にっぽん」と呼ぶようになったと言われています。そこから発展して「にほん」という読み方が生まれたようです。(諸説あり)


読み方ごとのニュアンスの違いは? :face_with_monocle:

一般的に「にっぽん」は力強く、「にほん」は柔らかいと言われます。「にっぽん」が、今もスポーツの場でよく使われるのはそのためでしょう。国際的なスポーツ大会の場では、観客が皆で声を合わせて日本代表チームに「ニッポン!チャチャチャ(手拍子)!」や「頑張れ、ニッポン!」と声援を送ります。

また、戦前に使用されていた国号である「大日本帝国」は「だいにっぽんていこく」と読まれていました。「にっぽん」という語感はそれを連想させるとして、あえて使わないという人もいます。


今後、読み方を統一する可能性は? :eyes:

「にほん」が優勢な読み方なら、なぜそれを正式に採用しないのでしょうか?先ほどもちらっと触れましたが、今まで何度か読み方を統一しようという動きはありました。直近では、2009年の麻生太郎政権時に政府内で正式な読み方について質疑応答があったようです。しかし、そこで出された答えは「どちらも広く普及しているため、統一する必要はない」というもの。

今後どうなるかはわかりませんが、重要なことにもかかわらずどっちつかずな態度でいるところが日本らしいといえば日本らしい…と思いつつも、これも日本語の多様性の一つと捉えることもできそうです :grin: :heart:

結論:「にほん」でも「にっぽん」でも間違いではないけど、日常使いとしては「にほん」がよさげ。

では、また!千絢より :smiley_cat:

English

Hello, everyone! How are you all doing? It is now late June here in Japan, and it’s gradually getting hotter and more humid. The countdown to the scorching summer has definitely begun :shaved_ice: Melting away

Starting from today, I’m planning to share Japanese language tidbits once a week! I’ll cover kanji characters, readings, vocabulary, expressions, and other things that even native Japanese speakers often find themselves questioning, like, ‘Wait, which one is correct?’ or ‘How are these two different?’ Let’s call it the ‘Which one?! series’!

I’ll be writing the articles in both English and Japanese. For the English version, please overlook any mistakes :wink:

For the first edition, I’ll share about how to pronounce ‘日本 - Japan.’ Is it ‘Nihon’ or ‘Nippon’? What do you all think is correct?

The answer is… both ‘Nihon’ and ‘Nippon’ are correct! Apparently, the government has tried to standardize the pronunciation several times in the past, but it’s never been officially unified. Who would’ve thought there’s a country without a definite official name…?

Although there are two ways to pronounce it, ‘Nihon’ is currently more common. NHK, Nippon Hoso Kyokai, seems to use ‘Nippon’ as the official national name, but you rarely hear it in daily life. Therefore, Bunpro uses ‘Nihon’ as furigana for our example sentences.

By the way, there are words and proper nouns like ‘日本酒 - Nihonshu’ (Japanese sake), ‘日本橋 - Nihonbashi’ in Tokyo , and ‘日本橋 - Nipponbashi’ in Osaka, which the pronunciations are fixed.


Why are there two ways to pronounce it in the first place? :woman_shrugging:

Historically, Japan called itself ‘Yamato.’ However, since China (Tang Dynasty) called 日本 ‘Niet puən’ meaning ‘origin of the sun’, Japanese people started imitating this pronunciation, leading to “Nippon.” From there, it evolved into the pronunciation ‘Nihon’ (There are various theories).


What are the nuances of each pronunciation? :face_with_monocle:

Generally, the sound of ‘Nippon’ is considered powerful, while the one of ‘Nihon’ is softer. ‘Nippon’ is still frequently used in sports settings. In international sports events, you’ll often hear spectators cheering for the Japanese team, chanting ‘Nippon! Cha-cha-cha! (clapping)’ or ‘Go, Nippon!’

Moreover, the pre-war official name 大日本帝国 ‘Great Empire of Japan’ was read as ‘Dai Nippon Teikoku’. The pronunciation ‘Nippon’ reminds some people of it, so they deliberately avoid using it.


Is there a possibility of unifying the pronunciation in the future? :eyes:

If ‘Nihon’ is the common pronunciation, why not set it officially? As mentioned earlier, there have been attempts to unify the pronunciation in the past. Most recently, during Prime Minister Aso Taro’s administration in 2009, there was a Q&A session within the government regarding the official pronunciation. However, the answer given was, ‘Both pronunciations are widely used, so there’s no need to unify them.’

We don’t know what the future holds, but perhaps it’s very Japanese to avoid making definitive decisions… Or, while I feel that way, we could also view this fact as one aspect of the diversity of the Japanese language :grin: :heart:

In conclusion: Both ‘Nihon’ and ‘Nippon’ are correct, but for everyday use, ‘Nihon’ seems preferable.

See you next time! From Chihiro :smiley_cat:

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千絢さん、記事を書いてくれてありがとうございます。

日本の元々の名前は知りませんでした。そのことにすごく驚きました!

じゃあ、次の記事を楽しみにしています。またね!

English

Chihiro, thank you for writing that article.

I did not know the original name of Japan. That surprised me a lot!

Well, looking forward to your next article. See you later!

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Wow! It’s really interesting! Thank you for the great explanation and interesting history lesson :smiley: Looking forward to the next one!

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本当にどっちかなぁー? とっても素晴らしいおやぶんですね!
この記事を書いてくれてありがとうございます。勉強になりました!

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This is an awesome idea, and I love trying to read the post on my own! I have a few questions/comments if anyone here can help.

I found 発信していこうと思います! to be quite interesting, mainly for the 発信 portion, I was a little confused by the していこう but I believe its just ていく in it’s volitional form showing that the series will go on to continue in the future. But just the word itself 発信 / 発信する I looked it up on jisho however I found the definitions to be a bit difficult to fully grasp, what would you say is the core logic behind this word? It breaks down to 「departure, trust」is it best thought of as sharing information?

Additionally 記念すべき第一回目は was also a bit difficult for me. The usage of すべき mainly. This is saying it’s a first edition that should be commemorated? It seems most translation tools tend to just leave out any real translation of the べき here so I find it a bit difficult to properly appreciate I think.

This sentence in general 「公式に統一されることのないまま今に至ります」I find to be quite difficult. Very literally it’s something like 公式に (Officially) 統一されることのないまま今に (The current status of now that has not been unified) 至ります (Has reached…?) Why is 至りました not used but instead it is just plain form? Or if it’s describing the current state in Japanese and we just have to make it past in English then why isn’t 至っています used to describe the present continuous state of the situation?

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Hi, thank you for reading and giving comments. I’m glad that the post is used as one of your learning tools!

Your understanding of していこう is perfect! The definition of 発信 is ‘to send information to be conveyed by mail, telegram, email, and other means.’ Like the use in this post, it’s also used for sending/sharing information (online) nowadays.

すべき refers to something that must or should be done. So, your understanding that ‘it’s a first edition that should be commemorated’ is correct! It’s a very common phrase in Japanese and is often used with expressions like 記念すべき最初の (the first something that should be commemorated), 記念すべき日 (the day that should be commemorated), 記念すべき節目 (the milestone that should be commemorated), and so on.

至る generally means ‘to reach’ or ‘to result in.’ The nuance of the sentence is something like ‘the status remains unchanged and has reached today/now.’
The reason I use the present tense is that it reflects the current state with an implication that it could continue in the future. 至りました and 至っています can also be used, depending on what you want to emphasize. 至りました focus on a past event ended at the specific point, and set a distinction between ‘now’ and ‘the future’, so it may not perfectly fit in this context where the same state will likely continue. 至っています would be a nice choice if you want to stress an ongoing state a bit more. It makes the sentence slightly more lively rather than 至りました which sounds a bit more descriptive.

Hope the above answers your questions :muscle:

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Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! It was super helpful I really appreciate it! 勉強になりました

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