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I know that it's a translation from Japanese, but I do not know why it becomes this. Could someone explain it in detail?

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Do you mean why "economy" is translated into "经"+"济" in Japanese? –  NS.X. Jan 1 '13 at 10:06
    
Actually in Japanese it'd be 経済 :-) I think the OP means that the word 経済 is originally Japanese. –  dda Jan 1 '13 at 13:28
    
Japanese 経済 is adapted from Chinese usage. Such adaptation is called Kanji in Japan. –  John Siu Jan 2 '13 at 2:44
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@JohnSiu The characters and were adapted from Chinese. The word 经济 was created in Japan, and it was borrowed into Chinese. Lots of words are like this (e.g., 科学, 社会, 電話) –  Stumpy Joe Pete Jan 2 '13 at 3:57
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@StumpyJoePete True. It seems it is going both ways. It is Chinese characters, but the current everyday meaning/usage is adapted from Japan. The terms 经济 do exist in Chinese history, but the meaning is different. –  John Siu Jan 2 '13 at 4:29

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The Japanese Wikipedia article to 経済 tells us this:

日本語である経済という語は、はじめpolitical economyの訳語として導入された。この訳語の作者は福澤諭吉であり、世の中を治め、人民を救うことを意味する経世済民(若しくは経国済民)を略した和製漢語といわれる。訳語として同時期に資生も提唱されたが、こちらはあまり普及しなかった。

Translation:

The term "経済" in Japanese was first derived as a translation from "political economy". The author of this translation was Fukuzawa Yukichi, who understood it as "経世済民" or "経国済民", which he intended to mean "Govern of the world, save the people", and thusly coined the term. He also suggested the term "資生" with the same meaning, which never became popular.

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Come on guys. "経済" couldn't be first derived from Japanese. Because they will not use Chinese characters. I think what the passage is saying the Japanese Character "経済"(slight different from Chinese) was first used in his book in Japan. Fukuzawa probably studied Chinese characters, read it some where else and used that term. –  tipsywacky Dec 13 '13 at 17:41

You can find an explanation here in Chinese.

Pasting verbatim (but let me know if you can't read/understand this):

“经济”一词的来历

  “经济”这一词来源于希腊语,其意思为“管理一个家庭的人”。唯物主义代表色诺芬在他的《经济法》中将“家庭”及“管理”两词的结合理解为经济。严复曾将经济一词翻为“生计”。日本人将其正式翻为经济,后由孙中山先生从日将这一说法引入中国。

  1、“经济”一词最初在《周易》一书中出现。“经”解释为“径”,即指阡陌(纵横的田地)。“济”字从水旁,解释为“渡”,即指渡水。

  2、公元4世纪初东晋时代已正式使用“经济”一词。“经济”在中华传统文化中的本来意思都是“经世济民”、“经国济物”,也就是治国平天下之意。

  3、古时有副对联:“文章西汉双司马,经济南阳一卧龙”,是夸奖司马迁的文章写得好,赞赏诸葛亮具有治理天下的卓越才能。这里面的经济就是经邦济世的意义。(因此有议论:“经济”这个词语在古代所代表的是知识分子的责任之一,而且是非常有深度、广度、高度的一个词语。能做到“经济”二字的人必须文能安邦兴业,武能御侮却敌。古代知识分子,特别是儒家学派的众人,会按照《大学》中“三纲八目”的要求去做学问、做人,而三纲八目最高的要求就是做到“治国平天下”,这个就是古代“经济”一词的最外向的表示。)

  4、19世纪下半叶开始,一些日本学者在译英语Economy时,借用了古汉语“经济”一词,从而使它的含义发生根本变化,变成了专指社会物质生产活动的用词。辛亥革命后,在孙中山先生的建议下,逐渐统一沿用日本学者的译法,从而使“经济”一词以新词的面貌在中国流传至今。

  5、古时人们对衣食住行、国家财政等方面的内容,是用什么词来表达呢?最初是用“食货”来表示。《汉书·食货志》对食货作了解释:“食”指农业生产;“货”指农家副业布帛的生产以及货币。此外,还出现了理财、富民、货殖等词。)

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Wikipedia also has a section(詞源) covering the origin of the terms 经济. However the English page does not carry the same section completely. –  John Siu Jan 2 '13 at 2:50
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@BD In (4), replace GM with 革命. The original author is using GM to by pass China web filtering. I cannot fix it as it is only 2 characters. –  John Siu Jan 2 '13 at 3:20
    
However, I still have no idea why Japanese would use "經濟" for it? –  Mike Manilone Jan 5 '13 at 12:18
    
I think "食貨" is better, or even "理財"... –  Mike Manilone Jan 5 '13 at 12:23
    
@MikeManilone Better for what? I'm not quite sure where your confusion lies; are you able to read the Chinese pasted above? –  user2251 Jan 5 '13 at 15:29

“经济”一词在古汉语中是“治理国家”的意思。后来被日本人作为西方经济学概念的翻译。当时中国学者的翻译是“生计学”、“计学”,到 1903 年以后在中国逐渐开始采用“经济学”。至于日本人为何翻译成“经济”,可能是联系了“经济”这个词原来的意义,具体的原因,我觉得应该去日语区问。

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Please read the post and existing answers... The question is not about the characters. It is about the word. –  Stumpy Joe Pete Jan 13 '13 at 18:59
    
@StumpyJoePete,“经济”一词在古汉语中是“治理国家”的意思。后来被日本人作为西方经济学概念的翻译。当时中国学者的翻译是“生计学”、“计学”,到 1903 年以后在中国逐渐开始采用“经济学”。至于日本人为何翻译成“经济”,可能是联系了“经济”这个词原来的意义,具体的原因,我觉得应该去日语区问。 –  shuangwhywhy Jan 13 '13 at 23:22
    
Your comment is better than your answer! You should edit this information into your answer--you'll get my upvote at least. –  Stumpy Joe Pete Jan 14 '13 at 9:14

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