Background: Jutland is the peninsula which makes up part of Denmark, and it was the site of the WWI Battle of Jutland (which is one of the main reasons "Jutland" would be written about at all in other languages). In Danish, it's pronounced ˈjylanˀ, and in German, it's pronounced ˈjyːtlant. That is, it starts with a "y" sound, and in German (the language of one of the participants of the battle), it retains the "t" sound as well.

Choice of 日?: So if it starts with a "y" sound, why was 日 chosen to transliterate the first syllable? In Mandarin, this is a poor fit. However, in Cantonese, it is pronouned jat6 (where "j" is, like in German, a "y" sound). This doesn't fully resolve the mystery though--the 德 in Cantonese is dak1, which is a worse fit than the Manadarin.

When was Jutland first written as 日德兰? What dialect was being used to make this transliteration?*


日 in Jyutping (Cantonese pinyin) is [jat6] which sounds similar to 'Ju' in "Jutland"

德 in Jyutping is [dak1] which sounds similar to 'tl' in "Jutland"

and 兰 is the common transliteration in both Cantonese and Mandarin


my best guess is that it's transliterated from jutland in british english, according to cantonese. here's the rationale:

the earliest book mentioned jutland in chinese, is "海國圖志" by 魏源, which was published in 1843. in its preface, mr 魏 stated that his book is derived from 林則徐's translation of a foreign book "四洲志".

in "海國圖志" volume 58, page 44-66, the entry of "嗹國" (the old name of denmark in chinese) stated:

東有三島.曰臘蘭.曰府領.曰西蘭 (p45)

lolland --> 臘蘭, funen --> 府領, zealand --> 西蘭

imo, cantonese perfectly transliterated the british english, in the translation of 府領 & 西蘭.

西蘭島之戈西哈林.即國都也 (p45)

即都城.一作可品哈音.一作哥卑納給 (p47)

copenhagen --> 戈西哈林, 哥卑納給

københavn --> 可品哈

again, 可品哈 in cantonese is, perfect match of danish "københavn"

隔海西北為人德蘭部 (p47)

人德蘭東北西俱海 (p48)

jutland, initially is transliterated as "人德蘭"

一入德蘭部.一石勒蘇益克部.一科爾斯德音部.一勞英不爾厄部 (p61)

i suspected "入" is a typo error of "人" here.

in another book "瀛寰志略" by 徐繼畬, printed in 1848; the entry "denmark" is in volume 4, p73-79, jutland was also translated as "人德蘭".

極北曰人德蘭.地極廣莫.多沙磧 (p76)

人德蘭之東南.有大島曰非俄尼亞 (p77)

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back to the question

When was Jutland first written as 日德兰? What dialect was being used to make this transliteration?*

i think cantonese was used. compare "府領" to funnel, "西蘭" to zealand.

about the time, it must be later than 1848.

prior to these two books, info of europe countries were rare, and brief. so, jutland in chinese, was first introduced in 1843, by mr 林.

so, why 人德蘭 changed to 日德蘭?

well, using the character "人" in places name is, very awkward . e.g. "people of jutland", it would become "人德蘭人". most likely, someone thought the same, then changed it from 人 (yan4, low level tone) to 日 (yat6, low entering tone) such change preserved the low tone and the phoneme /a/.

just to remind, such is my guess only.


Q: 中日德兰是怎么翻译

A: 这是二战时期中方学者的翻译吧,德语Jütland半岛。当时的知识分子很多自带粤语闽南语口音,那时的很多翻译现在看真是哭笑不得。像这种翻译一看就是不规范的,mid作为地名不建议翻成“中”,比如米德尔斯堡Middlesbrough 。又比如Newcastle纽卡斯尔,就不宜翻成“新堡”,而可笑的是,New Zealand居然又翻成新西兰,New York怎么又不敢翻成“新约克”?所以中方的翻译问题太多,一是规范形同虚设,而是译者自己的外文水平不敢恭维,一旦错译又约定俗成以讹传讹了,比如很多法语葡语的翻译笑料。midtyland准确的音译应该是米居兰。

The Baidu Zhidao answer suggests Cantonese or Min Nan. Again, there are many variations of Cantonese and Min, how the individual characters were pronounced in the topolect that the translator who transliterated this spoke, we'll probably never know.

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