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I saw these 3 and now I'm confused. Which one is more common? Where are and what for are they used?

法国
法兰西
法兰斯

4

For your question, as a native Chinese speaker, I use 法國。


There seems to be some categories of way we name countries:

  • Sound and meaning transcription. e.g. 新西蘭 (New Zealand), 美利堅合衆國 (USA)
  • Sound transcription e.g. 紐西蘭 (New Zealand)
  • Shortened transcription (1 character + 國) e.g. 美國 (USA)

Sometimes, we may name some countries with more than one way using rules above.

法國、俄國、英國、美國. These short forms are the most commonly used names for the countries: France, Russia, UK, USA. This may only work if the country's name can be represented with only 1 Chinese character (since Chinese love disyllabic words more than monosyllabic words). Otherwise, we would use rules below.

From personal experience, we don't usually say the full form of names if a short form is commonly used, perhaps except for 俄羅斯 (Russia).

Here are some we don't extract the first character + 國. For example, 意大利 (Italy), 新加坡/星加坡 (Singapore). Singapore may be called 星洲/星島 (Singapore Island). 澳大利亞 may be shortened to 澳洲 (Australia Island). If the sound transcription of the name is already 2 syllables, then we never shorten it.


I have no conclusive answer for the reason of the pattern though.

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  • 俄国 is a bit of an anomaly, it’s caught on in TW but you’d mostly only hear 俄罗斯 on the mainland. Not sure why though. – user3306356 Mar 9 at 18:45
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Note: I don't know French, so names are in English. 法'兰'西 is the phonetic translation of F'ran'ce. And 法国 is actually an acronym of 法兰西共和国(translation of French Republic, where Republic is 共和国 ), which means the first and the second are the exactly same meaning. While 法兰斯 is not commonly used, use 法兰西 instead.

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1

Here, I googled it for you: Google Ngram Viewer

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In Taiwan, people mostly use 法國 to call this country. You get more result if you google "法國" than that of "法蘭西共和國". 76400000 vs 356000. 法國 is abbreviation for 法蘭西共和國 which is used on Ministry of Foreign Affair Republic of China. 法蘭西共和國 is used on the headline. While 法國 is used on normal text. This example shows the usage of the words by government in Taiwan. Taiwan Centers for Disease Control uses 法國 on the headline too. This example also shows the usage of the words by government in Taiwan.

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  • Why the mark down? An explanation is appreciated. South-East Asian Chinese too use 法國. 法兰西 which is actually a transliteration of "France" is an out dated term. Does the United Nation Organization use 法兰西 to refer to the French Republic? I stand corrected if it does. – Wayne Cheah Mar 19 at 3:43
  • I don't know why they just don't say 我去法蘭西共和國玩 or 法蘭西共和國麵包, they use 我去法國玩 and 法國麵包 instead. – 000 Mar 19 at 22:56
  • I downvoted a "someone on the Internet said so" unevidenced, undeveloped answer. It's unreliable (irrespective of whether or not its correct). – Becky 李蓓 Mar 25 at 4:50
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As a Beijing native, I can responsibly tell you that the word "法国" is the most common and commonly used word in modern Chinese.

"法兰西" is a transliteration of the full name of France, and "法兰斯" has no corresponding expression in Chinese.

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