Teach Yourself Japanese
Subject: Re: にほん or にっぽん
From: bamboo1 (bambookt.rim.or.jp)
Date: Sun, 29 Dec 2002 16:05:00 GMT
References: 1, 2, 3
In the old days, Japan was called "Yamato" and also "Hinomoto." When kanji was used to show "Hinotomo," kanji 日本 was adopted, which originally was pronounced "Nippon." Later, its variation "Nihon" came into use.
The pronunciation "Nippon" has the kanji based solid sound including the plosive "p," while "Nihon" retains the sense of "Yamato kotoba," and thus sounds softer to the ear. There is no official definition of how one would refer to Japan, even though in deplomatic parlance "Nippon" is preferred over "Nihon." At the present time, in combined words in which 日本 is used, the pronunciation of "Nihon" is prevalent.
Thus, 日本 in such combined words as 日本記録 (Japan record), 日本語 (the Japanese language), 日本標準時 (Japan Standard Time), 日本製 (Made in Japan), 日本刀 (Japanese sword), 日本民族 (Japanese race), 日本アルプス (Japan Alps), etc., are more often pronouced as "Nihon," but some people would pronounce them as "Nippon."
The Bank of Japan's formal name is "Nippon Ginkô" (which appears on the Japanese currency) and NHK is "Nippon Hôsô Kyôkai (日本放送協会)." 日本橋 in Osaka is pronounced as "Nippon Bashi," but 日本橋 in Tokyo is pronounced as "Nihon Bashi." In cheerleading, "Nippon!" is used probably because the plosive of "p" makes it more emphatic than "Nihon."
In all other instances of combined words including "日本," "Nihon" is predominantly used.
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