Are the Chinese names for certain countries meant to be complimented?
Actualy, NO. Or more accurately: not intentionally to be complimentary at all.
For example, USA is not intentionally meant to be called “beautiful”. We will tell this story by including the Hán Việt version (Sino Vietnamese). You will understand why shortly.
Nowadays in Chinese, United States of America is called Mỹ Lợi Kiên hợp chúng quốc (美利堅合眾國), in short as Mỹ quốc (美國)
Within that full name, “Mỹ Lợi Kiên” (美利堅 – “Měilìjiān”) is the Chinese transliteration of “American” without the word “A” (basically a Chinese phonetic version of Murican).
In Chinese version of “Điều ước Vọng Hạ” (Treaty of Wanghia – Wikipedia) in 1844, USA is called “Á Mỹ Lý Giá châu đại hợp chúng quốc” (亞美理駕洲大合眾國). Á Mỹ Lý Giá = transliteration of “America”
So basically whatever words in Chinese at the time of reference that people feel can help them pronounce the English words.
In Vietnamese, we also use the word “mỹ” (Měi) = “beautiful” to call USA in a similar fashion in Sino Vietnamese or Hán Việt
United States of America = Hợp Chủng Quốc Á Mỹ Lợi Gia
United States = Hợp Chủng Quốc = Melting Pot of Nations
America = Á Mỹ Lợi Gia (transliteration: the method of mapping from one system of writing to another based on phonetic similarity)
Often Shortened as Mỹ cuz that whole name is too damn long.
😅 Bonus for Chinese speakers to guess what Chinese words correlate to Sino Vietnamese words: Washington – Hoa Thịnh Ðốn; Arlington – Ái Linh Tân; Boston- Bột Tân; Hollywood – Hồ Ly Vọng, Hoa Lệ Ước; Los Angeles -Lộc An Gia Lệ; New Orleans -Ngọc Lân,Tân Linh; New York City -, Nữu Ước; Philadelphia -Huynh Đệ Thành; San Francisco – Cựu Kim Sơn, Phan Sinh Thành; Atlanta- Á Lan Đại; Chicago-Chi Gia Kha; Seattle-Tây Mã Đồ 😅
Many of the country names in Vietnamese follow this Sino Vietnamese (or what we called Hán Việt) transliteration (based on local words with similar sound to English) so I can understand many of the “nonsense” here ⬇️ even though I don’t know any Chinese. The reason for many countries with the word “Orchid” at the end of their name is because “land” is mispronounced as (hoa) “lan” which means “orchid”.
Ireland = 爱尔兰 = Ái Nhĩ Lan = Love Your Orchid.
Ái = Love. Nhĩ = You. Lan = Land
“France” = 法 蘭 西 = Pháp Lan Tây. Pháp (the short version) = Law as in “Luật Pháp”. Hence “Law land”
Deusch = Đức = Moral as in “Đạo Đức” hence “Moral land”
Italy / Italie = 意大利 = Ý Đại Lợi. Ý = implied meaning. Đại = big. Lợi = Profit. So “Meaning Big Profit”
Belgium / Belgique = 比利時 = Bỉ Lợi Thời (short as Bỉ). Bỉ Lợi is probably Google — translated back to English as “Billy” (probably as another Chinese transliteration of the name Billy). Thời = The Time. Hence “Billy time”
Turkey = 土耳其 = Thổ Nhĩ Kỳ. Thổ = Earth. Nhĩ = Ear. Kỳ (I don’t know why this word is translated to “It’s”)
Spain / Espagne = 西班牙 = Tây Ban Nha. Tây = West. “Ban Nha” = Glasstooth