A Comparison of (Jap) Kuni “Land, Country, State”, (Mo) Ulus and (Ma) Gurun

A Comparison of (Jap) Kuni “Land, Country, State”, (Mo) Ulus and (Ma) Gurun
Kyoko Maezono
University of Jena, Germany
(59th Annual Meeting of the PIAC, 2016)

The Japanese word kuni has the meaning “land, country, state“. If a Japanese asks a non-Japanese Okuni wa dochira desu ka. “Where is your kuni? / Where do you come from?” kuni means “home country”. If a Japanese asks the same question another Japanese kuni means “home region”. Since the very beginning as the Japanese language was written down this word was documented and it is still used very often in the daily life.

The modern Khalkha-Mongolian word улс (< ulus) has the meaning “state, government, people, dynasty” (Tömörtogoo 1979). This Mongolian word corresponds often to the Manchu word gurun. In this paper the Japanese word kuni in its oldest chronicle Kojiki 古事記 (712 A.D.) will be compared with the Mongolian word ulus and the Manchu word gurun in their earliest usages which we can find. In this paper it ́ll be also discussed which meanings these words had and how they were used especially at the time of foundation of their nations.

The language materials for the comparison are as follows:
  • Japanese: Kojiki 古事記 “Records of Ancient Matters” (712 A.D.)
  • Mongolian: Manghol-un Niuca Tobca’an 元朝秘史 “Secret History of the Mongols” (13c.)
  • Manchu and Mongolian: Manju-i yargiyan kooli 満洲實録 “Veritable Records of the Manchus” (1781)
  • Manchu and Mongolian: han-i araha sunja hacin-i hergen kamciha manju gisun-i buleku bithe 御製五体清文鑑 “Pentaglot Dictionary” (1794?)