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I read about Chinese names for some countries around China and became very intrigued. Let me show some of it.

https://www.quora.com/The-Chinese-name-for-China-m...
by Gabriel Chan, quintilingual part-time polyglot

中國 (China), "central state", i.e. where x- & y-axis intersect (reference point)
日本 (Japan), “sun's origin", i.e. in the extreme east, where the sun rises.
朝鮮 (Korea), "morning calm", i.e. in the near east, sun has risen higher.
越南 (Vietnam), "extreme south", i.e. the deep south, very far, far away.

Pronunciations:

中國 zhongguo (Mandarin) chungkwok (Cantonese) Trung Quoc (Vietnamese) chūgoku (Japanese) chung kuk or chung guk or jung guk (Korean)
日本 riben (Mando) yatboon (Canto) Nhat Ban (Viet) Nippon or Nihon (Jap) il bon (Kor)
朝鮮 chaoxian (Mando) chiusin (Canto) Trieu Tien (Viet) chōsen (Jap) chosun or choseon or joseon (Kor)
越南 yuenan (Mando) yuetnam (Canto) Viet Nam (Vietnamese) etsunan or esunan but now usually use katakana betonamu (Jap) reolnam or hwalnam but now use beteunam (Kor)

China has many aliases: What did ancient Chinese people call their country? And fun fact: two of these aliases are used in Japan: 九州 (Kyūshū) and 中國 (Chūgoku).
Choseon/Joseon (朝鮮) has been the name of Korea for the longest time, and is still used by the DPRK (North Korea) to refer to itself (北朝鮮) and its estranged bro (南朝鮮), but South Korea prefers “state of the Han” 韓國 and refers to the North as 北韓 and itself as 南韓. China, Japan, and Vietnam simply call the DPRK 朝鮮 and ROK 韓國, in their own readings.

Vietnam as also called Nam Viet (南越) a long time ago (1000s of years), which is also the short form for South Vietnam (which was defeated in the Vietnam War and absorbed by the Vietnam that’s around today). Not too long ago (100s of years), Vietnam was also called Annam 安南 which means “peaceful south” (no wars yay) or “pacified south” (subjugated as a vassal to the Chinese Empire)… ambiguity is intentional, so everyone wins. Some Vietnamese-Chinese still use Annam in casual conversation. There is a phở shop named Annam in Hong Kong.

<My Notes: Abbreviations {Mando = Mandarin; Canto = Cantonese; Jap = Japanese; Kor = Korean; Viet = Vietnamese}

phở (เฝอ) : noodle soup (in vietnamese); 泰国 (taiguo) = Thailand >

Why was I intrigued?

As a non-Chinese speaker/reader/writer (in short a Chinese-illiterate), I can see how "iconic" Chinese characters are. But I cannot see how to read a Chinese characters apart from memorizing each character with its sound (or pronunciation). A friend told me that Chinese characters are also 'built up' from 'basic iconic strokes' but not basic sounds (like in English B A R --> bar or Thai ก แ ้ --> แก้).

Can anyone help me here? Please?

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