麒麟

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Chinese[edit]

male unicorn female unicorn
trad. (麒麟)
simp. #(麒麟)
alternative forms 騏驎 obsolete
麒麐麒麟 obsolete
Wikipedia has articles on:
麒麟 (qilin)

Etymology[edit]

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Qilin was a propitious beast in ancient Chinese mythology, with the shape of a deer, tail of an ox, a single horn and scales all over its body. Old Chinese pronunciation for this word was *g(ɯ)-rin (Zhengzhang), and in pre-Qin times the beast was also referred to as

  • (OC *rin),
  • (OC *m·rin, *m·rins),
  • 𪊓, or
  • (OC *peds),

the last two having been attested in the oracle bone script already. This is much debate as to what animal the qilin beast was; some maintain that the qilin was a beast only found in mythology, even though it may have been based on some animal in pre-historic times, and some argue that the qilin was in reality the river deer, the ox or cow, or the Indian rhinoceros (Wang, 2009).

During the SongMing Dynasties, the giraffe was introduced to China, either by envoys from other Asian or African countries, or through Zheng He who commanded multiple expeditionary voyages to Asia and Africa (Zhang, 2007). Besides using the transcription 祖剌法 (zǔlàfǎ) (from Arabic زُرَافَة(zurāfa, giraffe)) to name the animal, the Chinese also referred to it as qilin, believing it was the prototype of the mythological beast qilin. Such association may be due to the phonological similarity of the words for “giraffe” in North African languages, to the pronunciation of 麒麟 at the time (i.e. a phono-semantic matching) (Zhang, 2007). Compare:

Somali geri (giraffe), Sango kôlo, Amharic ቀጭኔ (ḳäč̣ne), Kazakh керік (kerık), Mursi kirin[1] and Arabic زَرَافَة(zarāfa), زُرَافَة(zurāfa) (whence English giraffe).

The “giraffe” sense of 麒麟 is obsolete in most varieties of modern Chinese, but is preserved in the Sinoxenic loanwords in Japanese (()(りん) (kirin)) and Korean (기린). In modern Vietnamese (kì lân), this word refers to the beast qilin, as well as the western mythological beast unicorn.

Janhunen (2011) tentatively compares 麒麟 (OC *ɡɯ rin) to a Northeast Asian etymon *kalimV, which denotes either "whale" or "mammoth"; however, he cautiously remarks that "[t]he formal and semantic similarity between *kilin < *gilin ~ *gïlin 'unicorn' and *kalimV 'whale' (but also Samoyedic *kalay- 'mammoth') is sufficient to support, though perhaps not confirm, the hypothesis of an etymological connection". He also notes a possible connection between Old Chinese and Mongolian (*)kers ~ (*)keris ~ (*)kiris "rhinoceros" (> Khalkha Mongolian хирс (hirs)).

Pronunciation[edit]



Rime
Character
Reading # 1/1 1/1
Initial () (30) (37)
Final () (19) (43)
Tone (調) Level (Ø) Level (Ø)
Openness (開合) Open Open
Division () III III
Fanqie
Reconstructions
Zhengzhang
Shangfang
/ɡɨ/ /liɪn/
Pan
Wuyun
/ɡɨ/ /lin/
Shao
Rongfen
/ɡie/ /ljen/
Edwin
Pulleyblank
/gɨ/ /lin/
Li
Rong
/ɡiə/ /liĕn/
Wang
Li
/ɡĭə/ /lĭĕn/
Bernard
Karlgren
/gi/ /li̯ĕn/
Expected
Mandarin
Reflex
lín
Expected
Cantonese
Reflex
kei4 lan4
Zhengzhang system (2003)
Character
Reading # 1/1 1/1
No. 9956 8201
Phonetic
component
Rime
group
Rime
subdivision
0 1
Corresponding
MC rime
Old
Chinese
/*ɡɯ/ /*rin/

Noun[edit]

麒麟

  1. (Chinese mythology) qilin (propitious mythological beast) (Classifier: m c mn)
  2. (figuratively, literary) outstanding person; man of ability
  3. (literary or Taiwanese Hokkien) giraffe (ruminant of the genus Giraffa) (Classifier: mn)

Synonyms[edit]

  • (outstanding person):
edit
  • (giraffe):

Derived terms[edit]

Descendants[edit]

Sino-Xenic (麒麟):
  • Japanese: ()(りん) (kirin)
  • Korean: 기린 (麒麟, girin)
  • Vietnamese: kì lân (麒麟)

Others:

Proper noun[edit]

麒麟

  1. () Qilin District (district in Qujing, Yunnan province, China)
  2. () Qilin (a town in Zongyang, Tongling, Anhui, China)

References[edit]

  1. ^ David Turton, Mozes Yigezu, Oilsarali Olibui, Mursi-English-Amharic Dictionary, 2009

Japanese[edit]

Kanji in this term

Jinmeiyō
りん
Jinmeiyō
kan’on on’yomi
Alternative spellings
騏驎 (general use)
キリン (giraffe, beer)
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 麒麟 (mythology) on Japanese Wikipedia
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 Qilin on Wikipedia
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 キリン (giraffe) on Japanese Wikipedia
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 Giraffe on Wikipedia

Etymology[edit]

From Old Japanese, in turn from Middle Chinese 麒麟 (MC ɡɨ liɪn). First cited in Japanese to the Nihon Shoki of 720.[1]

The giraffe sense was probably based on a superficial resemblance between certain depictions of the mythical beast and the patterning and body shape of the real animal: a tailed, hoofed, and horned quadruped with a vaguely leopard-like spot pattern. First cited in Japanese to a text from 1798.[1]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

()(りん) (kirin

  1. [from 720] 麒麟, 騏驎: (mythology, Chinese mythology) a qilin
    • 2010 May 23, Aoyama, Gosho, “FILE(ファイル).() (せい)(りゅう) [FILE 5: Azure Dragon]”, in (めい)(たん)(てい)コナン [Legendary Detective Conan], volume 68 (fiction), Tokyo: Shogakukan, →ISBN:
      それは(どう)(ぶつ)のキリン!(もん)(だい)()(りん)は…(ぜん)(しん)()(いろ)(うろこ)(おお)われていて、姿(すがた)鹿(しか)(うし)()(うま)(ひづめ)()ち、(りゅう)()(あたま)から(いっ)(ぽん)(つの)()えてる…(ちゅう)(ごく)(でん)(せつ)(じょう)(しん)(じゅう)だよ!
      Sore wa dōbutsu no kirin! Mondai no kirin wa… Zenshin ga kiiroi uroko de ōwarete ite, sugata wa shika, ushi no o to uma no hizume o mochi, ryū ni nita atama kara ippon tsuno ga haete ru… Chūgoku no densetsu jō no shinjū da yo!
      That’s giraffe(kirin) the animal! The qilin(kirin) we’re talking about… has a deer-like body covered in golden scales, with a cow’s tail and a horse’s hooves, and with a single horn growing from its dragonish head… It’s a mythical beast from Chinese legends!
  2. [date unknown] 麒麟, 騏驎: (shogi) the kirin, a piece in chūshōgi and larger shogi variants
  3. [from 1798] 麒麟, 騏驎, キリン: a giraffe (mammal)
    Synonym: ジラフ (jirafu)
    • 2010 May 23, Aoyama, Gosho, “FILE(ファイル).() (せい)(りゅう) [FILE 5: Azure Dragon]”, in (めい)(たん)(てい)コナン [Legendary Detective Conan], volume 68 (fiction), Tokyo: Shogakukan, →ISBN:
      それは(どう)(ぶつ)キリン(もん)(だい)()(りん)は…(ぜん)(しん)()(いろ)(うろこ)(おお)われていて、姿(すがた)鹿(しか)(うし)()(うま)(ひづめ)()ち、(りゅう)()(あたま)から(いっ)(ぽん)(つの)()えてる…(ちゅう)(ごく)(でん)(せつ)(じょう)(しん)(じゅう)だよ!
      Sore wa dōbutsu no kirin! Mondai no kirin wa… Zenshin ga kiiroi uroko de ōwarete ite, sugata wa shika, ushi no o to uma no hizume o mochi, ryū ni nita atama kara ippon tsuno ga haete ru… Chūgoku no densetsu jō no shinjū da yo!
      That’s giraffe(kirin) the animal! The qilin(kirin) we’re talking about… has a deer-like body covered in golden scales, with a cow’s tail and a horse’s hooves, and with a single horn growing from its dragonish head… It’s a mythical beast from Chinese legends!

Usage notes[edit]

As with many terms that name organisms, this term is often spelled in katakana, especially in biological contexts (where katakana is customary), as キリン.

Derived terms[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 麒麟・騏驎”, in 日本国語大辞典 (Nihon Kokugo Daijiten, Nihon Kokugo Daijiten)[1] (in Japanese), 2nd edition, Tōkyō: Shogakukan, 2000, →ISBN
  2. ^ 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, →ISBN
  3. ^ 1998, NHK日本語発音アクセント辞典 (NHK Japanese Pronunciation Accent Dictionary) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: NHK, →ISBN
  4. ^ 1997, 新明解国語辞典 (Shin Meikai Kokugo Jiten), Fifth Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, →ISBN

Korean[edit]

Hanja in this term

Noun[edit]

麒麟 (girin or McCune-Reischauer: kirin or Yale: kilin) (hangeul 기린)

  1. Hanja form? of 기린 (giraffe; qilin).

Vietnamese[edit]

Hán tự in this term

Noun[edit]

麒麟

  1. chữ Hán form of kì lân (qilin).