Japanese, general discussion on the language
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However, the above doesn't take into consideration Marco Polo's mention of Cipangu. Whatever the derivation route was, it's pretty clear that ultimately it's derived from a Chinese reading of 日本。The origin of the word "Japan" used in western languages is less clear. One theory holds that it came from the Portuguese "jipang", which in turn was an attempt to pronounce "Jihpenkuo", the name for Japan used in northern China. Another idea is that Dutch traders pronounced "Yatpun", the name used in southern China, as "Japan" (the 'j' being pronounced like a 'y').