Does anyone know why there is a character that is common to both the Koreans and the Vietnamese?

Are there any other examples of these kind of similarity?

  • 1
    Half Korean-Vietnamese is called "KorViet". Jan 7, 2017 at 6:10

1 Answer 1


Nán (南) is "south" in Chinese.

Addendum: the Middle Chinese form assumed by Sagert & Baxter is nom. The reconstructions from their book are available here.

  • 2
    nan2 is 'south' in Mandarin, but it doesn't explain the /n/ final. The best explanation is that Vietnamese and Korean both borrowed 南 from Middle Chinese, which had a /m/ final.
    – jogloran
    Jan 3, 2015 at 1:00
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    Thanks: I assumed it was originally *m but didn't know the Middle Chinese form
    – user6726
    Jan 3, 2015 at 1:40
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    This was basically the same answer I was going to post but it might be more helpful to future users if you edit your answer to make it clear that both Vietnamese and Korean borrowed the word for "south" from some Chinese dialect, and that we know this becuase both languages use/used Chinese characters in some capacity. Maybe provide the Chinese character versions of each name.
    – acattle
    Jan 3, 2015 at 2:38
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    Most of the Chinese vocabulary in Vietnamese was borrowed from Middle Chinese during the Tang period, but a smaller number of words were borrowed already from Old Chinese in the early Han period.
    – fdb
    Jan 3, 2015 at 10:09
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    @acattle. Most of the Chinese vocabulary in Vietnamese (and, I believe, in Japanese and Korean) is not borrowed from "some Chinese dialect" but from the bureaucratic koine of the Tang empire, as reflected in the rhyme dictionaries. The borrowing did not take place at a spoken level but at the level of official scholarly writing.
    – fdb
    Jan 5, 2015 at 9:22

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