ch'ilin, qilin, kirin, girin, kylan

Randy Alexander strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jun 23 20:04:24 UTC 2014

On Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 10:31 AM, W Brewer <brewerwa at> wrote:

> Qilin/ch'ilin/kirin <unicorn-giraffe> not to be confused with the
> homophonous province in northeast PRC, Jilin [GEE-LEAN] <Lucky Forest>
> (Wade-Giles Chi2-lin2, postal code Kirin). Which I had always done till
> now.

Yes, the city name comes from the Manchu word for "along" (girin), having
originally been "along the river" (girin ula).  Of course there's some
phonetic change going from girin to jilin.  The "Lucky Forest" (or
"Luckwood" if you wanted it to sound more like a place name) is what you
get when you extract meaning from the Chinese characters that were used to
transliterate the Manchu, but although characters with positive (or at
least neutral) meanings are usually chosen for transliteration, there is
not supposed to be any meaning associated with them.

Of course it would have been much more badass if the city name reflected
the animal, but oh well.

The county, prefecture, and province share the name, but they were named
after the city.
Randy Alexander
Manchu studies:
Language in China (group blog):

The American Dialect Society -

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