1995 年 42 巻 4 号 p. 1-12
The place-name is essential to geographic studies. We geographic educators, however, are sometimes confused about teaching how foreign place-names should be called and transcribed, because it is not easy to call and transcribe them with a standard. In Japan some authorities tried to solve this problem after a modern school system had been established in the Meiji era. For instance, the Ministry of Education showed the standard of foreign place-names in the official gazette in 1902. After that The Shigaku-kai, NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) and Japan Textbook Research Center showed each guideline for foreign place-names, respectively. Moreover, several geographers and geographic educators contributed several articles of this issue to magazines. In this paper the author examine how the names of foreign countries have been called in 40 Japanese school atlases since the Meiji Era, and investigate the consequence from the viewpoint of international understanding.
The author used school atlases for elementary level as to the prewar period, junior high school postwar period, respectively, because they are considered to be important in Japanese national education. After examining the names of foreign countries according to the date, the author could type the consequence of calling and transcribing them as follows.
1) countries which have been called and transcribed in a language different from both English and theirs......India, Greece, The Netherlands etc.
2) countries which have been called and transcribed in English (excluding English countries)......Argentina, Austria, Egypt, Finland Hungary, Norway, Poland, Sweden etc.
3) countries which have been called and transcribed temporarily in their own language, but mainly in English......Spain etc.
4) countries which have been called and transcribed at first in English then in their own language......Germany, Italy etc.
5) countries which have been called and transcribed in their language......English countries, Portugal, Thailand, countries which got independence after the Second World War etc.
Calling and transcribing the names of foreign countries in English was very common in the early Meiji Era because they could get information from English literature. Some coutries began to be called and transcribed in their own language since the mid-Meiji Era, and the guidelines showed such a trend about some countries. However, all guidelines adopted a principle to call former names as far as they were in common use, therefore calling and transcribing in English remains common.
It is possible to teach cross-culture by using foreign place-names for international understanding. Particularly the name of a country, which is her symbol and reveals her history and culture, is very significant. Now that Japanese are considered to need more international understanding, the names of foreign countries should be called and transcribed in their own language. The change of calling and transcribing is very difficult though, because of its influence on the social area beyond the school.