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Andrew Main on Canon's Corporate Name Etymology

DC posted on 8-09-14 - As mentioned on the 4th, Katrinka's been volunteering for The Lighthouse Bali and is putting together a fundraiser, so we got a printer/scanner/copier (Canon - even cheaper than the US and ink cheaper too). Just translated a sticker on the side with help from Tuttle's Compact Indonesian Dictionary. It reads "Don't duplicate money" all around the edge and prominently in the center, Organization Fighting to Eliminate Counterfeit Money with a QR code. Darn. OK. Won't do.

Andrew Main responded:


Did you know that Canon's corporate name derives originally from that of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Kannon (観音 Guānyīn)?




I've been partial to Canon printers (and scanners) since the late 1980s, as nearly all the printers (laser and inkjet) Apple sold under their own name were actually rebranded Canon printers. When Apple quit selling printers ca. 1999 I moved to Canon and have been using them since; in my limited experience with other brands, I've found Canon to be, if not perfect, still the best of the common makes.


DC replied and asked for more on this, knowing Andrew would come forth with the goods.


AM: Yeah, I was kind of charmed when I learned this. They sort of seem to imply that Canon is not derived from Kanon (Kannon, Kwanon), but I'll bet it was originally changing it to a more English spelling for international use, then later adding the stuff about the meanings of "canon" in English (which would be kyo in Japanese, as in 易経 Yjīng [I Ching], Eki Kyo in Japanese). I note they use katakana in the Japanese name of the company (キヤノン株式会社, Kyanon kabushiki-gaisha) rather than the kanji 観音 thus distancing the company name from 観音 and even from Kwanon くわんおん by using katakana though the Wikipedia article on the company does state that the name derives from Kwanon/Kanon.

Also thought it was interesting, when I researched it, that the Japanese pronunciation and thus spelling in kana seems to have changed from the original Kwan-on くわんおん (roughly derived from the Chinese pronunciation of the characters Guanyin or Kwanyin) to Kan-non かんのん (doubling the n-sound in the middle, unlike the Chinese, where the second syllable begins with a vowel). (Kanzeon is the Japanese pronunciation of the full Chinese name 観世音 Guānshyīn.) Note I changed the name in my note below to Kwanon, to match the original Canon name, plus the later Kanon & Kannon, to show the connection to Canon.


Well, enough of that; I enjoy this kind of research as you know.


DC - And I appreciate it too.