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Chinese words “exported” to English language these years

"Tuhao" (土豪, nouveau riche) and "Dama" (大妈, old woman) are expected to be included by the Oxford English Dictionary as its new words. According to related statistics, there have been over 200 words of Chinese origin in the Oxford English Dictionary. In fact, in our daily life, a number of Chinese loanwords have occupied a spot in the English lexical system and become an indispensable composition. 


Various Chinese loanwords


Many words like "ganbu" (cadre) and "guanxi" (relation) were listed formally in the Oxford English Dictionary; such words as "tofu" (bean curd), "Peking duck" (Beijing roast duck), and "chow mein" (fried noodles) have been used in the daily life of non-Chinese people; words like "cheng-guan" (urban law enforcer) and "dia" (affectedly sweet) have also been influential somewhat in English. 

ganbu(干部)、guanxi(关系)等词多年以前就正式进入了《牛津英语词典》;tofu(豆腐)、Peking duck(北京烤鸭)、chow mein(炒面)已进入了外国人的日常生活用语;cheng-guan(城管)、dia(嗲)等词也在英语中产生了一定影响。

In fact, various Chinese loanwords have emerged continuously in English. There are words representing the Chinese history and culture, e.g. Confucius, Laozi, Tao, Tao Te Ching, feng shui, Mandarin and so on, which have been part of daily English lexis. Also, there are words involving the sports and recreations, including "kungfu" and "Tai Chi" which have become well known as a result of the spread of Chinese kungfu films. The political word "lianghui" (two sessions: the National People's Congress and the Chinese Political Consultative Conference) has been used gradually by the major media globally since it was first used by CNN. The Chinese currency units "jiao" and "yuan" have been absorbed into the English dictionaries. More interestingly, the word Yuan has been extended semantically to become the equivalent of "money".

实际上,英语中各类汉语借词不断涌现。代表中国历史文化的词语,如:Confucius(孔子)、Laozi(老子)、Tao(道/道教)、Tao Te Ching(《道德经》)、feng shui(风水)、Mandarin(官话)……这些词语已经进入到英语的日常词汇中。文体娱乐方面:"kongfu(功夫)、Tai Chi(太极)"等词更是随着中国功夫电影的传播而广为人知。政治经济方面:"lianghui(两会)"一词,是由美国有线电视新闻网(CNN)最早带头使用,渐渐地,这个词逐渐成为了各大

国际媒体的通用词汇;我国的货币单位jiao(角)和yuan(元)也已被收入英语词典,有趣的是, yuan这个词在英语中又经历了词义范围扩大的过程,现在,yuan还可以用来泛指钱(money)。

"Englishnization" of Chinese words


Anyhow, Chinese words have to undergo "English" reformation before they enter the English lexical system. The reformation manners include transliterating, paraphrasing, transliterating plus paraphrasing and transliterating plus affixation. For example, the Chinese Pinyin "taikong" (outer space) has been combined with the Greek word "nauteēs" (navigator) to form the English word "taikonaut" (Chinese astronaut). The Chinglish phrase "long time no see" that was created through transliterating by overseas Chinese have become a common greeting word in Britain and the US. 

其实,汉语词语进入英语词汇系统,或多或少地都需要经过一定的"英化"改造。改造方式有音译、意译、音意合译和音译加词缀。例如,汉语拼音"太空"(taikong)和希腊词"nautēs"(航行者)组成英语单词taikonaut(太空人),主要用来指中国航天员,现已收录牛津词典中。而最先由海外华人创造的中式英语"long time no see"(好久不见),采用了直译的方式,如今这个词已经成了英美国家里不少人打招呼的常用语。

Also, universality and using frequency of a word will be taken into consideration before it is absorbed by a dictionary. If it is widely used by the media rather than simply appearing in a specific report, it will have a greater chance of being absorbed. In addition, before a Chinese word becomes an entry in an English dictionary, it will be taken into consideration whether its meaning can be perceived intuitively. For example, the meaning of "guanxi" and "hukou" (registered permanent residence) can be easily perceived. 


Nowadays, more and more buzzwords in Chinese are expected to be absorbed into English dictionaries. These words like "maotai" (a famous alcohol brand in China) and "Peking opera" are quite influential among people who speak Chinese as the mother tongue. After they are "exported", can they still keep so influential in English? Further observation is required. 

如今,越来越多的汉语流行词汇有望被收录在英语词典之中。像maotai(茅台)、Peking opera(京剧)……这些词语在母语为汉语的群体中有着相当的影响力,那么,它们"出口"后,在英语中也能有那么大的影响力吗?这还有待进一步的观察。

Chinese becomes the top source of new English words


According to the report by the Texas-based Global Language Monitor, the number of Chinese loanwords in English, with the portion from 5% to 20% of all language origins, always ranks first among all new words added into English since 1994. Payack, the president of Global Language Monitor said, "Surprisingly, with the rapid growth of Chinese economy, the international English has been more impacted by the Chinese language than English-speaking countries".

总部设在美国得克萨斯州的"全球语言监督机构" 发布报告称,自1994年以来加入英语的新词汇中,"中文借用词"数量独占鳌头,以5%-20%的比例超过任何其他语言来源。该机构主席帕亚克表示:"令人惊讶的是,由于中国经济增长的影响,中文对国际英语的冲击比英语国家还大。"

Some Chinese loanwords absorbed into English dictionaries


Guanxi 关系

Taikonaut  中国宇航员

Goji 枸杞 (the fruit of Chinese wolfberry)

jiaozi 饺子 (dumplings)

Shaolin  少林寺

Qigong 气功

wushu  武术

potsticker 锅贴,煎饺 (fried dumplings)

Wing Chun  咏春拳

kung fu/ kong fu 功夫

Shanghainese 上海(人)的

Pinyin 拼音

Maotai 茅台

Renminbi 人民币

Cheongsam 旗袍

Chinglish  中国式英语

yuan hsiao 元宵 (sweet dumplings)

Peking duck 北京烤鸭

yangko 秧歌 (a popular rural folk dance)

Putonghua  普通话

dimsum 点心

pao-tzu  包子 (steamed stuffed bun)

Maotai 茅台酒

Ganbei 干杯 (cheers)

tsu 字 (character)

Wen-yen 文言 (classical Chinese)

wonton 馄饨

pai-hua 白话文 (vernacular Chinese)

The article is translated and editted by Chinlingo. Please indicate the source for any use, reproduction or transfer. 



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