Thursday, March 11, 2010

English Words That Came From Chinese

I think I was most surprised about the words tycoon and ketchup.

A direct translation from Chinese 洗脑 xǐ nǎo (where 洗 literally means "wash", while 脑 means "brain", hence brainwash), a term and psychological concept first used by the People's Volunteer Army during the Korean War. It may refer to a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas; or persuasion by propaganda or salesmanship. The term "brainwashing" came into the mainstream English language after Western media sources first utilized the term to describe the attitudes of POWs returning from the Korean War.

Chop chop 
from Cantonese chuk chuk 速速, lit. hurry, urgent

from Chinese Pidgin English chowchow which means food, perhaps based on Cantonese 炒, lit. stir fry (cooking)

Chow mein 
from Taishanese 炒麵 (chau meing), lit. stir fried noodle, when the first Chinese immigrants, from Taishan came to the United States.

There are a few theories on were the word Ketchup and Catsup come from one is that the word derives from one of two words from the Fujian region of coastal southern China: "kôe-chiap" (in the Xiamen accent) or "kê-chiap" (in theZhangzhou accent). Both of these words come from the Amoy dialect of China, where it meant the brine of pickled fish or shellfish.[11] The Chinese characters representing the word kôe-chiap are disputed, with two primary theories as to the word's original Chinese orthography.

Eggplant sauce
The first theory[12] states that the word "ketchup" derives from a Chinese word composed of two characters (茄汁), which means "eggplant sauce". The first character (茄), meaning "eggplant," is also the root for the word "tomato" (番茄 in Mandarin and Cantonese or 紅毛茄 in Taiwanese), though at the time tomatoes were unknown in China. The second character (汁) means "juice" or "sauce." Pronunciations of this word vary by region, but their similarities to the English "ketchup" can be noticed. This theory seems the most valid to man y because other theories seem to be connected to this theory with eggplant sauce being one of the ancestors of tomato ketchup worldwide.

from the Amoy dialect for tea 茶, which is pronounced "tey".

via Japanese 大官, lit. high official; or 大君, lit. great nobleman

colloquial English word for 'tea', originally from Chinese 茶 (Mandarin chá).