Neha Patil (Editor)

List of loanwords in Chinese

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Loanwords have entered written and spoken Chinese from many sources, including ancient peoples whose descendants now speak Chinese. In addition to phonetic differences, varieties of Chinese such as Cantonese and Shanghainese often have distinct words and phrases left from their original languages which they continue to use in daily life and sometimes even in Mandarin. Similarly, northern dialects include relatively greater numbers of loanwords from nearby languages such as Mongolian and Manchu.

Throughout China, Buddhism has also introduced words from Sanskrit and Pali. More recently, foreign invasion and trade since the First and Second Opium Wars of the mid-nineteenth century has led to prolonged contact with English, French, and Japanese. Although politically-minded language reform under the Republic and People's Republic of China have generally preferred to use calques and neologisms in place of loanwords, a growing number – particularly from American English – have become current in modern Chinese. On the mainland, transcription into Chinese characters in official media and publications is directed by the Proper Names and Translation Service of the Xinhua News Agency and its reference work Names of the World's Peoples.

Foreign businesses and products are usually free to choose their own transliterations and typically select ones with positive connotations and phonetic similarity to their products: for example, 宜家 (IKEA) is "proper home". Owing to antonomasia and genericization, these can then enter general Chinese usage: for example Coca-Cola's 可口可乐 ("delicious fun") has led to 可乐 becoming the common Chinese noun for all sodas.

English

Chinese words of English origin have become more common in mainland China during its reform and opening and resultant increased contact with the West. Note that some of the words below originated in other languages but may have arrived in Chinese via English (for example "pizza/披萨" from Italian). English acronyms are sometimes borrowed into Chinese without any transcription into Chinese characters; for example "IT" (information technology), "GDP" (Gross domestic product), or "DVD". A rarer occurrence is the blending of the Latin alphabet with Chinese characters, as in "IP卡" ("internet phone card").

References

List of loanwords in Chinese Wikipedia


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