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The Surprising List Of 15 Common English Phrases Of Chinese Origin

The Surprising List Of 15 Common English Phrases Of Chinese Origin

English words from Chinese words are often denoted as being ‘loanwords.’ A loanword is one that does not share a literal translation of the word. Rather the word is based on the adopted language. Quite simply, the word is borrowed and then co-opted into the new language. Words, such as, bok choy or brain wash are referred to as a calque, because the meaning is the same in both Chinese and English.

1. Gung Ho 长庚何

Pronounced gōng hé in Mandarin. The literal translation is,”work together.” The English use was popularized by Marines fighting in the Pacific in World War II. The phrase came to mean: “whole heartedly enthusiastic, and loyal, eager, and zealous.”

2. Typhoon 台风

Pronounced dàfēng in Mandarin and tai fung in Cantonese. The literal translation is “strong wind.”  Experts say the term, typhon from the Greek and Arabic, was strengthened with the Chinese translation.

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3. Chopsticks 筷子

British sailors are said to have first used this word in the late 17th century. The term derives from the word ‘kap kap’, which sounds like chop-chop to the English ear. The Chinese word literally means “fast.”

4. China 中国

In Chinese, the name is pronounced zhōng guó and literally means “the middle country.” The name was first used by the Italian explorer, Marco Polo.

5. Catsup (Ketchup) 番茄酱

Pronounced koechiap and literally means “brine of fish.” Originally, ketchup was a tomato based sauce for fish. Purportedly, introduced to England by William Ketchner.

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 6. Silk 丝绸

Pronounced si in Mandarin. The word was first introduced to Western culture by smugglers who took silk worms and mulberry leaves out of China in 552 Common Era (CE).

7. Feng Shui 风水

Literally wind and water. It is the Chinese belief in creating a spiritual balance in one’s home and workplace. The word was first introduced to Westerners in 1757.

8. J-Particle J 粒子

A subatomic particle discovered by Samuel C. C. Ting. The letter J resembles the Chinese symbol of Ting’s last name.

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9. Kowtow 磕头

Literally means “knock head.” Pronounced e k’o-t’ou in Chinese. In China the word is a way of bowing and touching the forehead to the ground to indicate respect. In English the word means to “be servile: to behave in an extremely submissive way in order to please somebody in a position of authority.”

10. Junk 垃圾

The literal translation in Chinese is “boat.” In 1884 the term came to mean “old refuse from boats and ships,” and eventually came to mean trash in Western culture.

11. Lose Face 丢了面子

The literal translation is “humiliation” and is pronounced tu lien in Chinese. The word is said to have been introduced to English speakers in 1876.

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12. Shanghai 上海

Shanghai is a Chinese seaport. The word in English came to mean, “to drug a man unconscious and ship him as a sailor.” This was the practice of ‘recruiting’ sailors to the seaport of Shanghai.

13. Tai Chi 太极

In Chinese, the word is literally translated to the “supreme ultimate.” It is now used in American lingo to describe the martial art of tai chi. Some emphasize the slow movements as a form of exercise, while others practice it as a martial art.

14. Oolong 乌龙茶

Literally “black dragon.” First introduced to the English language in 1852 as a dark, black tea.

15. Tea 茶

Pronounced chá in Chinese. Introduced to the English in 1852, from the Mandarin.

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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The leap happens when we realize two things:

  1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
  2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

“Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

More Tips About Building Positive Relationships

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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