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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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