Loan words

Mandarin uses many “loan words” from English to represent new objects and concepts from the west.  

The Chinese characters in most loan words represent the phonetic of the English words, the meaning of the characters are often unrelated. For example, the Chinese word for “salad”,  沙拉[shālā], consists of the character for “sand” [沙 / shā] and the character for “pulling” [拉 / lā].

Whilst most loan words are purely phonetics, Chinese people sometimes did try to show their wits in their character selection for loan words. Here are some examples:

 

1. Hacker               Chinese word: 黑客 [hēi kè]                        Character Meaning: Black Visitors

2. Vitamins           Chinese word: 维他命 [wéi tā mìng]         Character Meaning: Sustain His Life

3. Lottery              Chinese word: 乐透 [lè tòu ]                        Character Meaning: Happiness Indulged

 

 

Go Back to Mandarin A-Z