Loan Words In Mandarin Chinese

As Chinese people’s daily lives are now greatly influenced by western culture, loan words that are closely related to western people’s lifestyle are getting more and more popular in China. What’s important about loan words in the Chinese language is that their meanings cannot be explained character by character, which means there is no logic behind them. The purpose of this article is to provide you with a general idea about some of the commonly-used loan words in Mandarin Chinese. Let’s get started!

Food and Drink Loan Words in Mandarin Chinese

咖啡 (kā fēi)

Judging by its pronunciation, it can be easily deduced that the meaning of this word is “coffee”. When it comes to western food and drinks, there are quite a few loan words that have penetrated into our daily lives. Apart from咖啡 (kā fēi), some other popular loan words related to food and drinks are:

披萨
pī sà
Pizza

三明治
sān míng zhì
sandwich

沙拉
shā lā
salad

汉堡
hàn bǎo
burger

巧克力
qiǎo kè lì
chocolate

芒果
máng guǒ
mango

柠檬
níng méng
lemon

可乐
kě lè
coke

苏打水
sū dǎ shuǐ
soda water

Example:

我的妹妹喜欢喝咖啡
wǒ de mèi mèi xǐ huān hē kā fēi
My younger sister likes drinking coffee.

沙发 (shā fā)

The word沙发 (shā fā) means sofa, which was something considered luxurious in China back in the 1980s. As has been mentioned above, an important feature of loan words in Chinese is that they cannot be analyzed character by character. The character “沙 (shā)” in “沙发 (shā fā)” means “sand”, which has nothing to do with the meaning of the word.

Example:

昨天我买了一个新沙发
zuó tiān wǒ mǎi le yī gè xīn shā fā
I bought a new sofa yesterday.

幽默 (yōu mò)

It’s a bit hard to guess the meaning of this word purely based on how it’s pronounced. Well, the English equivalent of this word is actually “humor/humorous”, whose pronunciation is more or less similar to “幽默 (yōu mò)”. Generally speaking, Chinese people are considered to be quite serious and conservative, and that’s why people with a good sense of humor are often very popular among their peers.

Example:

他既幽默又友好
tā jì yōu mò yòu yǒu hǎo
He is humorous and friendly.

Vocabulary:

既…..又…..
jì….. yòu…..
both……and……

友好
yǒu hǎo
Friendly

以为 To think (wrongly) | Chinese Words With Similar Pronunciation

逻辑 (luó jì)

The English equivalent of “逻辑 (luó jì)” is logic. Nowadays this word can often be heard when it comes to school education as teachers in China have realized that in addition to rote learning, it’s also very important to help students improve their logical thinking.

Example:

他说的话没有逻辑
tā shuō de huà méi yǒu luó jì
There is no logic in what he said.

扑克 (pū kè)

When Chinese people are asked how they spend their leisure time, one of the most common answers they might give is playing on their phones. However, imagine we are talking about a world without smartphones or the internet, “扑克 (pū kè)”, meaning poker, would certainly be Chinese people’s first choice for them to kill time. Even now it’s still one of the favorite things Chinese people do when having a get-together.

Example:

星期六我们准备玩扑克
xīng qī liù wǒ men zhǔn bèi wán pū kè
We are going to play poker on Saturday.

Vocabulary:

准备
zhǔn bèi
To prepare/intend to do something

We hope you enjoyed learning about loan words in Mandarin Chinese! If you are in the learning mood, check out Mandarin Chinese words that may cause confusion below!

https://www.thatsmandarin.com/blog/chinese-words-that-may-cause-confusion/

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