U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > World Forums > Asia
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
 
Old 05-13-2013, 10:42 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,455,894 times
Reputation: 11862

Advertisements

I've been trying to find statistics on the percentage of loanwords from Chinese in various Asian languages, specifically those from East and South-East Asia, but haven't really been able to find much aside from Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese, which contain about 50-60% Chinese loanwords in their vocabulary. That's similar to the percentage of French words in English but of course, neither of those three languages are related to Chinese.

I'm especially curious about Thai. Anyone familiar with Thai and Chinese willing to give a rough estimate? I'm sure it's somewhat sizeable, perhaps at least 20-25%, since some of the numbers are the same. Thai also contains vocab from Sanskrit.

What about say, Lao (very similar to Thai), Burmese, Tibetan (related languages), Mongolian? I also heard Manchu borrowed quite a few words from Chinese prior to the Qing.

I'm actually rather surprised at how heavily Japanese borrowed from Chinese considering the two were relatively isolated from each other.

 
Old 05-13-2013, 11:13 PM
 
6,730 posts, read 6,619,367 times
Reputation: 2386
Now all the non-Chinese languages in China heavily borrow from Chinese.
In the past, languages in northwestern China were relatively isolated from Chinese, but the others have been influenced by Chinese for a very long time.

An interesting case is Lingao (Ong Be) language (临高话) in Hainan. Local people consider themselves Han Chinese but their language is not really Chinese, instead it is a Tai-Kadai language.
 
Old 05-13-2013, 11:20 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,455,894 times
Reputation: 11862
Interesting. It's interesting one can consider themselves Han Chinese if they do not speak a Sinitic language. I wonder if I myself can meaningfully call myself Chinese because of this reason.

Thai used to be considered Sino-Tibetan, I know, so it must be at least distantly related to the Sinitic languages.
 
Old 05-13-2013, 11:30 PM
 
6,730 posts, read 6,619,367 times
Reputation: 2386
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
Interesting. It's interesting one can consider themselves Han Chinese if they do not speak a Sinitic language. I wonder if I myself can meaningfully call myself Chinese because of this reason.

Thai used to be considered Sino-Tibetan, I know, so it must be at least distantly related to the Sinitic languages.
That language has too many Chinese loanwords and is partly intelligible to Han Chinese in that region. The grammar is different though.
 
Old 05-14-2013, 01:06 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,455,894 times
Reputation: 11862
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bettafish View Post
That language has too many Chinese loanwords and is partly intelligible to Han Chinese in that region. The grammar is different though.
What about the Li ethnic minority of central and southern Hainan? They too speak a Tai-Kadai language. Genetically they are similar to people from Guangxi and Guanzhou I believe. I think most of the ethnic minorities in Southern China are people who were not fully assimilated as Han.
 
Old 05-14-2013, 03:16 AM
 
1,099 posts, read 1,672,990 times
Reputation: 971
I've tried learning Thai for a few weeks before, but decided not to pursue it further. It's really difficult to compare with Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese. In the latter three languages, they are not related to Chinese and what is mostly borrowed from Chinese are the more "technical" terms, while the basic vocabulary is often unique. Although Japanese borrowed the Chinese number pronunciation, the older native pronunciations are still in use alongside the borrowed ones. In comparison to Thai, it seems that there are more cognates with Chinese in the basic vocabulary but less so in the more "technical" terms. This seems to have a bit of similarity with the English-German and English-Latin relationship. Basic vocabulary of English is Germanic and one can immediately identify cognates between English and German in numbers or other basic terms. When I learned Thai, there are some words that are immediately recognizable as similar to Chinese, but definitely less compared to English-German. Such basic words as numbers and the words for cat, horse, chicken and elephant sound similar to Chinese. In terms of linguistics, that probably means that the two languages are related or the borrowing of words was done very early among neighboring tribes. Since linguists now separate Sino-Tibetan and Tai-Kadai as separate language families, they are probably more in the belief that there was early borrowing of words rather than Thai having a common ancestor with Chinese. I also find it noticeable that there are a lot of cognates in basic vocabulary, there are a lot more basic words that just seem unrelated. By comparison, while studying German, it's very obvious that English and German share common origins. Also, it's difficult to say who borrowed from whom when the borrowing took place long time ago or from a very distant ancestor language in the past. More technical terms in Thai are often derived from Pali (indirectly from Sanskrit). I can be wrong, but it seems that there is less than 10% Thai vocabulary that can be immediately identified as Chinese cognates from the few Thai words/phrases I've learned.
 
Old 05-14-2013, 04:04 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,455,894 times
Reputation: 11862
Thanks GoldenTiger, very informative. Wow you sound like quite a polyglot, how many languages do you speak? You have a unique perspective on the relatedness of Tai and Chinese and English and German. I'm surprised it's only 10% or less, as Thai sounds closer to some Chinese dialects/languages than Japanese. In fact I'd say Thai sounds closer to say Cantonese than Vietnamese does but Vietnamese sounds has more words in common.

I'd be interested to learn more about the genesis of the Chinese languages. I always assumed the linguistic birthplace of 'Chinese', Old Chinese, would be where the original Han Chinese came from in central-western China. There's a cline connecting them to Tibetan languages, Qiang, Burmese, Shan, Karen. Tai-Kadai came from a bit further southeast.
 
Old 05-15-2013, 03:39 AM
 
1,099 posts, read 1,672,990 times
Reputation: 971
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
Thanks GoldenTiger, very informative. Wow you sound like quite a polyglot, how many languages do you speak? You have a unique perspective on the relatedness of Tai and Chinese and English and German. I'm surprised it's only 10% or less, as Thai sounds closer to some Chinese dialects/languages than Japanese. In fact I'd say Thai sounds closer to say Cantonese than Vietnamese does but Vietnamese sounds has more words in common.

I'd be interested to learn more about the genesis of the Chinese languages. I always assumed the linguistic birthplace of 'Chinese', Old Chinese, would be where the original Han Chinese came from in central-western China. There's a cline connecting them to Tibetan languages, Qiang, Burmese, Shan, Karen. Tai-Kadai came from a bit further southeast.
The Central Plains (Zhongyuan) is considered the cradle of Chinese civilization, which centers mostly on modern-day Henan and also includes Xi'an to the west and western Shandong (the birthplace of Confucius) to the east. All these areas now speak Mandarin with different accents. Not sure if the Chinese language originated here, but it surely was the most influential area for thousands of years. Xi'an and Luoyang were the ancient capitals and the Confucian Classics are among the most read Chinese literature. However, the modern day languages/dialects around this area may not be the most similar to Old Chinese or Middle Chinese. Literary Chinese (or Wenyanwen) was no longer the same as the spoken vernacular for hundreds or even thousands of years, but remained the primary written language and literary language of China until the early 1900s. Since Chinese does not have a phonetic writing system and all these Chinese languages actually evolved over time, there are fewer clues to what the original language sounded like. Korean and Japanese mostly borrowed from Middle Chinese (the language of the Tang dynasty, with its capital in Xi'an). There are also many Tang dynasty poems and it was also the time when Buddhist texts were being translated to Chinese. If you read the Tang dynasty poems nowadays, they actually rhyme and sound better using the Southern Chinese languages such as Cantonese and Hokkien compared to Mandarin. Also, if you actually have some Buddhist texts and listen to the monks chant in the temples (they still use some archaic pronunciations), the pronunciations actually sound closest to Hokkien to me. Chinese loan words in Japanese also can seem to have more pronunciations that are close to Hokkien or Cantonese compared to the Mandarin pronunciations, which indicate that the Southern Chinese languages retained a number of features from Middle Chinese (Tang Chinese) that have changed in modern Mandarin.
 
Old 05-15-2013, 05:25 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,455,894 times
Reputation: 11862
I've heard that the Southern languages retain some features that Mandarin has lost. Mandarin is of course a result of localisation too, of course, so doesn't necessarily represent how Old or Middle Chinese sounded. It's an interesting topic, for sure.
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Closed Thread


Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > World Forums > Asia
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top