Open Journal of Modern Linguistics
Vol.07 No.02(2017), Article ID:75504,15 pages

Chinese Borrowings in English, Chinese Cultural Identity and Economic Development

Chun Wang, Xueting Zhou, Jiansheng Chen

School of Foreign Studies, Changsha University of Science and Technology, Changsha, China

Copyright © 2017 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY 4.0).

Received: February 16, 2017; Accepted: April 17, 2017; Published: April 20, 2017


Since the 20th century, scholars abroad have achieved a lot on the studies of borrowings in English. However, studies on Chinese borrowings in English are hardly involved. Scholars at home almost researched on the English borrowings in Chinese. In the light of this phenomenon, an all-round analysis on the development of Chinese borrowings in English was undertaken. Chinese borrowings were first enrolled to English in the beginning of 17th century. However, from the beginning of 17th century to the beginning of 19th century, the policy of isolation with the outside world is advocated by Qing Dynasty. The communication between China and the outside world in politics, culture and economy is rare. There are just small numbers of trades involved in teas, food, textiles and so on in Hong of some coastal cities, such as Guangzhou. So the Chinese borrowings in English in this period are limited to food, teas and textiles. From the beginning of 19th century to the beginning of 20th century, the policy of isolation with the outside world has been implemented all the time by the Qing Dynasty. Consequently, there has hardly changed in the development of Chinese borrowings in English. Since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, Marxism and Maoism has been dominant in the whole New China as the spiritual profiles from the beginning of 20th century to the eve of Opening-up. Under the background of Red Revolution, the Chinese borrowings in English, to some extents, have increasingly developed. However, Chinese borrowings in English has been increasingly growing, especially after Opening-up, which is involved in wide fields with the improving communication in economy, politics and culture between China and the outside world. To some degrees, the increasingly strengthening influence of China on the world was reflected and the cultural soft power of China was improved. Meanwhile, some weaknesses have been pointed, which could strengthen the construction of spiritual civilization, create healthy environment for our Chinese culture introduced into world and improve the soft power of China on earth.


Chinese Borrowings, Chinese Cultural Identity, Economic Development

1. Introduction

In recent years, many Chinese hot words on the Internet have won the favor of netizens all over the world and have been recruited into several English dictionaries. “No zuo no die”, one of the ten most popular internet words on micro-blog, has been recruited into American online slang dictionary―Urban Dictionary, which drew netizens’ attention. Based on the analysis on Chinese borrowings in English, it is far critical for our country to promote Chinese culture into the world, conduct the work of teaching Chinese to foreigners and complement cultural communication with foreign countries.

Three researching methods, including searching literature view, citing examples and contrasting and analyzing, are carried out in this thesis. Plenty of materials by reading literatures of studying Chinese borrowings in English are collected after choosing the name of thesis. Next, Chinese borrowings in English by citing examples of different period to explore its influence on the world are analyzed. Meanwhile, results by comparing different Chinese borrowings in English are concluded.

The thesis developed chronologically is divided into four periods (before 19th century, 19th-20th century, 20th century to Reform and Opening-up, and after Reform and Opening-up) in which Chinese borrowings of various periods are illustrated and their reasons for a small number of Chinese borrowings in these periods will be analyzed. The ways of literature review, citing examples and contrasting different kinds of Chinese borrowings will be implemented to analyze their reasons for engendering these Chinese borrowings. It demonstrates that the stronger our country is, the more Chinese borrowings are recruited into English.

2. Chapter One

2.1. Literature Review

2.1.1. Study Abroad

More scholars abroad and at home have been engaging in studies of Chinese borrowings. Besides, many scholars at home have been studying the Chinese borrowings under the frame of linguistics.

1) Exploration of Borrowings in English

Cannon (1987) pointed that there has been already 979 English words introduced from Chinese. Cannon added that one of the most important standards is that one Chinese word must be committed by three in eight leading dictionaries if the word can be rolled into English, including Random House College Dictionary published in 1975, Funk and Wagnall Standard Desk Dictionary and Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language in 1980, Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English and American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language in 1982, Chambers 20th Century Dictionary and Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary in 1983 and Longman Dictionary of the English Language in 1984.

Analyses on Chinese borrowings in terms of their illustrations were rare except Cannon’s studies. An all-round study about borrowed items has been undertaken by Cannon (1988) , which is attributed to the basic construction of the corpus of Chinese borrowings. Cannon’s analyses of Chinese borrowings are involved in the language source, semantics of linguistics, language grammar and general viewpoints on the differences between Chinese borrowings and their interpretations.

However, he just focuses on the Chinese borrowed items without in-depth researches of more typical words that are recruited into various dictionaries and used frequently apart from other Chinese borrowings. Therefore there are much more details about Chinese borrowings left to be explored.

Based on the study of 196 loanwords which are all recruited into three in eight dictionaries standardized by Cannon, Moody’s study of Chinese loanwords in English has been much earlier. Rather than Cannon’s complete studies on Chinese loanwords, Moody (1996) emphasized the relevant linguistic transmissions and semantic fields where these borrowings create. Borrowings are rolled into semantic fields largely with regard to the source language of the borrowing. However, the fields of loanwords from a single language source can’t be resembled by their semantic fields successfully demonstrated by Moody.

Nevertheless, only 92 Chinese loanwords are maintained and more than half of the items are deleted from Cannon’s list by Moody in the end.

2) Exploration of Chinese Borrowings in English

Samuel J., & Bradwell, P. (2007) , a well-known British think-tank delivered a report―As You Like it: Catching up in an Age of Global English which committed Chinese borrowings in English were a part of international English families and the influence on the world would be enlarging. Samuel Jones and Peter Bradwell, the authors of the report, think that Britain should break the limit of conventional language rules and how English is used on the other places of the world should be instructed by the teachers. They add that English is not only a sole language but also a series of language.

Jeffrey Gil and Bob Adamson point that the influence of Chinese on English is exponentially improving and the relation between Chinese and English is strengthening in their thesis of The English Language in China: A Sociolinguistic Profile. Chinese borrowing come into the daily life of people and become an existence of social culture. Meanwhile, they analyze the various factors of impacting on the development of Chinese borrowings.

The globalization of economy is one of the most significant factors which are attributed to the growing interaction with the foreign countries. The languages communication between Chinese and English hence is enhancing. Next the study at home is illustrated in the following paragraphs. Meanwhile more domestic scholars are introduced to explore the Chinese borrowings in English.

2.1.2. Study at Home

Since the Reform and Opening-up of China, English has been put much emphasis on the economic development, especially in foreign business. As a result, more and more Chinese borrowings have been recruited into various English dictionaries.

1) Exploration of Borrowings in Chinese

Xinliang Zhang (2008) scientifically generalized the phonology, varieties and borrowing ways of Chinese borrowings in A Brief Analysis of Features of Chinese Borrowings. He has discussed the influences of these Chinese borrowings on traditional ideology and cultural psychology of other nations. He has found out the factors and ways of Chinese borrowings being prevalent which were analyzed and explained in terms of trans-cultural Communication and cognized linguistics. He pointed that Chinese borrowings were meaningful to the English instruction of China.

Chaolian Tu (2013) analyzed the linguistic features of Chinese borrowings. When Chinese words come into English, English intonation is used to replace the articulating way of Chinese in phonology in order to adapt the English pronouncing system. In grammar, inflectional function is received by constructing the new words through derivation, transformation and compound, which improves the function of Chinese borrowings. In semantics, the radiating changing way of language sense is abided by the majority of Chinese borrowings which experience the changing processes of expanding or shrinking and rising or falling.

Cai Yulong (2014) discussed the origins of some Chinese borrowings in English, including China and china. Through exploring the Chinese borrowings in English, we can clearly perceive the historic miniature of communication between Chinese and English.

2) Exploration of Chinese Borrowings in English

Tao Zeng (2008) illustrated the development of Chinese loanwords in English. The concept of Chinese borrowings was put forward within 30 years. However, the history of Chinese borrowings can be dated back to 17th century when people from Hong Kong and Macao used the Pidgin English to communicate with British business men.

Yong Fan (2012) found out 532 items of Chinese borrowings in relevant reports about China in New York Times in 2009-2010. Although the number is not small, the proportion is comparatively not enough, only two items in each article on average, comparing the corpus of 269 articles. If we compare these items with all the 1246 articles in the 2009-2010, the Rate Chinese items occur is smaller, 0.4 item in each article on average. Besides the majority of these items are used in the level of words and phrases and rarely in the complete sentences, let alone in the contexts.

Guanjie Jia (2013) declared that Chinese borrowings in English have changed a lot that the number of these words is increasing and more and more scholars abroad and at home are engaged in studying Chinese borrowings in English since last century.

However, scholars abroad have had great achievements on the studies of borrowings in English. However, Chinese borrowings in English are merely involved. Meanwhile, scholars at home only studied on the English borrowings in Chinese. Accordingly, an all-round analysis on the development of Chinese borrowings in English and its reasons will be studied later.

3. Chapter Two

3.1. Development of Chinese Borrowings in English

3.1.1. Chinese Borrowings in English before the 20th Century

Either cultural communication or military invention can contribute to the intercourse of languages. For instance, Norman invaded Britain which resulted in French dominant in the English in ancient times. However, china, one of the typical Chinese borrowings in English, is created when the relative countries on Silk Road interacted with each other. So every language possesses borrowings unavoidably. There are French, Japanese, and Germany and so on in English. Chinese borrowings no doubt exist in English.

1) Chinese Borrowings in English before the 19th Century

The bohea, pekoe, conqou, souchong belong to black tea with more stronger flavor than other teas. There are two principal varieties of the species. One is the small-leaved Chinese variety plant used for most other types of teas. Another is the large-leaved Assamese plant traditionally used for black tea. However, some green and white teas have been produced in recent years. Black tea is known as “red tea”, a description of the color of the liquid in Chinese speaking countries while “black tea” refers to the color of the oxidized leaves in the Western countries. Hyson is one kind of green teas made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis that have minimally oxidized during the producing process.

In Chinese, “black tea” is a commonly used classification for post-fermented teas, such as Pu-erh tea, in the outside of China and its neighboring countries. Bressett, Ken (2001) thought that “Red tea” more commonly refers to rooibos, a South African herbal tea. While green tea usually loses its flavor within a year, black tea retains its flavor for several years. For this reason, it has long been an article of trade, and compressed bricks of black tea even served as a form of defacto currency in Mongolia, Tibet and Siberia intothe19th century.

Although green tea has recently won revival prevalence with its purported health benefits, black tea still occupies over ninety percent of tea sells in the West. However, it’s controversial to assess the beneficial health effects of green tea consumption. Whether excessive consumption is associated with some harmful health effects is under scientific investigation.

Gaolin belongs to minerals, one sort of Chinese natural resource which is typical in China. The rest of items are related to the social culture of China. Some are greeting words, like chinchin before the 19th century.

Ginseng and galingale are two different Chinese medicines while litchi, loquat, ketchup and wamgee are fruit and food. They were introduced to the western before the 20th century. Farlex (2012) studied that Silk and pongee belong to the textiles. Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The protein fiber of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and is produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoons. The cocoons of the larvae reared in captivity are one of best row silk sources. The shimmering appearance of silk produces various colors allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles due to the triangular prism-like structure of the silk fiber.

Sutherland TD (2010) analyzed that Silks are produced by several other insects, but generally only the silk of moth caterpillars has been used for textile manufacturing. There has been some research into other silks, which differ at the molecular level. Walker AA emphasized that Many silks are mainly produced by the larvae of insects undergoing complete metamorphosis, but some adult insects such as web spinners produce silk, and some insects such as raspy crickets produce silk throughout their lives.

2) Chinese Borrowings in English between the 19th and 20th Century

Zhongmao Chun (1991) discussed that Oolong is a traditional Chinese tea produced through a unique process including withering the plant under the strong sun and oxidation before curling and twisting. Haigen Shi (2007) thought that most oolong teas, especially those of fine quality, involve unique tea plant cultivars that are exclusively used for particular varieties. The degree of oxidation can range from 8% - 85%, depending on the variety and production style. Joseph Needleham (2005) added that oolong is especially popular with tea connoisseurs of south China and Chinese expatriates in Southeast Asia, as is the Fujian preparation process known as the Gongfu tea ceremony.

Whange is one kind of plants, which is typical in China. The rest of borrowings are related to the social culture of China. Some are polite words, like chinchin before the 19th century and kowtow produced in the period. Kowtow is one of the feudal greeting way. The ordinary people are ordered to show kowtow to the emperor, which is one backward and decayed etiquette and is forbidden nowadays.

Kylin is a lucky invisible animal and sycee is the traditional currency of ancient China. Hong is the conventional business place in the coastal of China, especially in the past Guang Zhou while tong is an organization or underworld gang in which relevant activities are undertook for their sake. Gamen, Japan are pidgin English which are misunderstood when people do business with foreigners in the past.

From 16th century to the beginning of 20th century, Britain expanded its territory and invaded around the world. It is the biggest colonial nation and its colony spreads all over the world. The colonial expand of Britain has had an in-depth influence on the evolution of the modern history and geographic politics of the world. After the two Opium Wars, Britain was never satisfied with invasion of the economy of China who was required to pay reparations and usher in the treaty ports and exploit plenty of territory, including Hong Kong. The communication with foreign business men, especially British business men, was frequently growing.

The Chinese Borrowings in English before the 20th Century are slowly developed. One of the most important standards distributed by Cannon (1988) is that one Chinese word only committed by three in eight leading dictionaries can be recruited into English. These eight dictionaries include Random House College Dictionary published in 1975, Funk and Wagnall Standard Desk Dictionary and Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language in 1980, Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English and American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language in 1982, Chambers 20th Century Dictionary and Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary in 1983 and Longman Dictionary of the English Language in 1984. According to the standard, the relevant literatures have been collected and the small number of Chinese borrowings before the 20th century are as follows:

Table 1 indicates that the number of Chinese borrowings in English before 20th century is pretty small. There is no doubt that the development of Chinese borrowings in this period is comparatively slow.

Next, two periods will be divided and some typical items are analyzed.

3.1.2. Chinese Borrowings in English after the 20th Century

In 20th century, so many big events had taken place in China and the appearance of China had changed thoroughly. The People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949 instead of the rotten feudal rule for over 2000 years. The communication with the outside world has been improving after the 20th century. Especially since the launching of Reform and Opening-up of China, the interactions with the western countries in economy, politics, culture and other walks have been exponentially strengthening. Accordingly, the Chinese borrowings in English have developed rapidly since the 20th century.

1) Chinese Borrowings in English between the 20th Century and Opening-up

During the 1950s-1960s, the political and military ideologies of the Communist Party of China (CPC) were widely applied with the theory guiding revolutionary movements around the world.

Lianghui, an annual meeting, refers to the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. In addition, “two organizations” is also used to stand for Lianghui by Chinese Protestants, Catholics and pro-democracy activists in order to avoid Internet censorship in the People’s Republic of China.

Table 1. Chinese borrowings before the 20th century.

Yang (2011) studied that Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is an ethical and philosophical system, on occasion described as a religion, developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479BCE). Confucian, an “ethical-sociopolitical teaching”, had micro meaning during the Spring and Autumn Period while it referred to metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han Dynasty.

Yong Chen (2012) found that Confucianism became the only official ideology of the Han while a hybrid of Legalism and Confucianism as a ruling doctrine has been used by most Chinese emperors before the Han period after Qin Dynasty,. However, Buddhism and Taoism dominated the intellectual life with the disintegration policy of Han Dynasty in the second century.

2) Chinese Borrowings in English after Reform and Opening-up

Since the Reform and Opening-up, the trading with the foreigners is more and more frequent. The currency in China is renminbi. The renminbi, the official currency of China literally means “people’s currency”. The yuan is the basic unit of the renminbi, which also refers to the general Chinese currency, typically in international contexts. The “renminbi” and “yuan” similar to sterling and pound respectively refer to the Chinese currency and its primary unit. One yuan is made up of 10 jiăo, and a jiăo is 10 fēn.

Shanghai is the largest Chinese city by population and the largest city proper by population in the world. It is one of the four direct-controlled municipalities of the People’s Republic of China, with a population of more than 24 million as of 2013. The municipality borders the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the north, south and west, and is bounded to the east by the East China Sea.

Philippe (2011) found that the Panchen Lama ranks highest after the Dalai Lama in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. It is controversial for the present incarnation of the Panchen Lama that the People’s Republic of China asserts it as Gyancain Norbu while the 14th Dalai Lama asserted it as Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. The latter vanished from public eye shortly after being named, aged six. Gedhun had been taken into protective custody from those that would spirit him into exile and is now held in captivity against the wishes of the Tibetan people stated by Chinese authorities. Tibetans and human rights groups continue to campaign for his release.

Steven Engler (2005) studied that Kung fu is a Chinese term referring to any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete, often used in the West to refer to Chinese martial arts. Slote, Michael (2009) thought that it is only in the late twentieth century, that this term was used in relation to Chinese Martial Arts by the Chinese community. Yang, Jwing-Ming (1989) found that the Oxford English Dictionary defines the term “Kung-fu” as “a primarily unarmed Chinese martial art”. This illustrates how the meaning of this term has been changed in English. The origin of this change can be attributed to the misunderstanding or mistranslation of the term through movie subtitles or dubbing.

Next, take pinyin for example. Chinese Pinyin uses Roman alphabetical letters as its written form but having different system, rather than the Chinese orthography or writing system of Chinese, and does not mean that pinyin is a phonetic system.

Comparing with the Chinese borrowings before the 20th century, food, drink and dress are dominant while the more aspects are involved after the 20th century. Next the development of Chinese borrowings in English and its reasons are analyzed.

4. Chapter Three

4.1. Analysis of Contents and Reasons of Chinese Borrowings in English

4.1.1. Contents of Chinese Borrowings in English

Since the 14th century, the modern western civilization has begun to develop. With the ideological libration of people, the launching of new marine course and the rise of modern industry, the distance between different regions of the world is narrowed. However, Qing government speaks highly of itself as a celestial empire that possesses everything and needs nothing from the alien. In addition Qing government is afraid of the rebellion of people owning to the communication with the outer world. Hence the policy of cutting off Qing government from the outside world is carried out. For instance, only several porting, including Guangzhou、Ningbo and Yuntaishan, was allowed to do business with foreigners in 1648 while only Guangzhou is open to be trading port in 1757. On the one hand, the business with western is limited. On the other hand, the learning of western advanced technology and science for Chinese people was hindered. The reasons for the rare communication with western for Qing government which is direct to the slow development of Chinese borrowings in English are explored in the following paragraphs.

1) Contents of Chinese Borrowings in English before the 20th Century

From Table 2, the majority of Chinese borrowings in English before 20th century are involved in teas and food. Various teas, including bohea, pekee, conqou, hyson, souchong and oolong, are the major origins of Chinese borrowings in English. These kinds of teas can be divided into three varieties: oolong, black tea and green tea.

Oolong, a typical Chinese tea, generated from a unique process which withers under the strong sun and oxidation before curling and twisting. Special plant cultivars exclusively used for particular varieties include the majority of oolong

Table 2. Contents of Chinese borrowings in English before the 20th century.

teas, especially the well-quality ones. Oolong is a well-known tea among connoisseurs of south China and Chinese expatriates in Southeast Asia, typically the Gongfu tea ceremony in Fujian Province.

Green tea originated in China, but it has become associated with many cultures throughout Asia. Green tea has recently become relatively widespread in the west where black tea has been the traditionally consumed tea. Reich, Eike (2006) found that green tea has become the raw material for extracts used in various beverages, dietary supplements, and cosmetic items. variable growing conditions, horticulture, production processing, and harvesting time all can have substantial influences on the varieties and qualities of green tea in different countries where it is grown.

Unlike oolong, green and white teas, black tea, such as bohea, pekoe, conqou, souchong, is more oxidized whose leaves come from Camellia sinensis or the shrub.

Apart from various teas, fruits, such as litchi and loquat, are Chinese traditional food introduced to the western.

Textiles are also significant origins of Chinese borrowings in English. Silk is the most typical and prominent textile which wins the well-known fame in the world. It is the symbol of Chinese traditional culture (Walker et al., 2012) . However, few textiles, like silk and pongee, achieved so much success in the world. Gaolin, whange are two kinds of natural resources. Others are involved in pidgin English (gamen, Japan), social languages (kowtow), traditional culture (hong, tong) and so on.

Accordingly, Chinese borrowings in English before 20th century are slowly developed involved only in tea, food, textiles, and natural resources and so on. Besides, there are only several Chinese borrowings into English. In the next part, contents of Chinese borrowings in English after the 20th century are discussed.

2) Contents of Chinese Borrowings in English after the 20th Century

According to the standard of what is measured to be a Chinese borrowing in English mentioned in the chapter two, I have collected the relevant literatures and found out the increasing number of Chinese borrowings since the 20th century as follows:

In Table 3, the varieties of Chinese borrowings in English which are increasing and are involved in more fields after the 20th centuries can be clearly perceived, including the fields of politics, culture, economy and humanity, unlike the slow developed Chinese borrowings in English that are involved in narrowing scope.

Kuomingtang, Maoism, Maoist, Lianghui, Guanxi and ganbu originate from the politics. For example, Maoism is apolitical theory distributed by Chairman Mao (1893-1976), the father of New China―the People’s Republic of China. In China, Maoism whose political meaning is more significant than its cultural meaning is a compulsory course whatever you major in on college.

Traditional Chinese culture is introduced to the western countries, especially English-speaking countries, like Britain and America. Thus, some Chinese

Table 3. Contents of Chinese borrowings in english after the 20th Century.

borrowings, such as Confucianism, Taoism, Taoist, Yang, Yin, Ming, Sung, Tang and so on, are generated. The more our country interacts with other countries, especially western countries, the more Chinese culture will be introduced into the outside world.

With the exponential economic cooperation, Shanghai has been the world’s political, economic and cultural center of the world. Shanghai, to some degrees, is a hybrid international city with different cultures, languages and customs. When it comes to Shanghai, it refers to not only a super city but also a “melting pot” which embodies multi-cultures and an integrated global village. The influence of Shanghai on the world reflects the increasing international status of China.

When it comes to Chinese arts, Kung Fu is the most popular among people of the world. With regard to the language, Pinyin is no doubt deserved to mention.

Apart from the majority aspects involved in politics, culture, economy, geography and humanity, the weather, such as typhoon, is included. After comparing the Chinese borrowings before 20th century with these after 20th century, we can see that Chinese borrowings after 20th century have won rapid development. Next, the reasons that are attributed to the increasingly growing contents of Chinese borrowings after 20th century are analyzed, especially after Reform and Opening-up.

4.1.2. Reasons for Increasingly Growing Chinese Borrowings in English

The factors which are contributed to the rapid development of Chinese borrowings in English can be divided into two parts. The one part is the regularity of language itself. The other part is the promotion of Chinese development.

1) Regularity of Language Itself

The wide spreading of putonghua and English in China results from the vigorous and everlasting China’s economy. The more prevalent of the two languages have been, the more frequent they contact with each other.

As a result, more and more Chinese words are recruited into English as well with the large exportations of much more Mandarin words embodied into English.

With the decline in Cantonese and Amoy borrowings, Putonghua, however, has been prevalent in recent years, especially the Reform and Opening-up. Mandarin loanwords with Pinyin-based structure result in the majority of loanwords oriented into Pinyin-based ones. Since the One Road and One Belt has launched, a large number of Chinese borrowings will come into being more frequently in the foreseeable future, including plenty of more Mandarin loanwords. It is no doubt that both new borrowings and borrowed translations occur in various semantic pragmatic fields.

Additionally, a larger proportion of Chinese words will be introduced to English for translations besides the corpus generated by Cannon with the development of science and technology. However, it is impossible for prospective Chinese words to become mainstream of word supplier in the near future predicted by Cannon. In a word, the more both Chinese and English have developed rapidly, the more Chinese borrowings will be enrolled into English inevitably.

2) Promotion of Chinese Development

Firstly, in politics, the existence of feudal autocratic rule is one the most significant reasons. Emperors have the biggest power and the feudal hierarchy is based on them. Comparing with the western countries, the feudalism and autocracy are stable and last for over 2000 years in which the power is in the charge of the emperors while the western’s is scattered in the small imperial countries. So the policy of isolation with the outside world is implemented very well.

Secondly, in economy, self-sufficient natural economy was dominant in the past. In Europe in 18th and 19th century, the European economy had changed downright because of the industrial revolution so that the industry and commerce played a leading role. Nevertheless, in the feudal society in China for more than 2000 years, the majority of agricultural natural economy was planting. The famers produce not only the agricultural products but also articles of everyday use and handicrafts which are self-sufficient and not on sale. As a result, there is no economic connection with the western and Chinese borrowings in English are no doubt limited.

Thirdly, in culture, natural geographic factors are attributed to the isolation with the outside world. The southwest of China the roof of the world―Tibetan Plateau with steep mountains and the northwest is Tianshan Mountains. The north is Neimenggu Plateau and the northeast is snow-capped Da Hinggan and Xiao Hinggan Mountains and the southeast is the world’s biggest ocean―Pacific Ocean. Snow, mountains and forest consist of a natural barrier which hampers the connection with the out world on these unfavorable conditions. Finally, the rulers of Qing Dynasty don’t allow the people to gain the knowledge of western countries in case of the threat from the people. Consequently, the interaction between the China and western is not encouraged, which leads to the slow development of Chinese borrowings in English directly.

In addition, in social institution, since 20th century, the Chinese society has had earthshaking changes. The People’s Republic of China was founded, which demonstrated the collapse of over 2000-year feudal rule and a new China was engendered. Since then, the perspectives of China are becoming fascinating. The communication with the outside world is frequent, especially since the launching of Reform and Opening-up.

Finally, in international status, China is absorbed in the lessons of history that wars are opposed and the peace is pursued all the time. The feudal rule with the policy of isolation with the outside world is disappearing. China is one of the five permanent member states of UN. In 1978, Deng Xiaoping, the chief designer of China, launched the Reform and Opening-up. The interactions with the outside world are increasing exponentially and are involved in all walks of life, including in economy, politics, culture, humanity and society. Accordingly, more and more Chinese borrowings in English created continually.

5. Conclusion

In the process of economic globalization, the Chinese borrowings in English are increasingly growing, which is involved in economy, politics, culture, society and so on. Accordingly, the influences from our country to the out world are strengthening and China is becoming more and more prevalent among foreign people. However, it is noticeable that a series of problems are occurring. First of all, the majority of Chinese borrowings in English belong to the food, which reflects the science and technology are still under development. Secondly, few Chinese borrowings in English demonstrate the weakness of society in the construction of material civilization and spiritual civilization. For instance, Shuanggui, Hukou, Chengguan, hongbao and guanxi exclusively represent the unequal legislation, the violent executives and the corruption of government. Moreover, the pace of Chinese borrowings into the English is relatively slow, only several Chinese borrowing into English in a decade. Therefore, when it comes to the enhancing of cultural soft power, it needs individuals, communities, society and government, all working together and striving for the flourishing of China.


The article is supported by Degree and Postgraduate Education in Hunan Province. (Project Name: An Analysis of Chinese Cultural Identity of Chinese Learners in African Confucius Institute. Fund No. CX2016B423).


Firstly, I’m willing to show my sincere gratitude to Professor Jiansheng Chen. I am profoundly grateful to her for his inspiring directions, impressive patience and consistent encouragement. I believe that this thesis would have not been finished without her guidance. I fairly appreciate his spirit and effort spent in helping me solve problems in my thesis.

Secondly, thanks for Xueting Zhou who provided me with so many constructive instructions on the completion of my thesis. What’s more, I am also indebted to all my teachers who have helped me develop the fundamental academic competence.

Finally, thank my parents for their unselfish love and considerable care.

Cite this paper

Wang, C., Zhou, X. T., & Chen, J. S. (2017). Chinese Borrowings in English, Chinese Cultural Identity and Economic Development. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 7, 75-89.


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