Chinese loanwords facts for kids
Chinese loanwords are loanwords borrowed into non-Chinese languages, especially East Asian languages. Since China introduced writing to the Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese languages, each language had also borrowed many Chinese loanwords. Since all the languages have very different sound systems from each other, they all have different systems for pronouncing Chinese loanwords (though there are many words that sound similar to each other). These are called Sino-Xenic pronunciations. These are similar to how loanwords from Latin and French sound differently when spoken in English.
At one point, all these languages only wrote in Chinese characters. Today, Japanese is the only non-Chinese language that writes in Chinese characters in everyday life. Chinese characters, or kanji in Japanese, can be used to write both native Japanese words and Chinese loanwords. Today, Korean uses Chinese characters, or hanja in Korean, only for Chinese loanwords (when writing only in hangul is too ambiguous) and writing out one's own name. Today, Vietnamese does not use Chinese characters at all, but only uses the Latin alphabet, or chữ Quốc ngữ in Vietnamese. Chinese characters are only used as a decoration in Vietnam today, and they are studied by only a few Vietnamese.
Sino-Xenic pronunciations in different East Asian languages
|Traditional Chinese character(s)||Mandarin||Japanese||Korean||Vietnamese||English meaning|
Chinese loanwords Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.