8 Indian loanwords used commonly in Mandarin language
September 9, 2022

Indians soft culture has permeated across the lofty Himalayas, buoyed by the winds of the Bay of Begal and carried by waves of Buddhists, traders and explorers to China. With culture and habits, Indian language travelled through the bamboo curtain with many Indian words being adopted into Mandarin language. Inchin Closer covers 8 Indian loanwords used commonly in Mandarin language

These Indian loanwords that are still commonly used in Mandarin, tell tales of how sanskrit scholars would have traded with the Chinese, the goods most in demand, but they also talk of a shared tongue, where pronunciations might have swayed slightly, but remain eternally similar. The etymology of loanwords evokes history, and also culture and commerce. They tell tales of shared experiences, intercultural transfusions and that China and India shared a lot more than we give our lands credit for today. These Indian loanwords commonly in Mandarin language are proof that while China gave India paper, ink and gunpowder, India also exchanged innovations and goods with China. Let’s not let politics, an army of weapons or the lofty Himalayas segregate us, rather lets dwell on the richness of our ancestors who till today through language demonstrate that we have a lot more in common than is made out to be.

Learnings from loanwords

Words for trees, flowers and plants easily permeated through language as science, art and Buddhism meandered Eastwards across China to Japan. As trade and business moved, words for animals, dry fruit and markets transgressed into Mandarin, Many of these words had entered the Indian lexicon originally from Persia several decades prior. But thats the best part of a living language and the proof that we once traded seamlessly, without border or barrier. And just like that our language carried with them the scents of our deep cultural, economic and social ties.

The exchange was of course both ways, with loan words taken from Mandarin into Indian languages too. The most common amongst them being cha or the word for tea, Lychee and Manchurian, which originated from the race of people – Manchus.

  1. Nirvana निर्वाण / 涅槃 Nièpán

2. Body शरीर / 舍利子 Shèlìzi

3. Bazaar. बाजार / 巴扎. Bāzhā

4. Badam. बादाम / 巴旦木. Bādànmù

5. Lion. सिंह. / 獅子. shīzi

6. Jasmine. मल्लिका /. 茉莉花. mòlìhuā

7. Moment. क्षण. /. 剎那. chànà

8. Pagoda. பகோடா Pakōṭā (tamil). /. 宝塔. Bǎotǎ

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8 Indian loanwords used frequently in Mandarin language
8 Indian loanwords used frequently in Mandarin language
8 Indian loanwords used frequently in Mandarin language

8 Indian loanwords used frequently in Mandarin language

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