Chinese ‘Scholars’: English Language Is a ‘Dialect’ of Mandarin

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

A group of Chinese scholars has suggested that many contemporary Western languages, including English, were derived from Mandarin Chinese.

According to their research, the French, German, and Russian languages were also strongly influenced by Chinese culture.

According to a report at the Inquirer on Tuesday, the claim by Chinese scholars at the World Civilization Research Association was first presented at a summit in Beijing last July, but has not been widely discussed with international media until now.

The claim came with a hearty dose of Chinese nationalism, as the group asserted everything Europeans believe about the influence of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome on their language and culture was invented to conceal the much more important influence of China upon the inferior Western civilizations. In fact, Egypt, Greece, and Rome were supposedly modeled on ancient China as well.

“Do not let fake Western-centered history hinder the great Sino-Renaissance!” advised group founder Du Gangjian.

Having chugged enough red pills to sweep this false Greco-Roman history from their eyes, the Chinese scholars proceeded to offer some examples of Chinese linguistic influence that seemed like quite a stretch:

Zhai Guiyun, vice president and secretary-general of the group, told Sina Online via Taiwan News last Aug. 31, that some English words derive from Mandarin.

He pointed out that “yellow” resembled “yeluo,” the Mandarin word for “leaf falling,” while “heart” resembled “hede,” the Mandarin word for “core.”

“Of course, the pronunciation will be a little different, which is caused by the variations in pronunciation over hundreds or even thousands of years in different regions,” Zhai told Sina Online via Vice. “Think about how significant the differences are in our regional dialects … so it can be said that English is like a ‘dialect’ in our country.”

Zhai concluded that the examples he presented “proved” English is a Mandarin dialect.

According to the Inquirer, not even Chinese citizens are buying what Zhai and his group are selling. “Thanks, now we can no longer laugh at the Koreans who claimed Confucius and Genghis Khan are Korean,” one Internet wag from China wrote.

There has been some less grandiose scholarship tracking the influence of trade with China upon Western languages, a good deal of it occurring during the 18th Century, when a sort of hybrid English-Chinese language developed at major trading ports. The most enduring effect of this linguistic commerce is that Western traders brought home some Chinese phrases they found particularly useful or witty, such as “long time, no see” and “no can do.” 

These phrases were mostly translated into European tongues, rather than European languages changing to incorporate Chinese words. If anything, serious linguistic scholars have expressed surprise that so little of the Chinese language has made its way into the voracious English dialects that eagerly gobbled up bits of German and Japanese after World War II, even after the great increase of trade with China that began in the Eighties.

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