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【Learn Chinese】English Phrases borrowed from Chinese
It may surprise you that some of these common English phrases actually come from Chinese, so let’s have a look at what they are.
Chop Chop
Have you ever been in a hurry and told someone to get a move on by saying chop chop?
Well next time you use this phrase you will know that it originates from the Cantonese 速速 chuk chuk (Mandarin 速速 sù sù).
It is thought that chop chop is a pidgin English version of 速速 chuk chuk, which has a similar meaning to 快快 kuài kuài in Mandarin and is used to tell someone to hurry up.
Perhaps more common in American English than British, we have the word chow.
We already saw how chow mein derived from the Chinese for fried noodles and here chow is the same coming from the Cantonese 炒 chaau (Mandarin 炒 chǎo) meaning stir fry.
Chow was originally pidgin English and was first used in the 1800s by Chinese labourers who were developing the railroad in California.
Chin Chin
A word which you’re not going to hear very often anymore is chin chin, another way to say cheers or to wish someone well when drinking. It comes from the Mandarin 请 qǐng, meaning “please” or “to invite”.
In China you’re more likely to hear cries of 干杯 gānbēi when drinking, however occasionally people will also invite you to do a cheers with them by saying 请 qǐng as well.
Interestingly in certain parts of the world “chin chin” is still commonly used when clinking beer bottles or tapping those wine glasses. Italy is a prime example, “cin cin” remains the most popular word for “cheers”.