Nov 082012

From Wiebusch and Tadmor’s Mandarin Chinese chapter in Loanwords in the World’s Languages: A Comparative Handbook (Haspelmath and Tadmor, Eds., 2009: 585-586):

Introduced fauna and flora are an area where loanwords are typically found. Borrowed animal names in Mandarin include shīzi 獅子 ‘lion’ (< Old Persian šer/šē/šī ‘lion’) and 駱駝 luòtuo ‘camel’ (originally tuotuo, borrowed during the Han Dynasty from Xiongnu dada ‘camel’). In addition, xiàng 象 ‘elephant’ is of possible Kra-Dai origin (cf. Thai chááŋ ‘elephant’; elephants were indigenous to the Kra-Dai homeland but not to the Sinitic homeland). Borrowed names for introduced plants include níngméng 柠檬, 檸檬 ‘the citrus fruit’ (of Austronesian origin, cf. Malay limau), pútao 葡萄 ‘the grape’ (ultimately from Elamite *būdawa ‘wine’), mógu 檳榔 ‘mushroom’ from Mongolian moku/mo::k and bīnglang 檳榔 ‘areca palm’ (of Austronesian origin, cf. Malay pinang ‘areca palm’).

Wonder how many lost intermediates that one passed through.

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