February 2015

Feb 2015

2015: The Year of the Goat

Chinese New Year 2015 welcomed the Year of the Goat. Decorations reflect this and people born under the Goat sign will hope to have a lucky year. Dragon Dances were held in the streets of cities all over the country and most restaurants served special menus of foods to commemorate the new year. Many Chinese arrived in the US as immigrant workers building the huge railroad network across the country. Linguistically, like all immigrant groups, they brought with them words that quickly became a part of the fabric of the English language.

Did you know these words originated in China?

Chow is a word that was used by peasants to name any everyday dish, usually made with whatever food was available at the time. Early explorers to China heard the word so often that they used it as a label for food in general. Gung ho, meaning ”work together” (a cooperative) in China was adopted into English as a World War II slogan which the Oxford Dictionary now defines as “unthinkingly enthusiastic and eager, especially about taking part in fighting or warfare.”

Long time no see is probably a literal translation of its Chinese equivalent ( hǎo jiǔ bú jiàn (好久不见)., although the Oxford Dictionary states that it emerged as a “humorous imitation” of incorrect English spoken by Native Americans. Ketchup comes from the Fujianese (coastal Chinese dialect) pronunciation of 茄汁 (Kyo-chap) which literally means tomato juice. And the more obvious: “chopsticks,”‘ “kumquat,” “typhoon,” and “kow-tow.”

Happy Chinese New Year to all Goats and to everyone else.

Note: We offer Food Safety classes (ServSafe Food Managers and Food Handlers) in Mandarin, and we have a bilingual faculty of Mandarin speakers if your company requires any kind of training in Chinese.