Even if you’re not of Chinese descent, you have probably seen or heard of “milk tea” before. You may have even tried it for yourself.
That’s not surprising considering milk tea is one of the most popular Asian beverages enjoyed around the world. It’s become so mainstream, in fact, that the name of the drink has successfully found its way into the newest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary — along with several other Chinese and Hong Kong terms.
That list of words is mainly food-related, such as “char siu,” “siu mei” and “yum cha”. There’s also other phrases, for example “guanxi,” which refers to the personal connections that facilitates making business deals. See here for the full list of Hong Kong and Singapore words that have recently been added to the Oxford Dictionary.
Due to its prevalence in and outside of mainland China and Hong Kong, these words are being used enough to emerge as a part of the English language. But it’s not the first ones.
There are already many East Asian terms in the Oxford English Dictionary. According to the article, “the dictionary records south-east Asian influences on English stretching back to 1555.”
These latest additions only reinforce the pertinence of Asian language in a global social and cultural scale, and point to the influence of East Asian culture — especially its cuisine.
On the contrary, there are many English fails in China as well.
For example, a sign that reads in Chinese “Do not throw litter in the pond” is erroneously translated into “Do not vote in the pool” in English. This type of embarrassing yet funny English translations of Chinese terms is called “Chinglish,” or “Chinese English.”
That could very well be a new language category that Oxford Dictionary might want to look into.