Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cha, Tee

Some history on the two root words for tea in the world:
The Chinese character for tea is 茶, but it is pronounced differently in the various Chinese dialects. Two pronunciations have made their way into other languages around the world. One is tê, which comes from the Amoy Min Nan dialect, spoken around the port of Xiamen (Amoy). This pronunciation is believed to come from the old words for tea 梌 (tú) or 荼 (tú). The other is chá, used by the Cantonese dialect spoken around the ports of Guangzhou (Canton), Hong Kong, Macau, and in overseas Chinese communities, as well as in the Mandarin dialect of northern China. This term was used in ancient times to describe the first flush harvest of tea. Yet another different pronunciation is zu, used in the Wu dialect spoken around Shanghai.

Languages that have tê derivatives include Afrikaans (tee), Armenian, Catalan (te), Czech (té or thé, but these words sound archaic; čaj is used nowadays, as explained in the next paragraph), Danish (te), Dutch (thee), English (tea), Esperanto (teo), Estonian (tee), Faroese (te), Finnish (tee), French (thé), (West) Frisian (tee), Galician (té), German (Tee), Hebrew (תה, te or tei), Hungarian (tea), Icelandic (te), Indonesian (teh), Irish (tae), Italian (tè), scientific Latin (thea), Latvian (tēja), Malay (teh), Norwegian (te), Occitan (tè), Polish (herbata from Latin herba thea),Lithuanian (arbata from Latin herba thea), Scots Gaelic (tì, teatha), Singhalese (thé), Spanish (té), Swedish (te), Tamil (theneer), Telugu (ṭī), Welsh (te), and Yiddish (טיי, tei). Tea in Sesotho, the language spoken in Lesotho is tea.

Those that use cha or chai derivatives include Albanian (çaj), Amharic(pronounced shy) Arabic (شاي shai), Assyrian (pronounced chai), Azeri: (çay), Bengali (চা), Bosnian (čaj), Bulgarian (чай chai), Capampangan (cha), Cebuano (tsa), Croatian (čaj), Czech (čaj), English (char, slang), Georgian (ჩაი, chai), Greek (τσάι tsái), Gujarati (cha), Hindi (चाय chai), Japanese (茶, ちゃ, cha), Kannada Chaha, Kazakh (шай shai), Korean (茶,차 cha), Macedonian (čaj),Malayalam ("chaya"), Marathi (chahaa), Mongolian (цай, tsai), Nepali (cheeya), Oriya (cha), Persian (چای chaay), Punjabi (ਚਾਹ), Portuguese (chá), Romanian (ceai), Russian (чай, chai), Serbian (чај chaj), Slovak (čaj), Slovene (čaj), Somali (shaax), Swahili (chai), Tagalog (tsaa), Thai (ชา, cha), Tibetan (ཇ་ja), Tlingit (cháayu), Turkish (çay), Ukrainian (чай chai), Urdu (چاى), Uzbek (choy) and Vietnamese (trà and chè are both direct derivatives of the Chinese 茶; the latter term is used mainly in the north and describes a tea made with freshly-picked leaves).


MK said...

The alternate Roman letter spelling in Serbian should be the same as in Bosnian/Croatian (being really the same language), thus čaj, not chaj. The letter combination ch is nearly unpronounceable in Serbian.

Toddy said...

Man, I really like tea.