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Which Chinese Words Do Foreigners Recognize the Most?
A report on the most recognized Chinese words by foreigners was released by CIPG

From US President Donald Trump’s granddaughter Arabella to Jim Rogers’ daughter Happy Rogers, quite a number of foreigners have either started to learn Chinese or prefer their descendants learn the language in recent years.

Meanwhile, as an increasing number of foreigners are now looking towards the East, many Chinese words have become a familiar sight.

The China International Publishing Group (CIPG) on February 17 released a report on the most recognized Chinese words overseas. According to the report, “Shaolin,” from the Shaolin Temple – the most well-known Buddhist Temple internationally for its martial arts training – tops the list of the 100 most recognized Chinese words.

Among the top 100, culture-related words, such as "Chunjie" (Spring Festival) and "Chongyang" (Double Ninth Festival), account for a large portion of the list.

“Yuan,” China's currency, is third on the list, while "gugong," the Chinese for the Palace Museum or the Forbidden City finished in fourth place.

The Palace Museum has become a must-see attraction for world leaders during their trips to China. US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, as well as British Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip, were all guests there during their visits to China.


The Chinese word "mahjong" also squeezed into the top 10 list. The game, which is widely played across China, made its way onto the global stage in recent years, and has found fans worldwide.

Chinese words about the martial arts, such as "Qigong," "Taichi" and "Wushu" are also included on the list. And Chinese food, one of the country's hallmarks, has found its place as well.

Dumplings (Jiaozi), hot pot (Huoguo), pancake (Jianbing) and steamed bun (Mantou) are among the eight food words that foreigners recognize the most. Many foreign students were inspired by Chinese pancake vendors and launched their own start-up catering businesses after returning to their own countries.

Nowadays, people can eat Chinese pancakes not only in China, but also in the US and Europe.

Meanwhile, many Chinese festivals, such as the Double Ninth Festival, the Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and the Spring Festival have also become familiar to foreigners.

Chinese words related to the country’s politics and economy have also found their places on the list; for instance, the Chinese words for the Belt and Road and China’s well-known high-speed railway. Also, the names of the traditional fairy tales that are used for the Chinese spacecrafts Wukong and Chang’e, have made the list.

Zhifubao, or Alipay, the online payment mobile application under China’s tech giant Alibaba, was listed in the science and tech category. Alipay, dubbed by foreigners as one of the new “great inventions” of China, saves users the trouble of carrying their wallets.

Alipay instantly responded to the report, saying it is a great honor to be listed, while vowing continued efforts in the New Year.

According to the CIPG, the report was based on surveys in eight English-speaking countries including the US, UK, Australia, Philippines, South Africa, Canada, Singapore and India.

( February 18,2018)

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