Sinicization of Indic Loanwords in Chinese Language: Foreignization to domestication



Dassanayake, N.


Work Unit:

Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka


Vol.9 No.2 (Serial No.15) 2021






Indic loanwords in Chinese language account for the largest number of loanwords in Mandarin Chinese. These loanwords have become an important integral part of the lexicon of Chinese language and throughout decades have undergone assimilation, semantic extension and phonological adaptation. The present study is an investigation into the modes, levels and history of Sinicization of Indic loanwords in Chinese language. Fundamentally, it is evident from the literature and historical accounts that Sinicization of these loanwords is a process from foreignization to domestication. Native-Chinese doctrines and philosophies, essentially Taoism and Confucianism have had multifaceted influences on the Sinicization process which has resulted in semantic extension, semantic change or total diminution of original meaning. While less used high culture-sensitive loanwords have completely disappeared from modern Chinese, loanwords of higher Sinicization level have completely secularized. It is observed that foreignized loanwords have very less tendency of being absorbed into modern Chinese and many such terms have been excluded in modern Chinese dictionaries.

Key Words:

Indic loanwords, translation, Chinese language, Sanskrit, Sinicization


doi: 10.26478/ja2021.9.15.6


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