The Cantonese (Yale cha4), Mandarin (pinyin chá) and Kan’yōon (cha) pronunciations of 茶 are similar to the Russian word чай (IPA t͡ɕaj) for tea. Do these have a common origin?

  • The geographical proximity would suggest that they might.
    – James
    Jun 24, 2013 at 0:59
  • 6
    Yes, they do. Wikipedia knows all Jun 24, 2013 at 1:29
  • @StumpyJoePete: Thanks. Can you please add this as an answer so as I can close my question?
    – winerd
    Jun 24, 2013 at 7:31
  • @winerd - Can you please confirm this question is about the origin of the Chinese word cha? If it is specifically about the similarities or how the word has influenced other languages this is off topic for this site.
    – going
    Jun 26, 2013 at 23:49
  • @xiaohouzi79: I asked the question because I wanted to know the origin -- as you can read. International words often have some kind of common origin. The answer could have been that the origin of the chinese word was a similar word from Japan for example.
    – winerd
    Jun 27, 2013 at 8:06

2 Answers 2


Yep, they do

As you can find on the great and all knowing wiki, the word for tea in most languages comes from the Chinese:

Cognate to Min :

  • English tea
  • Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish te
  • Finnish and Estonian tee
  • French thé
  • German Tee
  • Greek τέϊον
  • Hebrew תה
  • Indonesian and Malay teh
  • A great many others

Cognate to Mandarin chá:

  • Greek τσάι
  • Japanese ちゃ and さ
  • Korean 차
  • Kurdish ça
  • Punjabi چا / ਚਾਹ
  • Portuguese chá
  • Turkish çay
  • And others

Cognate to Mandarin chá via Persian:

  • Arabic شاي
  • Czech čaj
  • Georgian ჩაი
  • Greek τσάι
  • Hindi चाय Pashto چای
  • Persian چای
  • Romanian ceai
  • Russian чай
  • Turkish and Turkmen çay
  • Ukrainian чай
  • Urdu چائے
  • Others

There's some double counting going on here, but I'm just copying from their list.

Here's an interesting map showing the etymology of various words for "tea" in Europe. Etymology map of words for "Tea" in Europe

  • 1
    As an aside, some English people refer to a "cup a' cha", meaning a "cup of tea". english.stackexchange.com/questions/18152/…
    – Cocowalla
    Jun 24, 2013 at 16:30
  • @Cocowalla Yes, that's listed in the wiki as well. I didn't include it in my answer because it's a usage I've never heard/used. Jun 24, 2013 at 16:35
  • I've heard some colleagues from Teeside (north east England) use it, so it does still get at least some usage :)
    – Cocowalla
    Jun 24, 2013 at 17:20
  • @Cocowalla I didn't mean to imply that no one uses it, just that I personally am unfamiliar with the usage. Cheers :) Jun 24, 2013 at 17:29

The pronunciation of 茶 in ancient china before Han dynasty was like /da/,there are different pronunciation in chinese dialects,in Min dialect,it is very similar to the ancient one.Because of international trade between countries ,it had been borrowed by other language in different historical period from different dialects.together with 茶,is 丝,silk,making us associate them with road of silk. to By the way,荼/t' u/ is originated from 茶,whose pronunciation is similiar to茶 in ancient china.

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