Why the World Only Has Two Words For Tea

Slashdot has an interesting story of why there are only two variations of the word tea in the majority of languages:

With a few minor exceptions, there are really only two ways to say “tea” in the world. One is like the English term — te in Spanish and tee in Afrikaans are two examples. The other is some variation of cha, like chay in Hindi. Both versions come from China. How they spread around the world offers a clear picture of how globalization worked before “globalization” was a term anybody used. The words that sound like “cha” spread across land, along the Silk Road. The “tea”-like phrasings spread over water, by Dutch traders bringing the novel leaves back to Europe.

The term cha is “Sinitic,” meaning it is common to many varieties of Chinese. It began in China and made its way through central Asia, eventually becoming “chay” in Persian. That is no doubt due to the trade routes of the Silk Road, along which, according to a recent discovery, tea was traded over 2,000 years ago. This form spread beyond Persia, becoming chay in Urdu, shay in Arabic, and chay in Russian, among others. It even it made its way to sub-Saharan Africa, where it became chai in Swahili. The Japanese and Korean terms for tea are also based on the Chinese cha, though those languages likely adopted the word even before its westward spread into Persian. But that doesn’t account for “tea.” The te form used in coastal-Chinese languages spread to Europe via the Dutch, who became the primary traders of tea between Europe and Asia in the 17th century, as explained in the World Atlas of Language Structures. The main Dutch ports in east Asia were in Fujian and Taiwan, both places where people used the te pronunciation. The Dutch East India Company’s expansive tea importation into Europe gave us the French the, the German Tee, and the English tea.

This reminds me of this old post about how most languages, apart from English, use “ananas” as a word for pineapple.

Cheerleaders for techies in China

china cheerleaders

Here is something you don’t read every day:

Internet companies across China are embracing programming cheerleaders, pretty, talented girls that help create a fun work environment. Their job includes buying programmers breakfast, chitchatting and playing ping-pong with them.

According to the HR manager of an Internet company that hired three such cheerleaders, its programmers are mostly male and terrible at socializing, and the presence of these girls have greatly improved their job efficiency and motivation.

Time in China

Time in China follows a single standard time of UTC+08:00, which is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. China geographically spans five time zones and there were five time zones in use during the Republic of China (1912–1949). Since 1949 all of China has only had a single standard time, but UTC+06:00 is also used unofficially in Xinjiang and Tibet.


36+ Terabytes of free cloud storage

Chinese cloud service offers 36+ TB of free storage (!!!).  The biggest disadvantage here is that the whole website is in Chinese, but apparently there are several translations and guides in other languages available online.  Immediately after the registration you get 7 GB.  Once the desktop client is installed you get another 10 TB.  If you install a mobile client, you get additional 26 TB.  And then you can increase it even further by clicking through ads, promotions, etc.

Via Yuri Timofeev.

Until now, it was particularly difficult to obtain…

Until now, it was particularly difficult to obtain reliable figures on the results of the Android operating system in China. Indeed, there is no “centralized app store” and most smartphones sold in the country do not use Google services, including activation. In fact, it is very difficult to know the actual results.  The search engine Baidu has corrected this by publishing a report on trends in the mobile internet for the 3rd quarter 2013. It appears that there would be now 270 million active users of the Google platform in the country (more than 20% of the total population). Growth would, however, decrease with a small 13% against 55% for the same period last year but up 10% compared to Q2 2013.

270 million Android users in China

Hardware is dead

Hardware is dead

At these levels there is almost no profit margin left in the hardware business. A $45 tablet is cheap enough to be an impulse purchase at the check-out line in Best Buy. A $45 price puts tablets within reach of a whole host of other activities not traditionally associated with computers. Tablets could be used by waiters in restaurants. By mechanics in auto body shops. By every nurse in a hospital. By pretty much any category of work that today needs a computer but where PCs are too expensive to be deployed. These are also devices built entirely for commercial reasons, no government backing, no academic sponsor, no proof-of-concept.

If the World War III will ever start, it won’t be …

If the World War III will ever start, it won’t be for oil or food.  It will be the whole world jumping on China, in an attempt to destroy every single computer running Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.