Saturday, March 13, 2010

What Do You Call Your Camellia sinensis?

My apologies for transliteration - i.e. the use of the Roman alphabet to render words normal spelled out in languages that use different characters.

Add ImageIt started when I learned Russian. The word for tea is "chai." Which is the same as a popular word for Indian tea, "chai." Other languages on the Indian subcontinent express it as "char." Throughout Asia it is some cha* word.

Get to Europe and the new world... Tea, te, the, tee, thee etc.

I'm interested to test the idea that what you call it is based on how it got to you. The first major importers of tea (and just about everything else) to Europe were the Dutch. They call it "thee" (pronounce tee). But they started moving it from Indonesia, mainly Java. What is(are) the most common word(s) for tea in the approximately 1,200 languages spoken in the Indonesian archipelago? Or more importantly what was it called in the Dutch East Indies?

I wonder if the interweb can make my life easier? What data can you people out there give me? What do you call tea?

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