Similarities in Greek and Chinese Language
By Theresa Mitsopoulou
The word “hygea” – health, must be related to
the Chinese word “yu” – which means to heal,
to recover, to become well (as an adverb it
means “the more…the more” since one recovers
gradually and little by little).
Today, the word--Albania--is referred to as
"Alebaniya" in Chinese. This word is believed
to be derived from the Latin word:
"Aibainiya". (The "l" in Albania came about
later in Greek and in Latin as these languages
evolved). Poignantly, in modern Chinese, "bai"
means "snow white". In the ancient Chinese
language, "ai" means "snow white" without the
"b"--not in reference to the young maiden and
her seven dwarfs however! Rather, "snow white"
refers to the dramatic descriptions of the
snow white mountains of Albania which bring to
mind the many horrid tragedies the Greek
soldiers faced during World War II upon such
The Chinese word, "bai", which means
"snow white" offers another fascinating
meaning which might sound rather farfetched.
Nevertheless, the Chinese word for white wine
(which is produced with sugar cane and maize,
as is Greek ouzo) is "bai jiu". Many wines are
referred to, in Chinese, as "san- bai" which
means exactly: "white three-fold". Notably,
these particular wines produce such heavy
foam, one might venture to assert that the
type of wine known for its heavy foam is
champagne. "White three-fold" or "white three
times" can also be linked to a particular
French province; to explain, this province has
such extensive vineyards for wine production,
the province was named Champagne. The
world-famous "foam" wine, so to speak, is
Champagne or "san bai"--white three-fold!
The Chinese word, "lun" means wheel.
Similarly, in Latin, the word "luna" refers to
the moon--an object similar in shape to the
wheel. The word "luna" also means "talk".
Interestingly, there is a Greek expression
that goes as follows: trehei I glossa tis
rodani. This means: "she speaks too much and
too quickly, like a spinning wheel". However,
this "wheel" refers to the loom where yarn is
spun. Undoubtedly, this connection has
The Chinese word, "gu" means a small
amount. This word also refers to the thigh
bone with its prior meaning being a "branch"
or "part". The Chinese word "liao" means
water. Thus, the term "guliao" means "a little
water". Interestingly, one might be able to
link this term with the following Greek
expression: "mia goulia nero" which means
exactly, "a sip of water". The similarity
between the Chinese "guliao" and the Greek
"goulia" is evident. In the word, guliao, the
"gu" precedes the "liao". In the Greek word,
goulia, the "gu" which denotes a small amount
(in Greek--(o)ligos) comes after the "li".
The word, "ban daor" means half-way and
on two levels. Notably, the Greek word for
"attic" is "patari-deroon". The similarity is
evident. Most likely, the Maya did not know of
the existence of the horse, but it is also
possible that their name used to stand for the
original common "cradle". The name for
"chariot" is "a[ma]xa" in Greek. The word,
"amaxa" must also be related to "ma" which
means horse. The connection between the word,
"kongbu" which in Chinese means "terror" and
the word, "kouboura" which in Greek means
"pistol and/or bad student" is a rather
humorous one. Namely, those students who
walked around with pistols attached to their
belts had an easy life, so to speak, by never
being pushed to study. The Chinese word (lao)
tai-ye means an elderly gentleman or venerable
leader. The Greek word, "tagos" means
commander and political/religious leader. The
connection between the two words is clear.
Also, in ancient Greek, "tagi" means "line of
battle", "tagma" means "brigade" and
"tagouhos" means commander.
The Greek word, "naziara" means "a woman with
affected manners" even though dictionaries
explain this word to mean more precisely, "a
woman trying to attract the attention of the
opposite sex". My Chinese teacher referred to
a word that caught my attention while in
class. The teacher referred to the word, "nan
zhu le" which means a person who attempts to
make excuses in order to not follow up on a
dinner invitation or something of the like.
Thus, "nan zhu le" refers to a difficult
person, so to speak. I question if "naziara"
is actually a woman who "stirs up trouble" or
"problematizes" people and/or situations.
Thus, "being difficult" was a method of
stirring up the interests of others in the
older Chinese and Greek civilizations.
Today, the Chinese word, "yi" which
comes from the compound word, "hou yi" means
"descendent" and "son". The Greek word for son
The word, "wan pi(r)" means
mischievious. The word, "wan" stands for
foolish and bad while the word, "pi" stands
for leather. In the renowned Shadow Theater, a
[mischievious/ bad] vampire--which is an
English and French word known in Chinese as
"xixiegui"--was always dressed in leather,
thus is forever associated with it.
The meaning of the word "dian" is rule
or law. In Greek, the word, Diana, means
success: "ta ekane diana" is an expression
which means exactly--he hit target.
Undoubtedly, the Romans coined the huntress ,
Artemis, "Diana" because she rarely missed
hitting a target with her famous bow and
My latest discovery (1/2002) was the origin of
the word, "Jew" or "Jewish”. I spent
two years in Jerusalem with my brother while
he was working there as a diplomat.
This is how, from a young age, I became
acquainted with the Israelis--their history,
culture, and religion something that helped me
later later in my research (e.g. Agamemnon's
Mask and Panchen Lama, pg. 219, 251). After
the diaspora, Jewish people had to continue to
move from place to place and had no choice but
to lead a nomadic lifestyle as they were
constantly persecuted having supposedly killed
Jesus Christ. The expression--the "wandering
Jew" explains this fact. The Jews learned
professions that they could easily practice
within any country, especially medical
professions. Instead of buying land, they
invested all their money in gold, jewels, and
valuables of every kind so that at any given
moment, they could pack their valuables and
depart with a bag in hand. Incidentally, a
large amount of diamonds, rubies, pearls and
gold was handed over to the Germans by the
Jews in Thessaloniki. Many Jews became
bankers, lending money with high interest,
auctioneers, and jewelers which might explain
the word, "Jew". "Jew" might mean someone who
deals with precious stones. Finally, in
Chinese, the word, "zhu" means jewel.
The word, muchun, means late spring or
the third month of the lunar year and this
explains where the name of the periodical
tropical wind comes from in Asia comes from.
The word is believed to come from Arabic.
The word in Chinese for "fox" is
"huli". Another name for this animal is
"laopo". The latter name comes from the Greek
word "alopix" (the same consonants --l and --p
testify to that). The Chinese word, lao, means
old woman and po, means the first wife (of
many wives presumably). In Greek, one can
refer to an old woman as a fox alluding to her
The story of Alexander’s the Great
horse, Bukefala, is well-known. The most
salient trait of this horse is the fact that
he fears his own shadow. In Chinese, "xia"
means "to scare". (In ancient Chinese, "xia"
most likely means shadow). Similarly, in
Greek, the words "iskios" and "skiazomai" mean
shadow and also the verb, to be afraid. The
consonant, k, is added after the s--as in the
English word “scare”.
The word "pouggi" refers to a purse with
money. Long ago, Greeks often hid money in
bedspreads and under mattresses as a way of
protecting their assets from thieves.
Significantly, the word "pugai" in Chinese
means bedspreads (pu=spread and gai=cover).
The word, "yu" in Chinese describes
someone foolish and crazy. The Greek word
describing this same person is "agirtis" which
essentially means vagabond.
The Chinese word, Qi pai, means
"wonderful". A person who feels proud and who
behaves foolishly and in a snobbish manner can
be described, in Greek, as "xipasmenos". In
the Cretan dialect, "xipatera hromata" means
"wonderful striking colors".
There exists the "ka" prefix in the
Greek language. A common word in Greek that
refers to old, worn shoes must relate to the
Chinese prefix, "char" which means "broken
pieces". The prefix "bo", in Greek, means
"rich". The word, bodosidia, and the proper
name, Bodosakis refers to "gifts". In Greek,
surnames are taken from nouns; for example,
the Greek noun and surname "Tzitzilis" relates
to the word, "zaili" which means reasonable.
In the same way, the last name, "Tsalis" also
brings to mind the word, "zaili". In addition,
the last name, "Soulis" stems from the word
"xiuli" which means repair.
It is easy to see the correlation
between the Greek word, "man" which means
"wild" and the English words, "mania" and
"maniac". The word, buren, means "unbearable"
which comes from the Greek word, "bourini"
which means both bad weather and anger. As I
have stated before, Greek names like Thalia,
Danaos, David and Anna--in terms of their
spelling and meaning, were known in China. The
Chinese are the first to be surprised at this
fact and they believe that these particular
names have been adjusted phonetically from the
English language into the Chinese language.
However, the syllables of various names have a
meaning in Chinese which creates an issue. To
exemplify, the name, David, can mean "great
guardian and/or defender". In Chinese, the
word for this meaning is "da wei". The " da"
prefix in Chinese correlates with the "de"
prefix in the English word, "defender". Thus,
one is to assume that the name "David" means
The greatest Sinologue, the frenchman,
Marcel Grant, has already noted that the
Chinese believe that people's names gave them
certain qualifications or traits. For example,
if someone is given the name "groom" he will
lead this kind of life even if he was born a
prince. Names of flowers, animals, and birds
will transfuse to the individual's grace,
power or intelligence. For example, a mother
might call her son with his official name or
with a pet name like "Big Eagle". Such names
like Black Bear and Winged Horse etc. are very
common among Native Americans whose country of
origin is undoubtedly China. Similar names
were used in the primitive society of
Zulu--Shaka was called, "Big Elephant".
"Omiros", in Greek, means "hostage". It is
believed that Homer was given his name because
he and his father were taken as hostages. In
Chinese, though, "hema" is called the
hippopotamus (river horse)--the biggest
amphibious land animal next to the elephant,
known for its abundant and tasteful meat,
which was common in the rivers of China.
The word, "a ba" means "father" and "abbott".
The word, "a ge" means "big brother" in
Turkish. In all likelihood, the pronunciation
of the word "ge" is similar to the
pronunciation of the word "ye" which are two
words that derive from the words "gia" and
yia". This relates to the first part of the
fabulous king of Mycenae (Aga-memnon). It
might sound odd but the name of Aga Han--a
religious leader of the Israelites of Persia
and India is actually related to the name of
Agamemnon. Observe how both names begin with
the "Aga" prefix. Biblical names are also
related to the aforementioned name, for
example, Abraham, Aaron, and also Ave, and the
word, Amen. The "Mo" prefix of Mohammed and
the word "Moslem" (muslim) comes from the
Chinese "mu" meaning "solemn, reverent". The
breakdown of the word "Muhanmode" is as
follows: mu=solemn, han=rare, mo=silent,
concerned, de=reverent which in turn refers to
a respected, older person. Next to the
important names of Agamemnon and Homer is the
name "Souploulou" which refers to a "girl of
the street", so to speak, which is in
Chinese--shunlu (lu). The Chinese word, "xie"
means thank you as well as "whither" (as do
flowers). The American government official,
Eugene Atkinson, visited Japan in 1996.
Bowing, as the Japanese do, he thanks and
greets people giving the impression of a
whithered flower through his physical
gestures. I would like to signal at this
juncture that besides "p" the letter "t" is
also related to the Chinese. The ideogram is
written "ding" (great confusion is caused
because the Chinese -d is often rendered in
Greece with -t like di-telos) and means "nail"
because it has a horizontal line on top like a
head. In ancient Chinese, there was a
numerical meaning refered to as the "fourth
one of the Heavenly Stems).
Today, we live in a world in which the notion
of a "show" plays a major part (TV show, show
business etc.) Originally, however, this word
came from the Chinese word "zhou" which means
circle and/or week--namely, something that
turns around like the roulette in the casino.
"Show" was called the triumphant circle of
victors, athletes, and charioteers in the
Roman stadium and arenas. Related to the word
"zhou" are the words "tzogos, tzogadoros (play
cards). Finally, the lucky games have the
element of divination.
"Ma gua" is the long uniform of Kongfu and the
word "gua" refers to the English "gown". In
Chinese, the word "shi" means city. Notice the
relation between "ci" and "shi".
The dictionary reveals that the word, "Ayto",
means "goal". This word was initially
discovered in the 16th century and means "the
final line of a foot race" and "the point from
where the ball is shot". Most likely, the word
"goal" relates to the Chinese words, "gou" and
"le" which both mean "end" thus referring to
the end of a football game for example. "Ren
lei" is a Chinese word which means "human
being, mankind". "Lei ren" (where the "lei"
notably precedes the "ren") means "anthropoid,
chimpanzee, gangster, and monkey". This might
correlate with the Greek word "lera" which
means 1) dirt and 2) an individual of
ill-breeding. Thus, the Greek word "lera" and
the Chinese word "lei ren " might possibly be
Interestingly, monkeys were very common
in China and many myths contain monkeys as
central heroes--for example, one myth
describes a monkey being smart enough to reach
the sky and create great havoc in the divine
palace of where the gods dwell. However,
monkeys also symbolize ugliness and are
considered unreliable swindlers by nature.
“La” means to play a stringed musical
instrument and “la la dui” is a group of
children (originally girls like the
“majorettes”) that cheer, dance, sing and
applaud. In Greek schools the first grade
children dance and applaud around their doll
singing “la la la”, while in French
dictionaries there is an expression “tra la
la” as a refrain of a song.
“La” is also one of the musical notes, to
which the Chinese, today, refer only as
numbers, e.g. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 instead of “do,
re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, and I took then the
liberty to think that their names were
possibly of Chinese origin. After an
examination besides “la” also “do” had a
meaning in Chinese (dong=the sound of a drum
and “dong bu la” is the name, today, of a
stringed instrument), while “mi” means
“decadent music” like “fa” and “si” is the
first part of the word “trumpeter” and
“morning herald” (sihaoyuan and sichen).
A discovery hard to believe is the meaningof
the English preposition “in”, called in
Chinese today, “jin” (verd and adverb) meaning
“in, inside”, please come in =qing jin. It is
used very much in soccer and basket games:
this ball went in, that one didn’t=zhe qiu jin
le, na qiu bu jin. The letter “j” is not
rendered in English but the relationship with
“I” is clear in the Greek and English proper
The J. Ayto dictionary of Word Origins (Arcade
Publishing, N.Y.) relates the word “young” to
Welsh, Irish, Sanskrit, Latin, English,
Lithuanian, Russian, Bulgarian, German, Dutch,
Swedish and Danish. It seems that despite the
difference in pronunciation, the Chinese word
is “you” – young.
“Za” – is the second syllable of “zizanion”
which in Greek means “weed” that grows in
wheat and rice plantations and that in Greece
and China the farmers have to do away with. It
also applies to a naughty child “zizanion”.
A word of the every day vocabulary is “tour”
(tourism), whose origin is the Chinese word
“tou(r)” = head.
An example where the “h” has replaced the “y”
is the word “humor” meaning, “deep, distant,
silent like the Nether world”. The Chinese
children in school learn that the word “humor”
is of English origin but its ending “r” (also
in other English words, e.g. armor, honor, and
in Greek “patir”, “air”, is typical Chinese
(shihour, weir) and behind the “h” is a hidden
consonant “y”. The ending “r” could alone
substantiate the Chinese origin of “humor”.
According to the Ayto Dictionary the word
“humor” has to do with the body fluids and in
fact the word “humid” has both consonants of
the word “humor”. “Humor” comes from the Greek
word “Hymos” which in English means
“Babeizi” means “eight life times” (it
indicates a long period of time). The word is
found together with lao=old (laobabeizi)
meaning then “oldfashioned, outdated”, because
old people have rusty ideas. The Greek word
“babesis-dolios, katergaris” is the Chinese
“babeizi” seen that an old man has a lot of
knowledge and experience and can always find
his way out like Ulysses (the word is
explained in the dictionaries as of Albanian
My mind did dare also to match the Chinese
word “bang” – club, cudgel, the English word
“bang” – clap, hit, explode (big bang) and the
Greek “bam” – clap, but also “excellent”.
Today in Chinese, “tai bang” means “excellent,
something that attracts attention” and the
Greek word “bam” has the same meaning (a well
known Greek song says: tonight you are “bam” –
i.e. tonight you look gorgeous, you are
beautifully dressed. Of course, the original
meaning of “bam” is noise.
In the telephone directory of Athens there is
only one family name “Meggousoglou” and many
similar ones, e.g. Meggos, Meggoulas,
Meggidis, Meggisides. Meggousoglou Anastasios
happens to be a friend and he had once told me
that his family, originally from Caesarea in
Asea Minor, came to Greece in 1922 together
with many other refugees, when Greece lost the
war against Turkey. Once more, by
accident like so many other times in the past
and when trying to investigate another word in
the dictionary, my eye fell on
nationality and mengguzuren=Mongolian
(Mongol). E and O take very often the place of
one another (like in Greek
“lego”-“logos” and the same way the S the
place of Z (like in German and Dutch in the
beginning of words e.g. sun-Zonne) and so the
S instead of Z of Meggous-oglou-Mengguzu is
not a problem and the name means “Mongolian,
from Mongolia” (in Greek Moggolos).
“Huaqiao” call the Chinese the overseas
Chinese. “Hua” which means excellent in
Chinese, is another name for China and “qiao”
is explained as “tall” (qiao mu=tree, tall
piece of wood) and as “residing abroad” and
this last meaning, it seems that it is related
to “tall”. The Chinese will have now to
forgive me because I will speak in their place
(like many times before) about something that
they should have thought themselves.
The name “huaqiao” was given to the overseas
Chinese because they were tall (in comparison
with the people of mainland China) due to
different climatic conditions and especially
to different and better food. Also the word
“qiao-tall” meant “residing abroad”.
Meggousoglou (Mongolian Menggu(ren)
white like snow
visitor from heaven
cheering children’s squad
very old person
clap, noise, excellent
gua (ma gua)
muchun=tropical periodical wind
tou(r) = head
you mo=deep and silent
xian ke lai=visitor from heaven