Etymology of 高麗菜

I’d like to resolve a mystery over the etymology of the term used by Taiwanese for cabbage: 高麗菜
You can get more background by reading this post on my site:

I had argued that 高麗菜 was probably a loan term from Japan since Mandarin does not use 高麗菜 for cabbage, but 白菜 or 捲心菜. However, a friend of mine who is a linguist of Japanese shot that theory right out of the water; he commented that to his knowledge the Japanese don’t use 高麗菜 either.

So now I’m back to the drawing board: is it an indigeneous Taiwanese term? Any insights appreciated.

I can tell you that 高麗 is the Korean word “Koryo” (the origin of the name “Korea”). So 高麗菜 would be “Koryo cabbage”. Perhaps it is (or was) widely cultivated in Korea? I know they use some form of cabbage to make kimchi…

That part I get. The question is why does only Taiwan use this term (as far as I know)? Where does it come from, given that it does not appear to be Japanese or Mainland in origin?

This might answer your question above.




This might answer your question above.[/quote]

Qiu, well done! Where did you find this?

sounds like a bit of a suspect explanation there, though it probably did come to mandarin through taiwanese and japanese.

I happened to have read and bookmarked this page before.


So it could be related to the German Kohl?

didn’t realize that. also “col” in spanish and “kool” in dutch, which could have been (more likely than from german) paths of transmission to either japan or taiwan.

well, I think the base root is probably the Latin colis, but yeah, I’m thinking the Taiwanese just borrowed the Germanic word “kole” or maybe the “cole” from coleslaw. Fascinating stuff.