Here is a rather hilarious excerpt from Y. R. Chao 1916, “The Problem of the Chinese Language”, The Chinese Students’ Monthly, 11:7-8. I think this was Y. R. Chao’s first article in English.
“A very interesting and important part of etymology is the question of the origin of Chinese words. Various Occidental philologists have conjectured a common origin between Chinese and Indo-European languages; and while a good deal of similarity between corresponding words are accidental, especially in the case of onomatopoeic words, still, if we look over the list of hundreds of words that have been regarded as being cognate with Indo-European words we cannot but consider the fact as established. A few examples are:
|English||Chinese cognate||Ancient pronunciation|
“Some may object that most of these characters are modern characters. So they are, but the words themselves have existed and have been modified in their spoken form through all the vicissitudes of change of writing. This fact is what many ought to appreciate, for it dispels the wrong notion that the Chinese language consists of the sum total of the characters.”