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Soy sauce noodles?

33 posts in this topic

Like this: the Japanese term "ramen" is in fact the corruption of the Chinese term "lo mein". Most native bred Japanese cannot produce the "L" sound, just as most native Chinese speakers have trouble with the "R" sound. We all know of the various guises and forms that the humble "ramen" can assume.

I beg to differ from this view and I agree with Liuzhou. Ramen is from the northern Chinese' "la mein", or pulled noodles.

"Lo mein" has a Cantonese origin I believe. The word "Lo" could have two interpretations in Cantonese.

1) The motion of scooping (scooping the noodles from boiling water).

2) The action of mixing - stirring the noodles with some kind of seasoning.

In Hong Kong, if you order a dish of "lo mein" you will be served a dish of boiled, al dente, thin egg noodles with oyster sauce poured on top. In the Chinese communities in the USA (I would imagine other diaspora places as well), "lo mein" had turned into frying noodles with dark heavy soy sauce. More like the Shanghainese style thick fried noodles.

When I was in elementary school in Hong Kong, (late 60's), soy sauce chow mein was an item served by street vendors on a 4-wheel cart with a giant wok. Plain meatless. Onions. Green onions. Dark heavy soy sauce, high heat... and of course, pork fat. LOL It's the commoners' food. Now they serve this item on a silver platter in high end dim-sum restaurants and charge you 10X the price. LOL :laugh:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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most native Chinese speakers have trouble with the "R" sound

No they don't. Some Cantonese speakers do. There is an [r] sound in Mandarin. I've been living in China for 15 years and have met only one or two people who couldn't say [r].

the Japanese term "ramen" is in fact the corruption of the Chinese term "lo mein"

No. It's much more likely to be a 'corruption' of "la mian" (拉面), something quite different.

Speaking as a Toyshanese speaking almost 70 year old "loh wah kieu", I have fallen into that group's mindset that anyone who doesn't speak Toyshanese (or at least Cantonese) really isn't speaking Chinese at all!! :raz::laugh:

As for the la mian vs lo mein topic, I will stick by my original explanation, as it was explained to me by one of my learned Japanese diplomat colleagues. If he was wrong then I am wrong, but what the hey, I prefer his side of things. But I like your certitude in correcting me. Me, I like to be a little more circumspect - the result of years training and working in a profession that deals in things which are much more nebulous and nuanced than some internet bulletin board .

Edited by Ben Hong (log)

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I beg to differ from this view and I agree with Liuzhou. Ramen is from the northern Chinese' "la mein", or pulled noodles.

You and liuzhou may disagree all you want, that is your prerogative. I always forget to use it, but let wikipedia be your friend: enter ramen, scroll down to the "history" chapter and it's there in black and white, second last sentence of the paragraph.

In this case we are all correct in our own way, but maybe, just maybe, you should be more certain before you call an old geezer out.

I suppose an apology from either of you would be out of the question.

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I'm not in the slightest bit apologetic for what I wrote.

Don't cite wikipedia at me. Any passing troll can edit it. But, at the moment, it does list your theory as the fourth most likely etymology and my suggestion as the first. In ten minutes it might say Lady Gaga invented it.

I tend to trust things like the Oxford English Dictionary a bit more. It says that Ramen is "prob. f. Chinese lā pull, stretch, lengthen + miàn noodle." History would also suggest the same. At the time of the Japanese adoption of the term it was much more in contact with northern China. "Lo mein" is Cantonese and the Japanese were, at that time, much less in contact.

Also for the record, while you may like my certitude, you might like to note my use of the word "probably" which suggests a lack of certitude as opposed to your "in fact".

But what I really don't understand is what you are getting so upset, defensive and aggressive about.

It's only noodles!

Can we get back to talking about food, please.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

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Uncle Ben Hong:

You said in such an authoritative tone that: the Japanese term "ramen" is in fact the corruption of the Chinese term "lo mein". I only begged to differ from your view.

I am sorry that you felt my post as calling someone out. It certainly was not my intent.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Just curious, and I am not taking sides because I am not an expert in these matters:

I used Google Translate,

English to Chinese, Ramen = 拉麵

Ramen to japenese = ラーメン

Japanese to Chinese= ラーメン = 拉麵

I am an expert, however, in saying that soy sauce noodles taste very good. :-)


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Ha Ha! Google Translate and any similar sites are responsible for most of the nonsensical Chingish and Japlish we have to suffer every day. It is pretty much useless as a translation tool.

I suggest you take one of your favorite songs. Translate the lyrics to Chinese or Japanese or any other language, then translate back to English and see what nonsense you come up with.

Now can we talk about food, please?

Edited by liuzhou (log)

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I suggest you take one of your favorite songs. Translate the lyrics to Chinese or Japanese or any other language, then translate back to English and see what nonsense you come up with.


I know what you are talking about.

and to get back to food:

I understand that "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" translates to "The wine is pretty good, but the meat is lousy" in some language. LOL!


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