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Chinese Menu Malapropisms


eatingwitheddie
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i do recall seeing "crap" on a menu or two.  this is presumably something that's almost as good as "carp".

I recall seeing "crap quesadillas" in a glowing review reprinted on the website of a trendy restaurant. It had apparently been there a long time before the web community was alerted. The next working day it was repaired.

Just a typo.

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This is a fun topic.

I've never misspelled or misinterpreted anything in Chinese. However I'm not proud of that since it is such a complex language that I wouldn't attempt to learn it. I commend anyone for learning english as a second language because it is a strange one!

This is good in any language:

I've seen so many menu items but now am drawing a blank

I still have a pouch of Jamaican "Cock Soup" in my cupboard my mom gave me. Makes my husband nervous...

My dad's favorite fortune cookie was "You are doomed to be happy in marriage".

We used to have a can of gluten made by a company called "Ma ling" so on the can it read: Ma Ling Bran Dough

Loved him in the Godfather!

:laugh:

JANE

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i do recall seeing "crap" on a menu or two. this is presumably something that's almost as good as "carp".

Though not nearly as good as crab. My question is, if you ordered crap in expectation of getting crab and got carp, do you have a legitimate complaint. Of course if you got crap, there's no room for complaint.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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ah, those funny chinese with their silly spelling!

I'm sorry you need to express that sarcasm at this thread. I don't think your post reflects what anyone is thinking here. There's nothing silly about working hard in a foreign land without command of the local language. These errors are a testament to the industriousness of the restauranteurs in a foreign land and not to any inherent silliness in overcoming their hardships and lack of English. That their sons and grandsons can come to this thread and join in the serendipitous humor is a further tribute to the culture and humanity this group of immigrants brought with them.

Are anglophones the only ones who find humor in malapropisms? Do the French and Italians not make fun of the English and Americans who butcher their languages? Do they do it in good fun?

Is it harder to spot one's own spelling errors when dealing with a strange alphabet as well as a strange language. I should think spelling would be even harder for someone coming from outside the latin alphabet.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I wonder if there is a thread on some Chinese food site about ridiculous western renderings of Cantonese or Chinese language?

As someone who struggles along in English, I'm always in awe of people who manage to make themselves understood (and run hugely successful businesses) in countries where their native language is not widely spoken, often when they are well past the age when additional languages are easily acquired.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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bux, you're right, i've got it all wrong. by god, what a dense fool i've been. here you all were writing paens to the industriousness of chinese immigrants and i read it as essentially being endless good-humored, urbane variations on some redneck saying "that furner speaks english funny". my mistake. i see it now: these aren't jokes at the expense of second/third language english speakers at all--they're tributes to them. and the fact that some people of chinese origin are participating in the thread should have tipped me off that it couldn't possibly be offensive anyway. and i should have realized also that this is really a thread about malapropisms in general, in any language--that it is just a huge coincidence that it is happening in a thread about chinese menus on a chinese food forum and that almost every contribution is about chinese malapropisms in english.

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Do you never laugh at ethnic jokes? You're seeming very humorless at the moment. It seems to me that all of the participants in this thread are people who love Chinese food and have a lot of respect for Chinese culture and history. Aren't almost all jokes at the expense of someone?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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pan/michael,

yes, i suppose i sound somewhat humorless right now--ah well. and yes, i do laugh at ethnic jokes from time to time (i'm even known for making horrible jokes about indians and bengalis). but the thing is i don't then turn around and make torturous justifications for laughing at them (as i see bux doing here). it would be one thing if the thread was about malapropisms in general--it isn't, and the few attempts, by people such as suzanne, to turn it that way haven't really worked. it remains largely a joke at the expense of one particular group, and i'm surprised that it is going on this long--especially among people who do have such an obvious respect for chinese food and culture. i should add that i'm not suggesting, let alone alleging, that anyone who has participated in this thread (or taken pleasure in it) is some sort of racist--it is possible to have the best of intentions, and a great deal of respect, but still unwittingly replicate offensive structures.

in any event i'm glad i'm not the only one who has expressed some discomfort about this.

mongo

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You're right, mongo_jones, you aren't the only one.

I could easily tell funny stories about mistakes I and my parents have made in trying to speak foreign languages, but I don't remember any of them relating to food and they'd be off-topic on this thread.

I guess my attitude on this thread is that there are lots of mistakes we've seen on English-language Chinese menus that are funny. When I see a misspelling like "eggplant parmagana" that was probably made by a native English-speaking American, it usually isn't funny; just stupid.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
"Homemade" would belong in the same category. If I want homemade, do I go to a restaurant? Perhaps my mattress is "hotel-quality." :raz::raz::raz::raz:

Even better than "homemade" is when the restaurant in question decides to be cute and advertise their "Ho-made" wares. Hmmmm....!

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Following the theme of what you don't like seeing on a menu---- how about the word 'fresh'?

When I see 'fresh creamery butter' or 'fresh dairy milk' ---'fresh eggs' ---'fresh garden vegetables' , etc. I just laugh. These are just words, I know, but it annoys the heck out of me.

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