This from the People’s Daily today. While I can understand the move, it does mean that a quirky feature of China will disappear.

The odd translation of Chinese dishes’ names into English will disappear soon, as a policy released by Chinese authorities on June 20 will take effect on December 1st. The policy will guide English translations for food and other services.

Translations of Chinese dishes with names that are odd, such as “Chicken without Sex,” “Four Glad Meat Balls,” and “Tofu Made by Woman with Freckles,” have created misunderstandings for years.

In fact, there is a lot of variety in Chinese cuisine, and their names have a lot of cultural meaning. Dishes are named according to appearance, taste, cooking methods, and ingredients, but their names also come from cultural elements, including the historical allusions and folk customs behind them.

Taking “Dongpo Pork” as an example, it implies the life story of Su Dongpo, a famous litterateur of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127 A.D.). The “Four-Joy Meatballs (Meat Balls Braised with Brown Sauce)” contains people’s expectations for “happiness,” “affluence,” “longevity,” and “joy.” Research into their translation is as interesting as tasting the delicacies.

As a matter of fact, the ungrounded translations reflect a lack of service awareness, as names can influence foreign diners’ understanding of both Chinese delicacies and Chinese culture.

The new guidelines will standardize translation of dishes’ names, so that diners will not be puzzled by odd translations while enjoying the many delicacies in Chinese restaurants, both in China and overseas.


Not sure if these two are connected:

And don’t forget to be carefully fragile:

More items to make one ponder, from the Department for Producing Risible Texts for the Amusement of Foreigners.

On my most recent trip to China, I made an extremely important discovery: all those Chinglish signs, instructions, texts and so on, are actually produced by a special section of the government’s Ministry for Friendly International Contact. It is known as the Department for Producing Risible Texts for the Amusement of Visitors. It takes quite some training to get a job in this department and the skills are subtle.

Each time I go to China I enjoy it all the more, so much so that it is one of the places in the world where I can easily imagine living

This time we received something of a rock-star welcome to the Nishan Forum at Confucius’ home town:

The nuance was perhaps not clear to all … but more was to come:

When one drew near, they ushered one in:

At a few moments, I was able to catch the excited teenagers beneath:

Being the official Australian VIP representative at an event that was as political as it was intellectual, I made a mental note to let Julia G know I had not put in one good word for her.

Which means:

But after a few days of rubbing shoulders with former presidents, advisers, ambassadors and communist government officials, of police escorts and road closures wherever we went, of a massive press battery filming and snapping, of being mobbed for endless photos with students (I kid you not), I had had enough.

I was keen on more ordinary life, whether with a group of old musos in a park at night:

Some local Shandong food from around the lake::

A lift in a beaten up motorised tricycle (the only suspension on them is what flesh you might have on your bum, although they will soon be a thing of the past):

Or indeed a glorious squat toilet on the slow overnight train I took from Jinan to Xi’an:

I was after some decent Chinglish:

The more esoteric, the better:

At one moment I realised I could no longer rely on pinyin, for in a quiet corner I found a toilet and stood bamboozled. No pinyin, no symbol for male and female; only Chinese characters. I guess you always have a 50% chance of being right, but I’d prefer to be able to read that script.

I must admit that I pondered whether the chubby ruling class women of the Tang Dynasty of 618-907 (for that was the aesthetic then) had very flat ears after sleeping on pillows like this:

By this time I was in the old imperial city of Xi’an, where I had to sing for my supper and accommodation at Shaanxi Normal University:

Supper consisted of a comprehensive walk along the endless ‘snack street’ – street food steaming, boiling, frying in all manner of fashions. Hadn’t dared until now, but my hosts tucked in. So I did too.

Finally I met an old friend who reassured me it was all perfectly good for you: