Where Chinese food and translations intersect… sort of

Every day I check the site Engrish.  It has photos of amusing “translations” of East Asian languages into “Engrish”.

I see that Sancte Pater has also found Engrish. He posted, inter alia, a shot today.

Since I post often about Chinese food… and translations, here is a shot from Engrish.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Jack Hughes says:

    Do they do freshly airlocked Cylon?

  2. Supertradmum says:

    I am trying to imagine a private fried dumpling. Does one eat that in the kitchen, in a corner?

  3. Phil_NL says:

    To be honest, it’s hard to decide whether most simply isn’t an accurate translation of what’s being served.

    “Beijing style cripsy colon” is not outside the realm of what you should expect on the menu there…. though I’d rather not contemplate which animal provided the colon….

  4. albinus1 says:

    One summer, years ago, I did the summer program of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, as part of which we spent a week on Crete. One evening we had dinner in an Italian (!) restaurant in Heraklion. The menu was clearly designed for tourists, because it was in Greek, English, French, and German. As I had noticed elsewhere in Greece, the English version had obviously been written by someone who had studied English in school and was using a dictionary, but who was clearly not a native speaker (e.g., vegetables cooked in oil were frequently described as “oily vegetables”). The item on this particular menu that caught my eye was “spaghetti with bacon insurance”. I ordered it just because I had to know what it was. It turned out to be spaghetti with a topping of crumbled bacon.

    One of the members of our group (alas, not I) was clever enough to figure out that the writer had wanted to say that the spaghetti had a covering of bacon; and if you’ve studied English in school and are working with a dictionary, covering — coverage — insurance, and, if you aren’t a native speaker, you pick the one that sounds good without understanding the nuances of usage, context, etc.

    I always tell this anecdote to my Latin students to caution them against accepting a particular meaning offered by the dictionary without understanding anything about how it is used in context.

  5. JimmyA says:

    Ah, I had wondered where the team who translated the 1970s version of the Missal had ended up – now I know. Tackling Chinese shows unexpected commercial savvy.

  6. Supertradmum says:

    I am sorry, but I am laughing at “ginger chicken feet”. Besides seeing a chicken tiptoeing over the chicken yard, I recalled that Ginger was the name of the female “Steve McQueen” in “Chicken Run”. she didn’t quite make it out, I guess.

  7. Joe in Canada says:

    and there’s this dismaying one from the news.va: “Child morality rates under five decreasing” http://www.news.va/en/news/child-morality-rates-under-five-decreasing

  8. Tina in Ashburn says:

    oh. thanks, but I guess I’m not that hungry after all.

  9. Patti Day says:

    Our host invited us to a restaurant with no menu (not that I could read the characters anyway) where delicacies were brought out one after another all evening. One was a huge platter of what looked like babies’ hands, gelatinous and slightly bluish. They were Ginger Chicken Feet. It was the one dish that I just couldn’t get past my lips.

  10. xavier217 says:

    I perfer my crispy colons Szechuan style.

  11. Andrew says:

    How can you eat a punctuation mark?

  12. digdigby says:

    I once got a Chinatown menu full of Engrish. My favorite was the delicately worded “Pork Rear End Steak”. The menu writer probably knew that ‘butt’ was a vulgar word and wouldn’t do on a menu and so changed it to the euphemism ‘rear end’ which sounds highly ribald whereas ‘pork butt steak’ wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. I shudder to think of having to learn English cold without even a grounding in a Romance language.

  13. irishgirl says:

    Oh my goodness, this is both funny and gross at the same time!
    ‘Crispy colon’….EWWWW….! [sticking my tongue out and grimacing]
    I’m with Phil-I’d rather not know which animal provided that colon….

  14. Robert_H says:

    I pity the French, having to eat (or drink) French husband comb jelly apricot juice.

    Fr Z, I vote we replace the platitude fortune cookies with Engrish screen-caps.

  15. Dr. Eric says:

    The Chinese literally reads “da chang” for the second one (the one most people are commenting on), which is “large intestine”- obviously someone was getting real Chinese food, not the Americanized stuff we’re used to.

    The one in red reads: ____ yu hua ___ niang san bao (I can’t read the characters of those I left blank- too blurry) But it appears that it is 3 treasures fermented slippery fish (yu hua- slippery fish; niang- fermented/brewed; san- 3; bao- treasure/jewel.) The 3 treasures are related to Buddhism.

  16. Darren says:

    I wonder about “Toy Series of Happy Garden”

    2. The cotton in this product, the hair should not enter the mouth, Israel Exempt and eat carelessly, is far away from the fire source.

    Hmmm… are they allowing Jews to eat the cotton that others should not? Or, is Israel far away from a fire source? Hmmm

  17. Clinton says:

    I agree with JimmyA above– Father Z. may have stumbled upon the latest project from the
    hands of the 1970’s ICEL committee. Seems they’ve applied the same level of scholarship
    and fidelity to the meaning of the original when translating Chinese to English as they once
    did with Latin!

  18. mike cliffson says:

    For an idle internet hour…
    The telegraph picture galleries “sign language2 has hundreds similar, some are juxtapositions rather than mistranslations.
    this weeks:
    I would blush to type out some of the ones Ive laughed at over the years that Ive seen myself.

  19. Random Friar says:

    “…pepper fresh linen” — no wonder I kept sneezing all night!

  20. inara says:

    maybe Private Fried Dumplings are the equivalent to Rocky Mountain Oysters?

    as for Chicken Feet, you can buy them at most grocery stores here in the Carolinas (though they’re usually labeled “chicken paws” LOL). They need to be boiled in a sauce for a long while (usually either root beer or vinegar/tomato based at our house), so I can’t bring myself to touch them after they’ve been waving at me from the stovetop all day…but the kids think they’re finger lickin’ good! (oh & you need to clip their nails off first if the butcher didn’t…bleck…thankfully my dear husband is the meat meister around here)

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