Eating your words

Chinese dishes get official English names

Updated: 2007-08-31 11:12
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This is a report from Xinhua on how the government in China are trying to standardise the names of Chinese food and dishes for the Olympics. The report says that 2,753 dishes and drinks have been translated; a list which will be eventually used throughout the country.


As the article recognises, the translation of food and dishes could be a sorry, if not hilarious experience. One always expects a good laugh when reading foreign menus in English. This initiative makes sense since it shows responsibility by the authorities towards visiting tourists. Maybe all the relevant tourist authorities throughout the world could agree on a standard menu glossary and vocabulary. Of course, maybe this is not practical for all the various dishes, but certainly for the main ingredients and popular dishes.

This also makes sense in the context of business. It is good corporate responsibility to communicate well with one's clients. Unfortunately, sometimes a menu translated into English (badly or not) can also mean inflated prices if not more. Personally, I try to keep away from establishments with menus in English.

How about other authorities doing the same with their various jargon and instructions: health, police, road signs?


It's good to know what your eating.

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