Newspaper article International New York Times

Offered in China: 'Fried Swarm' and Other Succulent Translations

Newspaper article International New York Times

Offered in China: 'Fried Swarm' and Other Succulent Translations

Article excerpt

A stroll through just about any Chinese city will reveal the joys of eating in a country with a language drastically different from English.

If Michelin gave stars for unintentionally brilliant dish names, an eatery in Pingyao, China, might well be the world's top restaurant. It has a large sign outside showing some of its tastiest dishes, with English translations: "In Bowl," "You Flour Silk," "Beef Cat's Ear" and a noodle dish in broth known as "Sauce on My Grandma."

The Chinese and English languages are so completely different that you often see awkward translations like these. They may make English speakers chuckle, but Chinese officialdom is not amused: When major international events come to China, the state tries to clean up the most egregious ones. Before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, for example, 400,000 signs and 1,300 menus were revised, including "Racist Park," a permanent cultural exhibition that was rebranded as "Minorities Park. …

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