The title of this section Menu - Face Oil as the Chinese characters which render the English word menu sounds similar to "mian you" in Chinese, literally meaning 'face oil'. It illustrates the cut throat world of Chinese-English translation via the exotic medium of culinary delights. Or rather how machine translation is dangerous for your health.
Warning: This webpage contains words which may offend. Please leave now if you think you may be upset by words like fuck or even the very idea of it!
The pictures in this part of the site aren't mine, nor do I know where they come from, that is, the person or people who actually took the photgraphs initially. I first encountered them when my sister came over for a stayover in January. Someone had posted the photos to her and we had a side splitting time. I would be remiss if I didn't do some internet search to see when the first instances of these menus occured, but the earliest hint of such things existing is due to a post by tissot on 28 July 2005, but there weren't any photographs there. A small list of items were given and the hint that they originate in a restaurant in Heyuan county, Guangdong Province.
See www.candameet.com tissot 2005-07-28 23:48 绝对原创，这是我今天出差在广东河源一餐厅吃饭时看到的菜单译文，大家看了别笑喷了啊！ 干炒牛河：Fuck to fry the cow river 新西兰牛扒：The cow of NewZealand pick 特式鸳鸯扒：Pick with the type mandarine duck 日式鳗鱼饭：Day type eel rice 猪扒意粉：The pig picks the idea powder 猪扒饭：The pig picks the rice 综合寿司：Synthesize Sushi 日本花寿司：Flower in Japan sushi 扁豆炖龙骨：The hyacinth bean braise the main beam of boat 生熟地炖龙骨：Living to braise the main beam of boat familarly 鸡骨草炖龙骨：The chicken bone grass braise the main beam of boat
From the websources that can be linked directly to, there seemed to be a gap in time before the next mention, but the webpage didn't have the pictures to support the webauthor's claim of having taken some photos with "Fuck to fry the cow river" in. From December 2nd 2005 we see the whole lot being shown at dean and linda's site.
There are photographs from at least two different menus, so there seems to be more than two notoriously badly translated menus extant in China somewhere. When next you visit, be prepared for:
What would 先生XianShengSir be ordering, today? May I suggest the
The chicken hates the soup of as an excellent starter followed by
We always send coffee or milk teas.
Very good, then Sir, enjoy!
Below, the picture which tells a thousand words is given to the left, followed by what I think ought to be the true English translation. Below each picture, I've given notes on the particular characters, ingredients, or dishes mentioned.
(奉送咖啡或奶茶 feng song ga fei huo nai cha all with coffee or milk tea)
湯类 tang lei Soup
沙律 sha lü Salad
扒类 pa lei Steaks and Chops and Cutlets
黑椒猪扒 hei jiao zhu pa Pork Chops with Black Pepper
咖喱 ga li Curry
咖喱鸡扒饭 ga li ji pa fan Curried Chicken Leg with Rice
世界美食 shi jie mei shi Delicious Dishes from around the World
星州炒饭 xing zhou chao fan Singapore Fried Rice 三文治 san wen zhi Sandwiches / 多士 duo shi Toast
三文治 san wen zhi Sandwiches / 多士 duo shi Toast
牛油多士 niu you duo shi Buttered Toast
世界美食 shi jie mei shi Dishes from the World
星州炒饭 xing zhou chao fan Singapore Style Fried Rice
干炒牛河 gan chao niu he Beef with Riceflour Pasta Stirfry
炸酱面 zha jiang mian Noodles in a savoury (meat) sauce
上汤云吞 shang tang yun tun Wanton Soup
上汤水饺 shang tang shui jiao Meat Dumpling Soup
日式海鲜汤乌冬 ri shi hai xian tang wu dong Japanese Style Seafood Udon Noodles in Soup.
猪扒汤面 zhu pa tang mian Pork Chop with Noodle in Soup
餐蛋汤公子面 can dan tang gong zi mian Luncheon meat and Egg with Doll Noodle in Soup.
牛腩捞河粉 niu nan lao he fen Stewed Beef Brisket with Riceflour Pasta
三丝汤意粉 san si tang yi fen Italian Pasta with three types of Shredded Meat in Soup.
窝蛋牛肉粥 wo dan niu rou zhou Beef Congee with Egg strands
冬菇滑鸡粥 dong gu hua ji zhou Shitake Mushroom with Tender Chicken Congee
田鸡粥 tian ji zhou Frog Congee
黑椒牛柳丝炒意粉 he jiao niu liu si chao yi fen Black Peppered Sliced Beef shreds fried with Italian pasta.
日式炒乌东 ri shi chao wu dong Japanese Style Fried Udon Noodles
三丝炒公子面 san si chao gong zi mian Doll Noodle Fried with Three Types of Shredded Meat
干炒意面 gan chao yi mian Pan fried Italian Pasta
咸鱼鸡粒炒饭 xian yu ji li chao fan Salt Preserved Fish with Chicken Fried Rice
西式炒饭 xi shi chao fan Western Style Fried Rice
干锅，煲仔，水煮类 gan guo, bao zi, shui zhu lei Wok Braised , Claypot Casseroles and Poached dishes
干锅鱼头 gan guo yu tou Wok Braised Fish Heads
矿泉水 kuang quan shui Mineral Water
朱古力 zhu gu li Hot Chocolate
阿华田 a hua tian Ovaltine
好立克 hao li ke Horlicks
鲜奶 xian nai Fresh Milk
鲜奶加蛋 xian nai jia dan Fresh Milk boiled with Egg
冻柠七 dong ning qi Iced 7-Up with Lemon
冻柠乐 dong ning le Iced Coca Cola with Lemon
冻柠蜜 dong ning mi Iced Lemon Tea with Honey
鸳鸯 yuan yang Yuan Yang
什果冰 shi guo bing Mixed Fruit Slush Puppy
參茶 san cha Gingseng Tea
硬中华 ying zhong hua Ying ZhongHua Cigarettes
卤水鸭肾 lu shui ya shen Savoury Brine Cured Duck's Gizzard/Kidney
卤水拼盘 lu shui pin pan Savoury Brine Cured Meat Selection Platter
卤水猪肚 lu shui zhu du Savoury Brine Cured Pig Bag
卤水掌亦 lu shui zhang ji Savoury Brine Cured Duck's Feet and Wings
粟米汤 su mi tang Sweetcorn Soup
美国特级西冷牛扒餐 mei guo te ji xi leng niu pa can American Prime Quality Sirloin Steak Meal
罗宋汤 luo song tang Bortsch
顶级蓝山 deng ji lan shan Top Quality Blue Mountain Coffee
巴西 ba xi Brazilian Coffee
曼特宁 man te ning Mandheling Coffee
意大利 yi da li Italian Coffee
碳烧 tan shao Charcoal Roasted Coffee
 现代汉英词典 A Modern Chinese-English Dictionary 外语教学与研究出版社 (1999) ISBN 7-5600-0486-5
 汉英词典 - 按罗马字母 顺序排列 ABC Chinese-English Dictionary Ed. John Defrancis, Curzon.(1999) ISBN 0-7007-1190-2
|The search on Google relied on finding the word string "fuck to fry the cow river" which is shorted below to "ftftcr".|
|28 July 2005||http://www.canadameet.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-21126.html||first instance of "ftftcr"|
|02 December 2005||http://engling.blogspot.com/2005/12/blog-post.html||Earliest dated picture found with "ftftcr"|
|02 December 2005||http://deanandlinda.com/index.php||talks about the menu with the whole collection in the next link|
|07 December 2005||http://khaitzer.blogspot.com/2005/12/butter-many-privates-fuck-to-fry-cow.html||Points to a forum source in malaysia, but the forum link here can not be found anymore.|
|09 December 2005||http://cantong.blogspot.com/2005_12_04_cantong_archive.html||The pictures begin to make their way around the blogs|
|11 December 2005||http://lamkudde.blogspot.com/2005/12/translate.html||Ditto|
|14 December 2005||http://hompy.netvigator.com/main/page/sobalas?showFriends=true||Likewise|
|14 December 2005||http://www.pbase.com/bad_english/bad||This site owner seems to view it through anti-Chinese eyes|
|16 December 2005||http://community.livejournal.com/engrish/164141.html||All 8 photos are reposted here|
|22 December 2005||http://mr-v.blogspot.com/2005_12_01_mr-v_archive.html||Claims to have taken pictures of a menu with "ftftcr" in Taiwan but the crucial pic links are broken|
|01 January 2006||http://www.onyame.de/article.php?story=20060101163129897||with a printable version|
|http://www.onyame.de/article.php?story=20060101163129897&mode=print||same as above|
|15 January 2006||http://www.xanga.com/wl003j?nextdate=1%2F30%2F2006+12%3A4%3A30.217&direction=n||And we have Chingrish...|
|22 January 2006||http://wikipedia.cnblog.org/w/index.php?title=%E4%B9%BE%E7%82%92%E7%89%9B%E6%B2%B3&oldid=1430130||The Wikipedians get ahold of the news...|
|29 January 2006||http://blog.yam.com/non2005/archives/1060851.html||A number of the dishes mentioned in these menus is shown, and they do look delicious. An excellent page.|
|03 February 2006||http://www.xanga.com/home.aspx?user=KATO456||more blogging|
|02 March 2006||http://www.rahoi.com/2006/03/may-i-take-your-order.php||This site has a different menu altogether.|
|06 March 2006||http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/49860||blog|
|10 March 2006||http://www.boingboing.net/2006/03/10/excellent_engrish_me.html||See link for 2nd March 2006 above, where photo is taken.|
|12 March 2006||http://www.sylvainbouchard.com/wpblog/?feed=rss2&p=218||a blog with an XML problem|
|13 March 2006||http://curbstonecritic.blogspot.com/2006_03_01_curbstonecritic_archive.html||Another blogger finds them...|
I wish to thank Tak To who posted the following message at sci.lang. See here for the thread in context.
The following post is not available on some newsserver, probably due to the erroneous date. ----- ----- Dylan Sung wrote: > Tasty dishes and the hilarious consequences of machine translation. > > "Fuck to fry the cow river", anyone? > How's about a "The pig picks the elder brother a cloth " > > http://www.dylanwhs.ukgateway.net/menu/index.html Quite good! Some comments: Menu 1 > ["奉送咖啡或奶茶"] The word 送 does indeed mean 'send' but it also has > the connotation of being 'included' with the meal, Hence 奉送 (all > with) 咖啡 (coffee) 或 (or) 奶茶 (milk tea) as the extra 's' is > unnecessary, but students of Chinese know that nouns aren't modified > to indicate number. Or more simply coffee or tea included While 送 can mean "to send", it is closer to “to give a gift” in this context. 奉送 is to offer very respectfully. I.e., coffee or tea are free. ----- > 湯类 literally means 'soup types' or 'types of soup', for which > bortsch and chowder are examples. 类 means category or type. 湯类 here means "the soup category" (the category which comprises soups) -- i.e. "soups", not "soup types". Borscht. ----- > 罗宋 may be another spelling of 吕宋 a placename 'Luzon' in the > Phillipines. One wonders if this is where Chinese first encountered > Russian 罗宋 is simply a transcription of "Russia". The similarity to 吕宋 is coincidental. ------ > ["鸡茸忌廉汤"] I would have translated this literally as 鸡 chicken 茸 > puree 忌廉 cream 汤 soup。 忌廉 is another rendering from the English > 'cream' or french 'crème'. However, chicken soup is usually made > with a chicken stock, rather pureed chicken, Cream of chicken. ----- > 海鲜 literally means 'fresh from the ocean' or 'ocean fresh' [...] 海鲜 Can be nicely translated as "fruits de mar" in this context. ----- > 是日例汤. The sense of 是 is in the classical sense 'this, that'. > Why they chose that translation, is anyone's guess. 是日 means “today” and 例 "regular, routine" in the current context. "是日例湯" is the idiomatic term for "soup of the day". ----- > ["厨师沙律"] Note that "沙律" is a Hong Kong/Cantonese style transcription. In Beijing, for example, it would be "沙拉". > 厨师 kitchen master, i.e. chef. 厨师 is closer to "cook" than "chef". ----- ----- Menu 2 > 扒 chops and cutlets 类 types. However, 扒 is also homophonous with > 耙 a type of rake, so one wonders if the translator had in mind a > pick axe of some sort... Using 扒 for steaks/cutlets in Cantonese goes way back (early 20th century?) but the exact etymology is unknown. A rack of lamb does look like a rake somewhat. ----- > 意大利香草羊扒 Lamb Chops with Italian Sweetgrass > [...] 香 fragrant 草 grass: xiang cao refers to sweetgrass, > or perhaps vanilla. More likely rosemary or mint. I would think "意大利" (Italian) here applies to the entire dish rather just "香草", since most of the other dishes in this category are named after places. ----- > 牛腩 is the brisket of beef A cut from the flank or belly, with the a sheet of ligament (I think) which is very tough and has to be stewed for a long time. Since the ligament is white in color, 牛腩 is also called 牛白腩 ("beef white belly"). ----- > 星加波 Singapore 星加_坡_ ----- ----- Menu 3 > ["三文治"] Another Hong Kong style transcription. In Beijing it would be 三明治. ----- > ["薄牛扒"] Probably London broil. ----- > ["扒芝士火腿三文治"] 扒 cutlet; 芝 sesame 士 soldier, private in the army : > Chinese rendering of 'Cheese'. 火 fire 腿 thigh : basically a roasted > joint like roast ham. The word 扒 seems to be entirely superfluous here. Probably a typo. While 芝士 means "cheese" and 芝麻 is "sesame"; 芝 by itself is a magical grass. The 火 ("fire") in 火腿 ("ham") is from the red color of the cured meat. It is nothing to do with roasting. ----- > 烟 smoke 肉 meat: smoked meat - smoked ham. Bacon. > ["(火腿,烟肉)餐肉蛋三文治"] (Ham, Smoked Ham) Luncheon Meat and Egg > Sandwich > 餐肉 may be a shortening for 午 midday 餐 meal 肉 : luncheon meat; ... the most famous brand of which is SPAM. The parentheses in the name are confusing. It is probably just "Ham, bacon or SPAM Sandwhich". ----- > ["生炒牛肉饭"] 生 raw, give birth 炒 fry [...] 生炒 is a particular style of Cantinese cooking that uses a Ketchup-like sauce. ----- > ["拿破仑炒意粉"] 拿 take in the hand, grasp 破 break open, destroy 仑 > human relationship : Napolean, Neapolitan, Napoli. 拿破仑 is the standard transcription for Napoleon [Bonaparte], _not_ Naples. The standard transcription for the latter is 那不勒斯. I wonder if the designer of the Chinese menu mistook one for the other. OTOH, the flaky puff pastry "Napolean" is sometimes called "Neapolitan" as well... > 炒 stirfry 意 idea, meaning, desire, wish : Abbreviation for > 意大利 Italy/Italian. 粉 powder abbreviation for 面粉 or rather > 麵粉 wheat flour made noodle type foodstuffs. Hence 意粉 refers > to italian pasta. In practice, "意粉" is used only for spaghetti/linguini, never other types of pasta. E.g., macaroni (elbows) are called 通心粉 (hollow pasta); (small) shells, 蜆殼粉 (clam shell pasta), etc. ----- > ["焗肉酱意粉"] Baked Spaghetti Bolognaise > 肉 meat 酱 sauce : bolognaise sauce [...] The standard spaghetti in tomato sauce with minced meat. I suppose few diners would take "Bolognaise" literally as the true _ragù_alla_bolognese_. Note that a lot of Hong Kong restaurateurs interpret tomato based pasta sauce as something that tastes like Campbell tomato soup. ----- > ["吉列猪扒饭"] 吉 prospitious, lucky. 列 to arrange, to line up, > row, file, series : may be a Chinese rendering of Chilli from > the homophone 激烈 ji lie = intense sharp fierce accute. 吉列 is actually a transcription for "cutlet/côtelette". ----- ----- Menu 4 > ["干炒牛河"] 干 is the simplified character for 幹 which has the > slang connotation seen in the menu for 'fuck', but my mild > mannered dictionary  says 'offend'. The other meaning of 干 > is dry with the traditional character being 乾. The literally meaning of 幹 is “to do/work”. > [...] dry stirfried without sauce As distinguished from "wet style stir fry", in which case the dish would simply be "牛肉炒河". Actually, neither style has sauce mixed in during the stir frying -- the sauce is added later. The "dry style" uses more oil(*) and less water and the pasta is less moist as a result. (*) Thus, a "dry style" dish is traditional priced slightly higher than its "wet style" counter part. ----- > ["上汤云吞"] 云 cloud 吞 swallowing : Wonton - a type of Chinese > ravioli which has a savoury meat filling wrapped in chinese egg > pasta made of wheat. It is boiled, and the loose folds of pasta > seem like 'clouds' being swallowed when eaten. Or: "(fillings) swallowed by clouds". Note that the word 吞 is used in the names of other dishes, e.g., 糯米吞鸡 (steamed whole chicken filled with sticky rice -- and don't ask me why it is not 鸡吞糯米.) 云吞 is sometimes written as 餛飩 (pronounced
in Mandarin), especially outside of Cantonese speaking areas. However, there is sufficient regional variation of the dumpling concept that so one might as well consider the two to two distinct dishes. Mixing egg into the flour when making the dough for the shells is a particular to Cantonese dumplings only. > ["上汤水饺"] 水 water 饺 dumpling. These are like wonton, > but made differently and in a soup base Note that "水饺" is a Cantonese dish and should not be confused with "饺子", aka "Peking Revioli". Traditionally, the difference between the Cantonese "云吞" and the Cantonese "水饺" is that the former has minced pork for filling and the latter has shrimp and bamboo shoots. The latter is also bigger. (The soup is always the same.) Nowadays they seem to be different only in size. ----- > ["牛腩捞河粉"] 捞 scoop up 捞 in this case is not “to scoop up” but to “to mix together”. The same character has two readings in Cantonese, [lau21] meaning “to scoop up” and [lou11] meaning "to mix together”. Only the first meaning exists in Mandarin. 捞X is boiled pasta X served on a platter and mixed with a sauce; as opposed to 汤X, pasta X served in a soup. > 河粉 rice pasta akin to tagliatelli A.k.a. "foon" in Chinatown menus. ----- > ["窝蛋牛肉粥"] 窝 nest 蛋 egg : may be the egg is whisked and > stirred in to the congee to form strands like the texture of > 燕窝 yanwo birds nest hence the 'nest'. 窝蛋 is a raw or slightly cooked egg, served whole (sans shell), suspended in the congee (or in the middle of a mound of rice, etc). Any stirring is to be done by the customer. With an egg in the middle, the surrounding congee/rice looks like a nest; hence the name. ----- > ["黑椒牛柳丝炒意粉"] 牛柳 beef slices 丝 strands 牛柳 is nominally beef tenderloin. However, the best and most common cut of beef used in Chinese style stir fry dishes is the flank steak. 丝: shreds. ----- > ["三丝炒公子面"] A typo here -- should be "公仔面". 子 and 仔 are homophonic in Mandarin but not in Cantonese. Since 公仔 is a Cantonese term not used in Mandarin, the mistake is a common one by non-Cantonese speakers. Evidently the designer of the Chinese menu is not Cantonese, even though the text of the menu uses a lot of Cantonese regional terms. (The entries are mostly Cantonse dishes and Hong Kong interpretations of European/American cooking.) ----- > ["干炒意面"] 意面 italian pasta I suspect 意面 ( in Mandarin) is a typo of 伊面 ( ), short for 伊府面, a kind of traditional noodle made with egg mixed with flour and then deep fried (not unlike the modern day instant noodles). When subsequently re-soaked and boiled or stir fried, the noodle puffs up slightly and gives a distinct texture. Also, "干(乾)烧伊面" is a traditional Cantonese dish. The story is that 伊府 ("House of Yi") is after 伊秉绶, a famous 18th century caligrapher. ----- ----- Menu 5 > 煲 earthenware pot with a cover usually and a handle, > 仔 diminutive， i.e. a small pot or small casserole with > a handle. 煲仔 is a Cantonese term, even though the same kind of clay pot is used everywhere in China. A clay pot dish is served in the pot, which is taken directly from the stove to the table. ----- > ["水煮"] 水煮 is a particular Sichuan cooking style that uses a very spicy broth. ----- > ["巴渝酸菜鱼"] Fish cooked with Sour Pickled Cabbage Bayu style > 巴渝 is a placename in Szechwan or Sichuan Actually, 巴 and 渝 are two different historical names of the area around Chongqing 重庆，the largest city in Sichuan. I think 酸菜 is more likely made from mustard green rather than from cabbage. ----- > ["鱼香茄子煲"] 鱼 fish 香 fragrant 茄子 aubergine, eggplant 鱼香 is a particular Sichuan cooking style that uses a spicy sauce that has sugar and vinegar in it. It probably started out as a specialty sauce for cooking fish, but eventually used on other things. There is no "fish" in the "Fish Fragrant" sauce. This page says that the sauce was invented only decades ago. http://www.sichuantour.com/custom/detail.asp?ID=4 ----- ----- Menu 6 > ["冻柠七"] 冻 cold, to freeze 柠 first character of 柠檬 "ning-meng" > 'lemon', 七 seven, first character of 7起 or 7-up. The Chinese (Hong Kong) name for Seven-Up is 七喜. 喜 ("happiness") is homophonic with 起 ("up") in Cantonese. > ["万宝路"] Marlboro (the US brand). ----- ----- Menu 7 > ["跟牛油餐包"] 跟 follow. 牛油 butter. 餐 dinner. 包 bag, wrap, bun > : short for 面包 or more properly 麵包 meaning 'bread'. 餐包 is dinner roll, usually the "egg twist" variety. I.e., dinner roll served with butter. ----- You might want to use "(phonetic) transcription" instead of "rendering" throughout. Tak
This page was created on Sunday 19th March 2006.
It was last modified on Thursday 23rd March 2006.