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Bad Chinese

2003-07-14 03:56:31.496683+00 by meuon 8 comments

I'm starting to think they do this on purpose. Fu Kim Buffet could be Jimmy Buffet's half Chinese son, and he owns a restuarant.. or if Mr. Kim had taste, he would pick another name. In reality, everyone in Fort Knox Kentucky tells everyone about it.. and they give directions to everything in relation to this place. Food: Pseudo-Chinese Buffet. Advertising: American Style.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2003-07-14 15:12:45.614847+00 by: ebradway

On a recent trip to Florida, I stopped in a Chinese Buffet with my daughter (it was her choice over fast food - who am I to argue). This was in Apalachacola, Florida - a place as far from Disney World as you can get in that state - still an Oyster fishing and lumber town (lots of pine trees). I had to ask for steamed rice from the kitchen because they only had fried on the buffet and the waitress was absolutely stunned when I asked for chopsticks. It was the kind of place that specializes in large quantities of fried rice and sweet-and-sour meat o' the day. Ethnic food in small towns is interesting. One of these days, I'm going to get someone who speaks Mandarin to teach me how to order the really good stuff from the kitchen.

#Comment made: 2003-07-14 15:42:48.625157+00 by: Dan Lyke

At a guess: You may mean Cantonese. Yes, Mandarin is the more widely spoken language, but Cantonese has broader distribution outside of China thanks to the Portugese and the English colonizations. Of course I'm told Mandarin has less tones, so it's easier for the foreigner to learn.

I'm still working on it, but I'd also guess that being able to write it, which will get you both the Cantonese and the Mandarin audiences, would be nearly as effective.

#Comment made: 2003-07-14 16:06:51.882099+00 by: Johnny

There is a chinese buffet-style restaurant in Montreal that's called "Restaurant Ki San Fu", which translates phonetically in french as "The restaurant that doesn't give a shit". Business is booming enough for the place to advertise on TV. Go figger.

#Comment made: 2003-07-14 20:41:15.046083+00 by: other_todd

Dan: Yes, I have personally observed the phenomenon of (Chinese) patrons writing their order for the (Chinese) staff because they couldn't understand each other if they talked. And, yeah, for immigration reasons most of the Chinese in this country is Cantonese.

P.S. "Mandarin" is not really politically correct anymore, especially since the term is in no way of Chinese origin! I mostly call it putonghua (pu-tong-wah), which is what the Chinese government wants you to call it. (It means "common language," more or less.) Unfortunately this is a bit of a political problem too OUTSIDE mainland China - particularly in Taiwan, which speaks it but refuses to endorse anything the mainland government says or does, for obvious reasons. (They call the same sounds "guo yu," "national speech.")

You can find a nice discussion of this and other really good stuff in the book Speaking of Chinese, by Raymond and Margaret Chang. (It's not a book for learning Chinese - it's a book about the history of the language.)

Meuon, I was going to put in what the four characters on the sign actually said, but the link to that photo is broken and I so can't zoom in enough.

#Comment made: 2003-07-14 21:20:19.286943+00 by: meuon

Note sure how that happened: http://www.downloadalife.com//...age=ds030073&mode=a&scheme=light

Will get the bigger pics.. Zooming in, it looks like the Kanji that comes in every "Chinese Restuarant Kit, Deluxe, 1 each" - But if you have better meanings, that would be fun.

#Comment made: 2003-07-15 13:06:01.34006+00 by: other_todd

Oh, this one's easy. The last two characters are on half the restaurants in town. They're usually in the other order, but that's okay. The third character means a "tower" or "large building," but I'm told to translate it as "inn" when I see it used on restaurant signs. The final character's a good one to know if/when you go back to HK, Dan: It means "liquor." Together they say something like "tavern." It's a pretty common restaurant designation and should not be taken too literally.

The first two mean "wealth" (or riches) and "gold" (or money, or metal). These characters are pronounced "fu" and "gam" ("kim" isn't uncommon) so the sign is not just a bad joke. "Gam" is also one of the surname characters - and a very common one, probably a lot of Kims in this country have this character for a last name. So, yeah, it could be someone's name. Both are possible: You decide whether you want it to be the Golden Riches Tavern or just (Mr.) Rich Gold's Tavern.

#Comment made: 2003-07-15 14:51:30.661107+00 by: meuon

Wow. Thanks, very kewl interpretation service!

#Comment made: 2003-07-15 18:46:25.496403+00 by: Anita Rowland

to begin your own study of what chinese restaurants signs say literally, and what they really might mean by it, see other todd's project: