December 09, 2007

Stir-fried Wikipedia, with pimento

Knowing how I love to wikichet, my boss Kevin shared a little anecdote from China back in July:

I kid you not, “wikipedia” actually was the English translation for one of the dishes at a Chinese restaurant I just ate at in Beijing. Apparently, this restaurant believes that a wikipedia is some kind of mushroom, because there were two pages of the menu devoted to mushroom-focused dishes, and wikipedia seemed to be sprinkled liberally throughout.

He pointed out the restaurant’s site, but as it’s in Chinese it proved unhelpful, and I never got around to posting the story.  Now via Boing Boing I find that another dude made the same discovery–and this time he brought a camera.  Turns out that “wikipedia” goes great with everything from BBQ eel to bean curd.

In other funky Asian/English language news:

  • My photographer friend Clare is dating a guy from Okinawa, and he points out that the now-ubiquitous term “bokeh” (lens blur) refers not just generally to fuzziness in Japanese, but also Alzheimer’s disease in particular. The usage is apparently insulting.
  • From China comes the amusingly (and unintentionally) bizarre Benign Girl. [Via]
Posted by John Nack at 11:34 PM on December 09, 2007


  • Charles — 1:09 AM on December 10, 2007

    “boke” has lots of uses in Japanese, all of them vaguely meaning “stupidity” or “confusion” or “dementia.” For example, “jisaboke” means literally time-difference (jisa) dementia (boke) or “Jet Lag.”

  • John Dowdell — 12:33 PM on December 10, 2007

    Looks like somebody nailed it in the BoingBoing comments… Wikipedia was cited in the Google search results for the two characters:
    Wikipedia was one of the few domains I found consistently blocked in the Peoples Republic of China, along with Blogspot, LiveJournal, and AOL. If the menu’s translator couldn’t confirm the link, they might have thought the domain name was the translation.
    Google Translation is doing good work with Chinese sites, but I didn’t see mushrooms cited there.
    The restaurants in the Back Lakes area are great… lots of regionalism, country foods. I never did try the “Double-Boiled Snake and Turtle”, though:
    Someone has posted some nice photos of the area, though:

  • Hugh — 8:13 AM on April 07, 2011

    This is so typical of automated translation tools. That’s why I always tell my colleagues not to reply on these tools 100%. They’re best only used as a guide, but according to this Chinese restaurant, probable never at all. The best way to get something translated if it’s really important is probably by using translation companies. Language professionals wouldn’t allow these kind of mistakes to happen.

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