No more ‘chicken without sex life’ in Beijing

March 14th, 2012 - 11:05 am ICT by IANS  

Beijing, March 14 (IANS) Eating out in Beijing has always been confusing for foreigners. Many have complained about dishes that on being translated to English read “chicken without sex life” or “red burned lion head”. But that confusion will soon be over with the government’s translation of 3,000 traditional food items.

Sometimes excited but mostly confused, embarrassed or even terrified, many foreigners’ complaints about mistranslations of Chinese dishes are often valid.

“Chicken without sex life” means tender young chicken, and “red burned lion head” is just pork ball in brown sauce, according to Xinhua.

But such experiences in Beijing’s eateries will soon be history.

The municipal office of foreign affairs has published a book of English translations of Chinese dishes, which aims to help restaurants avoid bizarre translations, in a bid to bridge the culture gap with foreign travellers.

The municipal government had published a similar list before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and recommended it to hotels across the capital.

“The latest book is an updated version of the 2008 pamphlet. It provides the names of main dishes of famous Chinese cuisines in plain English,” an official said.

“Restaurants are encouraged to use the proposed translations, but it will not be compulsory,” he said.

However, coming up with precise translations is always a daunting task, as some Chinese culinary techniques have no English-language equivalent.

The translators, after conducting a study of Chinese restaurants in English-speaking countries, divided the food names into four categories — ingredients, cooking method, taste and name of a person or a place.

The book has become one of the most discussed topics on, China’s most popular microblogging site, with over 200,000 tweets.

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