Saturday, September 1, 2007

No more 'burnt lion's head'; Beijing cleans up menus for Olympics

BEIJING (AP) - Hungry visitors to next summer's Beijing Olympics won't have to struggle to decipher bizarre English mistranslations on restaurant menus.
Xinhua News Agency says the Beijing Tourism Bureau has released a list with thousands of proposed names for dishes and drinks, designed to replace confusing and sometimes ridiculous translations on menus. Foreigners are often stumped by dish names such as virgin chicken (a young chicken dish) or burnt lion's head (Chinese-style pork meatballs).
Other garbled names include the temple explodes the chicken cube (kung pao chicken) or steamed crap (steamed carp).
Xinhua notes these translations either scare or embarrass foreign customers and may cause misunderstanding about Chinese dietary habits.
It's the latest effort among Beijing Olympics organizers to clean up the city and ensure the best image is presented to the hundreds of thousands of visitors expected next summer.
Etiquette campaigns are afoot to stamp out bad manners like jumping ahead in line, spitting, littering and reckless driving. The revised menu names are part of an effort to ban unintelligible English, known as "Chinglish," that abounds on signs everywhere.
A team set up by the Beijing Municipal Foreign Affairs Office and Beijing Tourism Bureau has been working on the menu names for more than a year, Xinhua said. Translators developed names for dishes based on one of four categories: ingredients, cooking method, taste or the name of a person or place.
For example, a dish with mushrooms and duck feet will be listed as simply "Mushroom-Duck's Foot." Other proposed names include "Fish Filets in Hot Chili Oil" and "Crispy Chicken." "Mapo Tofu," a tofu dish, derives its name from a woman named Mapo.
Once a final decision is made on the list of names, they will be used in restaurants across China, Xinhua said.

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