A Korean restaurateur, trying to make his menu more accessible for foreign customers, came up with bewildering English translations of some dishes.
1. 동태 찌게 [dong’tae jjigae: dynamic stew]
dongtae 동태(凍太) or "frozen pollack" (a kind of fish) was misinterpreted as the homonym 動態 and translated as "dynamic"; “jjigae” means a hot pot.
2. yuk'hoe 육회(肉膾) or "minced raw beef" was treated as the homonym 六回 and translated as "six times"
3. gom 곰 ("a thick broth made of cooked meat") + tang 탕 (汤) or "soup" (i.e., "broth-soup", a beef soup that has been boiled for a long time [usually more than 3-4 hours] and served with rice) became "bear thang", because gom is homophonous (okay, homographic) with the Korean word for "bear" (there is no Chinese character for this morpheme)
Summary notes on gom 곰:
a. a Korean verb that means "to boil for a long time"
b. a Korean noun meaning "bear"; if they used the Sinitic morpheme xióng 熊, it would be pronounced "ung" in Korean, but the Korean word 곰 gom is preferred
In chart form:
|Korean dishes||meaning||Romanization *||Homonym||Google Translate 10/24/2013||Mistranslation (menu)|
|동태 (凍太)||Frozen pollack||dong-tae (RR)
|動態: (the enemy’s) movement||Dynamics||Dynamics|
|동태(凍太) 찌개||Frozen pollack stew||dong-tae-jji-gae (RR)
tongt’ae tchigae (MR)
|Dynamic stew||Dynamic stew|
|육회 (肉膾)||Korean-style raw beef||yu-koe (RR)
|곰탕||Beef-bone soup||gom-tang (RR)
|곰 gom = bear
탕 tang = soup
|Oxtail soup||Bear thang (typo of tang)|
*Romanization: Revised Romanization of Korean (RR), McCune-Reischauer (MR)
The above are examples of faulty English translations of Korean dishes. It seems that restaurant owners favor Google Translate to create English versions of menu items, resulting in weird translations such as 동태찌개 as "dynamic stew". Although Google Translate often offers grouped synonyms and prioritization by frequency, it does not reliably do this to every word in Korean. "동태," for example, yields only one translation, "dynamics", in Google Translate. The South Korean government wants to clarify errors in English-language descriptions of Korean dishes and is currently working on a uniform standard for the wording of Korean dishes to facilitate the globalization of Korean food.
[Hat tip Hiroshi Kumamoto; thanks to Haewon Cho, Bill Hannas, Daniel Sou, and Minju Choi]