Kimchee

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Apparently, the South Korean government has decided that kimchi 김치 should no longer be referred to just as pàocài 泡菜 ("pickled vegetables") in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, but should have its own name to distinguish it from other types of pickled vegetables.  (There's a November 17 news article about it here.)

The Koreans are very proud of kimchi, and it may be referred to as the Korean national dish.  Kimjang, the tradition of making and sharing kimchi that usually is done in winter, has recently been added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.

My brother Thomas, who served in the Marines during the Vietnam War and fought alongside Korean soldiers, told me he was amazed that, when the Koreans opened their K-rations, there was kimchee inside.  Thus it is obvious that kimchee is extremely important to the Koreans, and it is indeed different from Chinese fermented vegetables.  But, if it's no longer to be referred to as pàocài 泡菜 ("pickled vegetables") in Chinese, what to call it?

Usually the Chinese refer to foreign things however they jolly well please.  Niǔyuē 紐約 (lit., "button; knob; handle; wrench; turn" + "approximately; agreement; appointment", etc.) in Mandarin neither sounds like "New York" (it sounds much closer in Cantonese) nor does it mean what that name does, but that doesn't stop Chinese from calling the Big Apple that way.  It is interesting, however, that lately the South Koreans have been winning some battles with the Chinese over how to refer to things that mean a lot to them, even when the Chinese aren't very happy about making the requested (demanded) changes.

One of the biggest victories was getting the Chinese to accept Shǒu'ěr 首爾 as the Chinese way to refer to Seoul instead of Hànchéng 漢城 ("Han City").  Naturally, calling their capital "Han City" rankled, since "Han" is the name of the main Chinese ethnic group.  In contrast, Shǒu'ěr 首爾 both sounds like "Seoul" and has a felicitous, appropriate meaning (viz., "head [shǒudū 首都 means "capital"]) + "thus; so").

For kimchee, the Koreans have decided that the new Chinese name is going to be xīnqí 辛奇.  The Chinese are not accustomed to this and some people have complained that it doesn't make sense to them, since xīn 辛 is usually construed as meaning ("bitter; suffering; laborious") and qí 奇 (means "strange; odd; queer; rare").  As for the sound, although the qí 奇 part is close enough to the second syllable of "kimchee", the initial of the xīn 辛 part is pronounced as x-, s-, or z- in most Sinitic topolects that I know of.

Furthermore, it would seem that the word kimchee is derived from the pre-modern term chimchae 沉菜 (lit., "soaked vegetables"), so there is a ready-made, etymologically exact Sinographic written form available for use.  {If I'm wrong about this derivation, I hope that a Korean specialist will correct me.)  But perhaps the Koreans do not want the Chinese to be thinking of their national dish as "soaked / submerged vegetables")

Upon reflection, however, xīnqí 辛奇 may not be such a bad choice after all, since xīn 辛 is often used to describe the spicy/sour flavor of foods like kimchee.  For example, it may be seen on packages for Korean instant noodles.  Moreover, qí 奇 may be thought of  not merely as "strange; odd", etc., but also as "wonderful; marvelous; mysterious".  So maybe the person(s) who came up with xīnqí 辛奇 wanted to convey the idea that kimchee is spicy / sour and mystical, which is not far from how I think of this fantastic side dish.

[Thanks to Joyce H. Wu]

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69 Comments »

  1. Lane said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 9:26 am

    For those unaccustomed, the first exposure to kimchi can certainly be "strange, odd". I grew up in an overwhelmingly white suburb of Atlanta, but was close with the Korean boys across the street, and I will never forget how I could smell the family's kimchi from the sidewalk; exposed to a pretty limited palate at that point, I thought it smelled like something that should be called "strange bitterness".

  2. Victor Mair said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 9:56 am

    From a Japanese friend:

    I am glad that the Koreans are asserting their national icon kimchi 김치 by objecting to the Chinese use of pàocài 泡菜, because 泡菜 doesn't
    describe kimchi anywhere near. As a lover of Kimchi from way back, I am very glad that it will have a name closer to more accurate description.
    xīnqí 辛奇 doesn't sound exactly like kimchi, but denotative analyses of the characters you've done convince me it is much closer to the real thing.

  3. Kim said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 10:31 am

    "Furthermore, it would seem that the word kimchee is derived from the pre-modern term chimchae 沉菜 (lit., "soaked vegetables"), so there is a ready-made, etymologically exact Sinographic written form available for use.  {If I'm wrong about this derivation, I hope that a Korean specialist will correct me.)  But perhaps the Koreans do not want the Chinese to be thinking of their national dish as "soaked / submerged vegetables")"
    I speak Korean and I found one article from one of well-known Korean site. It dealt with almost the same context with this. It says "Kimchi" is Korean. (I mean it originated from a Korean region.) There are some words like "ji(지)" which derived from "di(디)" and now it is combined with other words so made different words. For example, there are "오이지-A kind of Kimchi, but something made with cucumber-(Cucumber+ji)[oiji]" or "석박지-I think that is one kind of Kimchi-[seokbakji]" Of course, there is just "지[ji]" By my experience, Korean people can understand when another people call Kimchi "ji" Another reason is that Kimchi is not written with Chinese characters in Korean dictionary. Every single word which originated from Chinese is written with the original Chinese characters.

    However, I guess there are some theories which argue that it comes from Chinese characters that you said "chimchae" because some dictionaries have written that it came from "chimchae"

    The point is it is Korean(that article says it is Korean), but there are still other opinions on that. If you want to read the original Korean article, you can send me an e-mail. I hope this helps.

  4. Simon P said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 10:48 am

    I think this is beyond ridiculous, myself. Governments trying to change a language is a bad idea from the start, and doing it to a foreign language is even more silly. Of course, the Chinese had it coming after demanding that westerners refer to Peking as "Beijing" and Canton as "Guangdong" .

  5. Kim said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 10:50 am

    Oh, I want to add a note. 석박지 is one kind of Kimchi. It is made with turnip/radish. (I was a little bit confused with another kind of Kimchi when I wrote the upper one.) That is a popular one, though. It is said to be derived from a dialect of HanGyeong-Do(which is a part of North Korea nowadays)

    Anyway, the same conclusion: Kimchi is Korean.

  6. Victor Mair said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 11:13 am

    From Bob Ramsey:

    You ask in this most interesting link if your etymology of the word kimchi is correct: "it would seem that the word kimchee is derived from the pre-modern term chimchae 沉菜 (lit., 'soaked vegetables'), so there is a ready-made, etymologically exact Sinographic written form available for use." And the answer is yes, that's right—with one little caveat: As far as I know, that Sinitic form was never used in China or anywhere else outside Korea. (Maybe you know better, and if so, please let me know!) And so, if I'm right (which I'm pretty sure I am), it means that Koreans simply made up a Chinese-style word, and that was probably because Chinese-character words were seen even then as more elegant and desirable than native vocabulary. (That's certainly the sociolinguistic import of Sinitic vocabulary today in both Korea and Japan, as you and I both well know. It's kind of like English and Americans using French words for food terms, isn't it?)

    And one more caution. That Wikipedia article you link to says that: "The term ji was used until the pre-modern terms chimchae (hanja: 沉菜, lit. soaked vegetables), dimchae, and timchae were adopted in the period of the Three Kingdoms of Korea." That statement (which is taken from a pretty unreliable Korean source) is unprofessional and problematic on so many levels. First of all, it's sort of on the right track in identifying ji as the earlier Korean word for pickles, but really not. What should have been said is that the earliest attested native word for pickles (first seen in texts from the 16th century) is tihi, which is where ji, the form used today, comes from (through regular phonological changes). And then: "the pre-modern terms chimchae (hanja: 沉菜, lit. soaked vegetables), dimchae, and timchae were adopted in the period of the Three Kingdoms of Korea." Huh? "terms"? These three variant readings were used in the Three Kingdoms period? That totally doesn't make any sense. And then there's the idea that the fake Sinitic name was used in the Three Kingdoms period. That's a highly suspect assertion. I haven't seen any reference to 沉菜 in materials referring to foodstuffs in the Three Kingdoms period. There are almost no Korean writings of any kind preserved from the Three Kingdoms period itself, which ended around 668. The oldest Korean history that has been preserved was compiled well after that, in 1145, and though that text might have some reference to Korean pickles, I haven't yet seen it. It may be there, but I'd like to know where. We need the citation. To tell you the truth, I kind of suspect that like so many other "facts" about ancient Korea–Korean nationalists are fond of ascribing virtually everything about native Korean culture to the Three Kingdoms period (or earlier—something Dangun came up with maybe?)–this "fact" also represents imaginary history. The source Wikipedia cites is just too sketchy to take seriously.

  7. JS said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 11:29 am

    Jongseong Park's pertinent comment (in response to a query from poster Kuiwon) on the Dynamic Stew thread of a while back is below:


    Kuiwon: Do you know of any other non-Sino-Korean Korean words (i.e., "pure" Korean) that originate from older pronunciations of Chinese characters? I know "Kimchi" is from 沈菜.

    There are plenty of such cases, though "kimchi" is a somewhat murky example. It is first attested as 딤ᄎᆡ timchoy and then a bit later as 팀ᄎᆡ thimchoy in 16th century texts (using the Yale romanization here since it is Middle Korean, with o representing the archaic vowel ㆍ). The theory is that these represented the then-current Sino-Korean pronunciation of 沈菜, which must be a local coinage since it was not used in this sense outside of Korea.

    The trouble is, 沈 is known to have been read as 팀 thim, but the reading 딤 tim is not attested for this character.

    In any case, it appears that both 딤ᄎᆡ timchoy and 팀ᄎᆡ thimchoy were in use in Middle Korean. Then, identified with the Sino-Korean word 沈菜, 팀ᄎᆡ thimchoy followed the regular development into Modern Korean 침채 chimchay [ʨʰimʨʰɛ], which is apparently an obscure term used in ancestor worship rituals (so obscure that it doesn't appear in most dictionaries). But the form 딤ᄎᆡ timchoy became 짐ᄎᆡ cimchoy, then 짐츼 cimchuy, then Modern 김치 kimchi.

    How to explain this? If the form 딤ᄎᆡ timchoy ever corresponded to the Sino-Korean word 沈菜 (it has been suggested that 딤 tim was an older reading of 沈, otherwise unattested), it may have been decoupled from the regular development of Sino-Korean pronunciation because it was no longer felt to be Sino-Korean, and was free to follow its own phonetic development. An alternative view is that 딤ᄎᆡ timchoy was the original Korean word, and the form 팀ᄎᆡ thimchoy came about because it was reinterpreted as the Sino-Korean 沈菜. What seems clear is that the original term for 김치 kimchi was associated with the Sino-Korean 沈菜 from early on, but it doesn't seem conclusive to me that 沈菜 is indeed the origin of the word."

  8. julie lee said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 1:15 pm

    Looks like kimchee has entered Euro-American cuisine. This morning, reading a restaurant review in the San Francisco Chronicle daily, I find that Mockingbird Restaurant in Oakland (next to Berkeley) has on its menu "crispy pork torchon patties ($12) spiked with kimchi, mustard greens salad, ginger and pickled carrots".
    (The torchon patties in the picture look like crabcakes. Torchon is a French word. It means "dishcloth, kitchen towel, etc." A recipe for torchon foie de gras says you roll up the liver mixture in a dishcloth, hang it up for a few days, then boil it, then slice it into patties.)

  9. Robert Ramsey said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 1:22 pm

    Great posting just now from JS. Jongseong Park is absolutely justified in being suspicious of the suggestion that 沈菜 is indeed the origin of the word. In a way, such an idea turns things upside down, because kimchi is not from Chinese. In my posting (actually posted by Victor), I meant only that the word was probably created, in Korea, with the intention that it should like a Chinese word. As Jongseong Park points out, the character 沈 never had, as far as we know, the unaspirated reading 딤. (Complicating the matter slightly, though, is that in Sejong's day prescriptive readings like 띰, 땀, 담, etc. were made up for it.) Still, even though 딤 is undoubtedly a ghost reading, the point remains that the word for kimchi was made up with the intention of giving it a Chinese-style cachet.

  10. julie lee said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 1:33 pm

    Kimchee cabbage and kimchee radish taste and look very much like Chinese paocai泡菜 ( pickled cabbage, or radish, carrots, etc.). However, I watched a Korean friend make kimchee cabbage. I think it's the same way as Chinese paocai 泡菜 is made (with raw cabbage, salt, chopped raw garlic and raw hot pepper) with one crucial difference. This Korean friend added a little bit of tiny salty pickled fish and its juice. You can get this pickled fish with its liquid in bottles at the Asian or Korean grocery.
    My mom made paocai at home, but I don't recall pickled fish.

  11. Stephan Stiller said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 1:52 pm

    Two notes for the other readers:
    1. 紐約 is (jyutping) nau2 joek3 (= IPA [nɐu˨˦ jœː˧k]) in Cantonese.
    2. Seoul is unusual in that it is an important city in Korea but doesn't have hanja/한자 associated with it in Sino-Korean writing.

    @Simon P:
    It is not unusual for governments to prescribe foreign renderings for certain political entities of theirs. From Germany:
    official terms (general)
    German Bundesländer
    That said, we know there is a political dimension in this particular case.

  12. maidhc said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 2:59 pm

    There are a lot of different kinds of kimchee. My wife used to shop at the local Korean store (now unfortunately closed), and there would be all these jars, labelled (if at all) only in Korean. The people who worked there didn't speak enough English to explain, so it was quite an adventure.

    The variety of kimchee was a plot point in Jack London's 1915 novel The Star Rover, available at Project Gutenberg. London had travelled to Korea and had picked up some knowledge of Korean culture.

    Kimchee has found a place in the Hawaiian barbecue restaurants that are ubiquitous on the US West Coast, but perhaps not so much elsewhere. And of course in the Korean-Mexican fusion cuisine that is diffusing out of LA. In a few decades it will be as American as sushi.

  13. Victor Mair said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 3:02 pm

    Bob Ramsey's term "ghost reading" (of a Chinese character) is worthy of further consideration.

  14. julie lee said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 3:57 pm

    There is also a wide range of Chinese paocai泡菜 "pickled vegetables", varying with the individual maker, the region, etc.

  15. David Morris said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 4:31 pm

    The name 'Seoul' has been used formally and exclusively only since 1945, though informally since 1882. Previous names were Wirye-seong (위례성; 慰禮城, Baekje era), Hanju (한주; 漢州, Silla era), Namgyeong (남경; 南京, Goryeo era), Hanseong (한성; 漢城, Baekje and Joseon era), Hanyang (한양; 漢陽, Joseon era), Gyeongseong (경성; 京城, colonial era). The 'Han' in three of those names refers to the Han River, which in turn has been called different names through history. 한 means 'one' in Korean, and I don't know if there is any connection with the 'han' ethnicity of China.

    On the other hand, an earlier form of 'Seoul' – 'Seorabeol' – was used for Gyeongju, the capital of Silla.

    (mostly from Wikipedia)

  16. julie lee said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 4:47 pm

    In one of these posts, someone said that Koreans have at least three names for Korea. In Chinese, there are also at least three names for Korea: (in pinyin-romanized Mandarin) Chaoxuan (or Chaoxian), Hanguo (literally, "Han Kingdom"), and Gaoli. All three are in common usage.

  17. Stephan Stiller said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 5:15 pm

    Isn't it interesting that the new Chinese exonym 首爾 (首尔) for Seoul would be pronounced 수이 [su.i] in Korean, which is different from the Korean name 서울 [sɔ.ul] of the capital.

    @ David Morris:
    한/하나 [han(a)] is the native Korean morpheme for the numeral 1. The Sino-Korean numeral 1 is 일 [il] (written "一" in Chinese characters). I think a connection to the 漢 (한, "Han") occurring in the Han river and some older names for Seoul is unlikely.

  18. Randy Alexander said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 5:35 pm

    I'm a bit perplexed by this as, while I've certainly heard 泡菜, in Northeast China it's usually called 辣白菜 (at least for the Chinese cabbage version).

  19. Stephan Stiller said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 6:05 pm

    An afterthought to the topic of exonyms: There seems to be a move towards present-day pronunciations in such geographical name translations, away from "historical" names. Mandarin does have a syllable (pinyin) "sou" (in different tones), but the (pinyin) "shou" from 首都 (shǒudū, capital) makes sense and is phonetically close enough: (pinyin) Shǒu'ěr is (IPA) [ʃ̺ɔ͡u.əɹ] ≈[ʂɔu.ɚ].

  20. Chris Waugh said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 8:11 pm

    I'm with Randy Alexander. I've always associated 泡菜 with Chinese-style pickled vegetables, coming in a wide range of regional variations. Every Korean restaurant I've been to here uses 辣白菜 for kimchee.

  21. julie lee said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 8:47 pm

    Randy Alexander, I'm sure you're right about la baicai辣白菜 as the name for Chinese pickled cabbage in your area. Chinese can have different names for the same food. American-English too. Peanuts are called "goobers" or "goober peas" in some U.S. states in the south. The dictionary says the word "goober" is of Bantu or Congo or some other African origin, probably brought here by slaves.

    Chris Waugh, I don't doubt that some Chinese call kimchee "la baicai辣白菜". My folks would just call it "kimchee" or "Hanguo paocai" (literally, "Korean pickled vegetables"). "Hanguo paocai" or "Hanguo la baicai" give proper credit to Korea. Frankly, I don't like the new term "xīnqí 辛奇" for kimchee.

  22. JS said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 10:36 pm

    What is interesting about the moves to Shǒu'ěr 首爾, xīnqí 辛奇, etc. is their assertion of these things/words as being uniquely Korean by virtue of being every bit as foreign, from the Chinese perspective, as, say, Niǔyuē 紐約 'New York' and bǐsà 比薩 'pizza'. That is, this is a conscious de-Sinification of Korean vocabulary vis-à-vis China and Chinese. By contrast, it is hard to imagine the Japanese preferring to Chin. Dōngjīng 東京 something like Tóukèyōu 頭客優 (or what have you)… perhaps Japan has occasionally found separation by re-phoneticizing Chinese words away from Sino-Japanese readings, as in the case of surname Wáng 王 to ワウ [in Katakana!] rather than おう, though I don't know the details here and this may be an uncharitable interpretation of the Japanese motivation…

  23. Victor Mair said,

    January 2, 2014 @ 11:04 pm

    Please note that the "Hanguo" meaning "(South) Korea" or the "(Republic of) Korea" is Hánguó 韓國 (= Hanguk 한국), not, god forbid, Hànguó 漢國.

    From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korea [under the "Etymology" section]):

    =====

    In South Korea, Korea as a whole is referred to as Hanguk (한국, [hanɡuːk], lit. "country of the Han"). The name references the Samhan—Ma, Jin, and Byeon—who preceded the Three Kingdoms in the southern and central end of the peninsula during the 1st centuries BC and AD. Although written in Hanja as 韓, 幹, or 刊, this Han has no relation to the Chinese place names or peoples who used those characters but was a phonetic transcription (OC: *Gar, MC Han[6] or Gan) of a native Korean word that seems to have had the meaning "big" or "great", particularly in reference to leaders. It has been tentatively linked with the title khan used by the nomads of Manchuria and Central Asia.

    =====

  24. julie lee said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 12:22 am

    JS,
    Yes, I can understand the Korean desire to de-Sinify names of things uniquely Korean. It's the same feeling I get about some Americanized names of things uniquely Chinese. For instance, the deep-fried long strips of dough called youtiao油条, a breakfast food in north China. In some Chinese restaurants here in California it appears in English as "Chinese doughnut", a deplorable description of the noble youtiao, though the youtiao dough is indeed somewhat similar to the yeast-raised doughnut dough. So yes, I can sympathize with the Korean desire for Chinese to call kimchee by the new name "xinqi辛奇" instead of "Hanguo (Korean) paocai泡菜", which is too Chinese and too, shall we say, unexciting.

  25. John said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 1:06 am

    韓 was also the name of a Chinese kingdom towards the end of the BC years.

  26. ohwilleke said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 2:58 am

    As a follow up to John's comment, it is interesting to note that Korea's national dish, Kimchee, is a post-Columbian invention. The spice-hot spice in Kimchee comes from a pepper that is native to Meso-America and probably arrived in Korea via trade sometime in the 17th century CE.

    Korea is not the only country with relatively late arrived signature foods. Kumra the sweet potato of the Maori in New Zealand is a pre-Columbian arrival from South America probably via Easter Island ca. 500-1000 CE. Ireland's famous potatoes are a post-Columbian New World plant, and all of the famous European chocolates are likewise post-Columbian New World transfers. The tea to which the English are addicted was imported by the Dutch India company from Southeast Asia starting around the 16th century. The coffee that Americans started drinking in droves in protest of the English tea trade, of course, originates in Ethiopia. And, the bananas that we envision African primates eating arrived in Africa via Austronesian seafarers probably from Borneo ca. 500 CE. Many of the staple foods of Southern India arrived from the African Sahel where they are native ca. 2500 BCE.

  27. ohwilleke said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 3:00 am

    One more observation. This move is being made unilaterally by the South Korean government, which is a pity. Both North Korea and South Korea are major Kimchee consumers and both conduct substantial trade with China. This issue would have been a fine one upon which the two Koreas could have found rare common cause that could have been used as a trust building exercise with the new North Korean regime. But, alas, it appears that this rare opportunity has been squandered.

  28. Jean-Michel said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 3:42 am

    @David Morris: The name 'Seoul' has been used formally and exclusively only since 1945, though informally since 1882. Previous names were Wirye-seong (위례성; 慰禮城, Baekje era), Hanju (한주; 漢州, Silla era), Namgyeong (남경; 南京, Goryeo era), Hanseong (한성; 漢城, Baekje and Joseon era), Hanyang (한양; 漢陽, Joseon era), Gyeongseong (경성; 京城, colonial era). The 'Han' in three of those names refers to the Han River, which in turn has been called different names through history. 한 means 'one' in Korean, and I don't know if there is any connection with the 'han' ethnicity of China.

    I did some online digging a few months ago to try to find an explanation of the 漢 in 漢城 and in the name of the river. I found some Korean sources (in English, since I'm handicapped by my total illiteracy in Korean) asserting it meant something like "big" or "great"—presumably the same word/morpheme that Victor Mair mentioned in his earlier post on the possible origin of the 韓 in 韓國. While looking for some elaboration on this claim, I eventually came across this article. The linked is actually concerned with the origin of 漢山 (today pronounced 한산 Hansan), one of the names for a capital of the Baekje Kingdom at or around the location of present-day Seoul. The writer doesn't draw any definite conclusion but seems inclined towards the "big/great" theory and claims that the eighth-century Nihon Shoki refers to 漢山 as 大城 ("big/great fortress").

    Of course it's possible that the later name 漢城 and that of the river are totally unrelated to 漢山, though it seems unlikely. Plus this article was written in 1974 and may well have been superseded by more recent studies, and in any case I know nothing of the author (Valerio Anselmo) and his reliability.

  29. Jean-Michel said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 3:59 am

    @ JS: perhaps Japan has occasionally found separation by re-phoneticizing Chinese words away from Sino-Japanese readings, as in the case of surname Wáng 王 to ワウ [in Katakana!] rather than おう, though I don't know the details here and this may be an uncharitable interpretation of the Japanese motivation…

    My understanding is that contemporary Chinese names are still written in kanji but pronounced to evoke the Mandarin readings. See, for example, this recent Asahi Shimbun article that writes "Xi Jinping" as "習近平," but gives the reading シー・ジンピン Shī Jinpin with the first reference. The main exceptions seem to be names of Hongkongers (which are normally written in katakana evoking the Cantonese pronunciation) and Chinese diaspora figures (e.g. Lee Kuan Yew = "リー・クアンユー" Rī Kuan'yū, not "李光耀"; Stephen Chu = "スティーブン・チュー" Sutībun Chū, not "朱棣文"). Perhaps someone fluent/literate in Japanese could tell me if I'm right or wrong and how consistently this applies.

  30. The suffocated said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 5:32 am

    @Chris Waugh

    It's completely opposite in Hong Kong: unless otherwise specified, 泡菜 usually refers to Kimchi, while other pickled vegees are usually called 醃菜 or 醬菜 (or 醃瓜/醬瓜 if melons are used).

    @JS

    Ironically, the de-Sinification of Korean vocabularies (including the renaming of 漢城 to 首爾) is perceived by many as an act to please the Chinese government (or the Mandarin-speaking Chinese), because Mandarin-like transliterations are adopted.

  31. Jean-Michel said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 6:21 am

    Ironically, the de-Sinification of Korean vocabularies (including the renaming of 漢城 to 首爾) is perceived by many as an act to please the Chinese government (or the Mandarin-speaking Chinese), because Mandarin-like transliterations are adopted.

    首爾 was designed for a Mandarin reading, but the renaming actually quite controversial in the mainland, where it was officially adopted 10 months after the change was announced (or should I say "requested"?) by the Seoul government. The objections were mostly a) resentment that a foreign government would try to dictate a change to the Chinese language and b) assertions that South Koreans were denying their Sinitic heritage by attempting to eliminate a name with that pesky 漢 character.

  32. Sohbet said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 7:40 am

    Kimchee has found a place in the Hawaiian barbecue restaurants that are ubiquitous on the US West Coast, but perhaps not so much elsewhere. And of course in the Korean-Mexican fusion cuisine that is diffusing out of LA. In a few decades it will be as American as sushi.

  33. Observation said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 8:12 am

    This is a rather superficial comment, to be sure, but Sunkist is 新奇士 in Hong Kong, so if we make the switch to 辛奇, I think I'll start associating kimchi with oranges… It's a rather 新奇 name, though!

    On a more serious (but not any more meaningful) note, I think translations like 首爾 and 辛奇 will only serve to increase the distance between Korea and China. In my opinion, 'Chinese-sounding' transliterations like 彭定康 (Chris Patten) and of course 梅維恆 (Victor Mair) should be encouraged. 首爾 and 辛奇 sound a bit 'Western' to my ears (especially the 爾 character)…

  34. flow said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 8:44 am

    given how fond the Koreans generally are of the syllables 김, 금 which are often written out with the sinograph 金 (exx.: surname 김 / 金; popular Mt Geumgangsan/Kumgangsan 금강산 / 金剛山; nori (laver, seaweed) 김 (with no clear etymology or sinograph, some say derived from surname 金); …) one wonders why the ROK government didn't choose 金 for the first character of 김치.

    金 already has an appropriate reading in both Korean and Chinese and a favorable, also appropriate meaning: 'gold(en); of golden color' (among others).

    then again, trying to come up with a favorable, fitting sinograph read 치, i realized that might be more difficult.

  35. Victor Mair said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 11:11 am

    @julie lee

    I often hear yóutiáo 油條 (lit., "oil-strip") being referred to as "Chinese crullers" or "fritters", also "(fried) bread sticks" or "deep-fried (twisted) dough sticks", but there are lots of other names in English:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youtiao

    No matter what you call them, yóutiáo are delicious, although — as their name implies — they're rather oily (actually, they are usually dripping with / drenched in oil). This gives rise to the metaphorical usage of yóutiáo as "slippery fellow".

    I especially like to eat them the traditional way, wrapped in a shāobǐng 燒餅 ("sesame seed flatcake; griddle cake sprinkled with sesame seed"), together with warm soy milk (I am highly allergic to unheated soy milk; I prefer the salty variety, not the sweet one), as shāobǐng yóutiáo 燒餅油條.

    I once had an amazing encounter with CHAI Ling, the famous Chinese dissident of Tiananmen Massacre fame, at a Chinese restaurant in Harvard Square. The whole incident is too complicated to relate in detail here, but it centered on my eating shāobǐng yóutiáo 燒餅油條 for breakfast that morning. She praised me to the skies for being like a real Chinese peasant for eating something so plain and simple as shāobǐng yóutiáo 燒餅油條.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chai_Ling

    BTW, the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre will take place on June 4 of this year. Be prepared for some fireworks.

    Oh, one last note on shāobǐng yóutiáo 燒餅油條. I recall that when I first went to Taiwan in 1970-72, most of the shops / stalls / stands selling them were run by Shandong people, many of whom were retired from Chiang Kai-shek's armies. When my mother-in-law and father-in-law spoke to them in raw Shandongese, I couldn't understand much of what they were saying, but the experience was quite pleasurable nonetheless.

  36. Victor Mair said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 11:16 am

    The marine referred to in the original post here just made a fascinating comment about the tradition of Scottish cattle raids on an earlier post:

    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=9237#comment-533939

  37. Victor Mair said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 11:23 am

    From Eugene Anderson, renowned Chinese food maven:

    Good grief, people are obsessed with this. Certainly the Koreans are obsessed with kimchi.

    Ohwilleke is only sort of right, however. Pickled cabbage and so forth is well attested as far back as anything complicated is in east Asia. Chiles just got added to an already-perfected thing. They probably substituted for more expensive stuff, possibly long pepper and/or brown pepper, as they did in most of east and southeast Asia (cf change of meaning of "lada" from long pepper to chile in Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia).

    There is a traditional pickle in the Auvergne in France that is just like kimchi. No possibility of contact, so far as I know. Just independent invention. Pickled cabbage of one sort or another is all over Eurasia. It uses lactic acid fermentation, which is interesting in itself….

  38. Bendrix said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 1:58 pm

    Victor Mair, I think what you're saying about the tradition of pickled vegetables could be said of lots of foods, like noodles, dumplings, breads, etc. But I don't think anyone would argue that makes a won ton any less Chinese.

  39. KWillets said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 2:29 pm

    On the city name issue, I learned about this Chinese city name change from a colleague a couple of weeks ago while drinking 安東 Soju:

    The area became known as Andong County (安東縣) in 1876. "安東" means "pacifying the east", reflecting the power projection that China had over Korea at the time.

    Dandong adopted its present name on 20 January 1965, which means “red east,” to avoid connotation of its previous name, which was considered imperialistic by some.

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    (Dandong is in Liaoning Province on the North Korean border. Andong Soju is from an unrelated province of the South.)

  40. Victor Mair said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 2:31 pm

    From Johan Elverskog:

    lthough I know nothing about the confusing – and highly politicized – posturing about “Han” (in all its permutations from the Altaic theory to imperial toponymic hegemony), there is one comment I can add about the final comment by “flow,” who recommends using 金 for “kim” in 김치.

    Many years ago I was talking to a Korean friend about kimchee and in my total ignorance asked if kimchee – the glorious national dish – was actually written with the monolithic surname?

    She laughed, said no, but did say that at some point when prices were really high the running joke was that 김치 should more appropriately be called 金치.

  41. Victor Mair said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

    @KWillets:

    Very interesting about Andong ("pacifying the east") being imperialistic.

    However, "turning the east red" is not much better.

  42. Jongseong Park said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 3:35 pm

    @David Morris: The name 'Seoul' has been used formally and exclusively only since 1945, though informally since 1882.

    Hendrick Hamel, the Dutchman who wrote "Hamel's Journal and a Description of the Kingdom of Korea, 1653-1666", uses the transcription Sior for Seoul: http://www.hendrick-hamel.henny-savenije.pe.kr/transcription/hamel1175a.htm

    The name Seoul must have been in informal use already by the 17th century.

  43. Victor Mair said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 4:10 pm

    @Bendrix

    Quite the contrary, "won ton" is very much Chinese, and I think that even Julie Lee would approve of this name.

    The Mandarin pronunciation is húntún / húntun 馄饨 / 餛飩, but the Cantonese pronunciation, from which we borrowed the English form, is wan4 tan1.

    Along the right side of this article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonton), you can see some of the many different ways of writing the name of this stuffed pasta item, which I've sometimes heard referred to lamely as "dumplings" or "ravioli", but "won ton" has definitely become a solid borrowing in English, so everyone can feel confident in using it.

    Húntún / wan4 tan1 is a very old Chinese word that is cognate with hùndùn 混沌 ("chaos"), which John Lagerwey long ago when we were graduate students together at Harvard used to refer to cleverly as "Humpty Dumpty".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundun

    See especially the section on Daoist texts. But compare the translation of Zhuang Zi, chapter 7, section 7 (the last section of that chapter) by Mair in his Wandering on the Way, which may be found here (on p. xxxix) and on p. 71 of the same book (available here):

    =======

    The emperor of the Southern Sea was Lickety, the emperor of the Northern Sea was Split, and the emperor of the Center was Wonton. Lickety and Split often met each other in the land of Wonton, and Wonton treated them very well. Wanting to repay Wonton’s kindness, Lickety and Split said, “All people have seven holes for seeing, hearing, eating, and breathing. Wonton alone lacks them. Let’s try boring some holes for him.” So every day they bored one hole, and on the seventh day Wonton died.

    =======

    See p. 16 of the following for a brief paragraph on this subject:

    Mair, Victor H. 1994. "Introduction and Notes for a Complete Translation of the Chuang Tzu." Sino-Platonic Papers 48. (pdf available free here: http://www.sino-platonic.org/)

    For decades I've wanted to write a paper on the cognation of the disyllabic words / morphemes húntún / húntun 馄饨 / 餛飩 ("won ton") and hùndùn 混沌 ("chaos"), together with a study of their origin, which I strongly suspect (am virtually certain) is not Sinitic, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. One of these days I will, since I already have lots of notes assembled for that purpose.

  44. W. Sun said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 5:57 pm

    Some commentators in Chinese blog-spheres have suggested 浸渍/浸漬(jingzi) as Chinese for Kimchi. Does it make sense? or is it a false etymology?

  45. julie lee said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 6:29 pm

    Since the word 漢 in Hancheng 漢城 (the Chinese name for Seoul) comes from the river Han 漢 in Korea and is thought to have meant "great" long ago, close to the Central Asian word "khan" (great), I am wondering whether the Chinese word han漢 meaning "Chinese or Han people" did not long ago, even before the Han dynasty , also mean "great", since there were ties between prehistoric China and Central Asia.

  46. Chris Waugh said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 6:35 pm

    @ohwilleke: The sweet potato is kumara, you were missing an a. And it was my understanding that the modern day kumara arrived after Eurpean contact and the pre-European kumara was considerably smaller. Nevertheless, it's a good example of how awesome the ancient Polynesian navigators were, ranging right across the Pacific as far as South America, then back as far southwest as New Zealand. And yes, it's a comparatively late-arriving "signature food" – later, even, than your 500 – 1000 CE. But then again, human settlement of New Zealand was really quite late, happening in the 13th century according to Michael King's "Penguin History of New Zealand".

  47. julie lee said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 6:47 pm

    @ ohwilleke
    "This move [to propose a new Chinese name for kimchee] is being made unilaterally by the South Korean government, which is a pity. …This issue would have been a fine one upon which the two Koreas could have found rare common cause …But, alas, it appears that this rare opportunity has been squandered."

    A delightful comment.

  48. Michael Rank said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 6:58 pm

    @Simon P:
    It is not unusual for governments to prescribe foreign renderings for certain political entities of theirs. From Germany:
    • official terms (general)

    Interesting that the Bundesregierung gives separate N and S Korean translations for its officials, reflecting different spellings used (and probably different words).
    http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/sid_D3F27D6D987E385606974AFFAF9E416C/DE/Infoservice/Terminologie/Bundesregierung/Uebersicht_node.html

  49. Bendrix said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 8:01 pm

    Victor Mair,

    No, I agree completely that won tons are Chinese. The impression I got from your earlier posts was that you were implying the Koreans' cultural claim to kimchee is iffy because pickled vegetable dishes exist throughout Asia. But I was saying the same could be said of many similar foods – that does not mean, however, that a country's claim to its food culture is invalid.

  50. KWillets said,

    January 3, 2014 @ 8:07 pm

    동치미 is highly related to 김치, and it seems to be derived from 冬沈 according to one article I skimmed (http://www.jbnews.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=97404).

  51. julie lee said,

    January 4, 2014 @ 2:45 am

    p.s. Han漢, the name of the Han dynasty, came to be an ethnonym for the Chinese people: The Han dynasty took its name from Hanzhong漢中, a prefecture in the Han River basin in present-day southern Shaanxi province. The founder of the dynasty came from that prefecture. If han漢 in pre-historic times meant "great", the Han River's name Hanshui 漢水 would mean "the great water".

  52. Ferrer said,

    January 5, 2014 @ 8:39 am

    Interesting to note that speaking of lactic acid fermentation of cabbage many dishes have been mentioned, even some from Auvergne in France, and yet nobody has written of Sauerkraut or choucrout. True, Sauerkraut is not spicy, but also highly iconic for Germans and Alsatian French. Actually, Germans are sometimes called Krauts by some foreigners across the Channel.

  53. Jongseong Park said,

    January 5, 2014 @ 1:32 pm

    @ohwilleke: As a follow up to John's comment, it is interesting to note that Korea's national dish, Kimchee, is a post-Columbian invention. The spice-hot spice in Kimchee comes from a pepper that is native to Meso-America and probably arrived in Korea via trade sometime in the 17th century CE.

    Chili pepper probably came to Korea slightly earlier, in the late 16th century. The Japanese who invaded Korea in 1592 and 1597 supposedly found chili pepper growing in Korea. The island of Kyushu in Japan had acquired chili pepper from Portuguese traders earlier, and thence it was introduced to Korea through trade. But chili pepper remained unknown to other parts of Japan, so ironically it was from Korea that it was introduced to the rest of Japan.

    Chili pepper was not actually used in Korean cuisine until much later on, around the 18th century. Before that, it was mainly considered an ornamental plant. Even when it began to be used in Korean cuisine, it was used sparingly because it was an expensive spice. Powdered chili pepper became an essential ingredient in kimchi only after the end of Japanese colonial rule in 1945.

    The most common type of kimchi today is made of napa cabbage, but this only became a popular ingredient of kimchi in the late 19th century. It was not easy to grow cabbages in Korea and it was only when napa cabbage was introduced from North China probably around the middle of the 19th century that it began to be used in kimchi. Recipes from the early 19th century mention several different types of kimchi, but none made from cabbages.

    So the kimchi we know today is a product of globalization, quite different from the kimchi of a hundred years ago, let alone that of a thousand years ago. The two essential ingredients, chili pepper and napa cabbage, are both relatively recent imports to Korea.

  54. Jongseong Park said,

    January 6, 2014 @ 7:12 am

    @Michael Rank: Interesting that the Bundesregierung gives separate N and S Korean translations for its officials, reflecting different spellings used (and probably different words).
    http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/sid_D3F27D6D987E385606974AFFAF9E416C/DE/Infoservice/Terminologie/Bundesregierung/Uebersicht_node.html

    Yes, these reflect different spellings, e.g. SK 연방 yeonbang and NK 련방 ryeonbang ("federation") as well as different word choices, e.g. SK 총리 chongni and NK 수상 susang ("prime minister"). It's similar to differences between different versions of English, e.g. Defence Secretary vs Secretary of Defense, Foreign Secretary vs Secretary of State.

    NK uses 도이췰란드 Doichwillandeu ("Deutschland") as the name for Germany, while SK uses 독일 Dogil from the Sino-Korean reading of 獨逸, an obsolete Japanese term for Germany (read doitsu in Japanese, an approximation of "deutsch"). 도이칠란트 Doichillanteu ("Deutschland") is also listed in the dictionary in SK, but this cumbersome form is rarely seen in use. I only remember seeing it used in a best-selling comic book series which started in the 1980s called 먼나라 이웃나라 Meon nara iut nara ("Distant countries, neighbouring countries") about different countries of the world. The author of the series had studied in West Germany, and may have felt that it was more proper to use the form that was closer to the native name. He also uses 에스파냐 Eseupanya ("España") rather than 스페인 Seupein ("Spain") for Spain; though both forms are correct, most Koreans use the latter.

    You can see different approaches to transcribing foreign words in NK 도이췰란드 Doichwillandeu vs SK 도이칠란트 Doichillanteu. For /tʃ/ before a consonant, which is phonotactically not allowed in Korean and therefore needs an epenthetic vowel, NK uses 취 chwi and SK uses 치 chi, with the NK version imitating the rounding present in most foreign /tʃ/ sounds. Meanwhile, the final fortition of /d/ to [t] in German is reflected in the SK transcription only.

  55. Milan said,

    January 6, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

    @ohwillike: It's not unusual for a national dish, and indeed whole national cuisines, to be rather young compared to the history of a people. The potato for example, an integral part of virtually every German meal, wasn't accepted in Germany until the late 18th century, when Frederick the Great promoted its cultivation in order to fight famines.

  56. Chris Kern said,

    January 6, 2014 @ 10:10 pm

    perhaps Japan has occasionally found separation by re-phoneticizing Chinese words away from Sino-Japanese readings, as in the case of surname Wáng 王 to ワウ [in Katakana!] rather than おう, though I don't know the details here and this may be an uncharitable interpretation of the Japanese motivation…

    I have never encountered this — ワウ (wau) was the way the reading of that character was written in the pre-1945 orthographic system, but in modern Japanese the surname is just written phonetically as ワン (often as furigana over the 王 character).

    Native Chinese seem to have the choice between using the standard sino-Japanese readings of their names or phonetic transcriptions of the Chinese readings; the latter is more common but I have seen native Chinese go with the former when they don't like the straight phonetic transcription's sound.

  57. JS said,

    January 7, 2014 @ 10:45 pm

    Thanks Chris Kern — both the wau and wan spellings were familiar to me but I wan't clear which was current. The choice available to Chinese in Japan re: naming is also interesting; I wonder whether Koreans or Japanese in China will ever end up preferring phonetically (more) accurate renderings of their names to simple character readings…

  58. Brian said,

    January 7, 2014 @ 11:29 pm

    paocai, suancai, paobaicai, etc. Kimchee, none of them would be possible without salt. Today there is a ubiquity of salt and preserved food in the Chinese diet from the basic preserved spicy radish with zhou in the morning, to the preserved spicy cabbage they all require salt and garlic as the usual seasonings and it seems to me that in the bronze age the salt around Lop Nur formed the basis of one part of the salt market in east asia. Victor, do you think it is reasonable to suggest that salted meat and salted preserved food products were an early connection between Xinjiang and the rest of China? It would certainly explain the ubiquity of la rou, and salted meats in traditional Chinese life as well as vinegar which if there were many grape vines around the tarim basin or near the desert that vinegar would be a major export commodity as well as salt giving us a ubiquity of pickled foods in the east and the west. There is an extraordinary similarity in the traditional Chinese methods and food preservation and the traditional eastern European especially Uralic preservation of cabbages and meat. Even the some of the names appear to have an isogloss linguistic affinity to the Indo-European word cole, kail, kai, dzail, kawel. It also seems to me that the "introduction of cabbage from Europe theories of the 16th century" might not be entirely correct as an older variety seems to be present in China very early and in Europe by 1000BCE- along with millet in Europe and China, hexaploid wheat, barley and other grain foods extremely early. I guess the real question I would like to ask is where do preserved veggies come from they seem very important across Eurasia, could these preserved foods have a common origin prior to 1000BCE? Maybe someone here knows….

  59. Victor Mair said,

    January 8, 2014 @ 9:18 am

    @Brian

    Great questions! I'll try to come up with some answers for you, so check back during the next few days.

  60. Victor Mair said,

    January 8, 2014 @ 5:47 pm

    From Tom Allsen:

    Brian's question is most suggestive; I did a quick survey of sauerkraut in standard reference works on food and discovered that the explanations for its origins are vague and varied; it came with the Tartars from China or it entered Europe during the Germanic migrations. This leads me to believe the issue has not been addressed systematically or on a continental scale. Clearly, however, fermenting vegetables is an important chapter in human culture history and needs to be studied cross-culturally since it is such a widespread technology. For a brief intro, see Harold McGee, "A Festive Ferment," Nature v 504 (Dec. 19-26, 2013) which sketches the great diversity of fermented products in the Old World. All this reminds me that Marston Bates and other biologists already pointed out in the 1950s that yeasts should be counted among our earliest and most important domesticates. And, as many products ferment naturally, including shredded cabbage, the age-old question of diffusion vs independent discovery is likely to be cloudy and hard to unravel.

  61. Victor Mair said,

    January 8, 2014 @ 6:08 pm

    From Gene Anderson:

    I don't know about salt from Xinjiang, but China had plenty of salt of its own: sea salt along the coast, salt springs in the center, and the famous salt wells of Sichuan, which were developed quite early and there was earlier use of salt springs there. But, sure, probably a trade existed along the frontier. Salt is THE way of preserving stuff, in a pre-refrigerator society.
    Connections to Europe: very obviously, the whole salt/lactic acid preserving technology was developed early and spread all over. I suppose it was independently developed in east and west but would have spread very rapidly, since salt-preserved foods are what people take on long journeys. The idea is to salt wet foods heavily, so that spoilage bacteria are killed but Lactobacillus is not–it loves salt. So then you get Lactobacillus fermentation, with the lactic acid (from lactose, etc.) preserving the food as much as the salt does. Salt cabbage preparations from sauerkraut to kimchi, pickles in general (turnips, cucumbers, etc.), cheese, salami and related sausages and meat products, soyfoods, sea foods, sourdough breads, and so forth all take advantage of this. (Yogurt is different: so much lactose, and therefore so much lactic acid, that no salt is needed.) There has not been much archaeological work on this; I'm sure the archaeologists could find lactic acid residues in old jars if they tried.
    I would also bet that Brian is right about early introduction of _Brassica oleracea_ to China, but I don't know. The bewildering, even dizzying, variety of cabbages in China makes it awfully hard to figure out what species is what.

  62. ben said,

    January 10, 2014 @ 8:36 pm

    I wonder how the folks who make Shin (辛) Ramyun feel about this — it seems like it could be good or bad for their brand. Certainly that is the strongest association I have with that character, outside of the context of heavenly stems and what not.

    (Incidentally I think Shin ramen with kimchi in it sold in China is labeled 辣白菜 rather than 泡菜.)

  63. Brian Page said,

    January 10, 2014 @ 11:20 pm

    Given what we just ate this evening Ben, your post reminds me of supper. :) There would be an easy way to solve that riddle, someone surely has tested the plant genomes for brassica and its relatives…. ??? I think nationalizing food product names is a protectionist move and you can see Italy doing it with cheeses and preserved meats, so why not see Korea do it with Kimchi? What other Korean foods are as widespread, imitated and unique? I think it would be safe to say that while virtually everyone knows where tofu, and tea originate, I think this mix of cabbage and the fermentation process started in one area, and am wondering how come that process and cabbage turn up all across Eurasia very early in the west by 1000BCE… We need to make some coleslaw out of the cabbage genome… in particular it would be fascinating to see when the standard da bai cai大白菜 B.Rapa Sinesis, and other cubbage, koles, kai (12-13th cent. English) Brassica O. species separated. Victor do you know any plant pathologists, archaeobotanists who could untangle that or direct us to sources which have? Please send my best to both Tom and Gene.

  64. Julien said,

    January 11, 2014 @ 9:39 am

    I will vote anytime in favour of 沉菜 as opposition to the very strange 辛奇, but the fact is, kimchi is either called 辣白菜 (if made from Chinese cabbage, bak choi) or 辣萝卜 (if made from radish). Quite often, 韩式 is added in front to insist on the origin. So what the heck? And shouldn't Korea focus on the terrible anglicisms in its own language instead of fighting about minor issues in a foreign language?

  65. HJ Park said,

    January 12, 2014 @ 2:43 am

    Well, since Koreans are now encouraged to use 베이징Beijing instead of 북경Book Gyeong (the Korean way of reading 北京),
    I hardly find it unreasonable that the Korean Gov't ask a foreign country to call its traditional dish by an appropriate name.

    As for North Korea being brought on in this matter: tensions are running high here in South Korea, and I don't think there would be a single politician risking being associated with North Korea at the moment.

  66. Victor Mair said,

    January 13, 2014 @ 11:03 am

    We mentioned the Cantonese pronunciation of the Chinese transcription of "New York" above. This blogpost has a number of other Cantonese-English English-Cantonese transcriptions, esp. of food items, that may be of interest to readers of this thread:

    http://hongkongandcantonese.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/englishchinese-terms-connected-to-cantonese/

  67. Anonymous said,

    January 14, 2014 @ 10:25 am

    紐約 sounds much closer to the English pronunciation in Hokkien: liu2 iok.

  68. hanmeng said,

    January 15, 2014 @ 10:55 pm

    This sounds pretty prescriptivist to me–telling me what I am allowed to call something. What's the next step? Paying a licensing fee to the Korean government whenever I dare to make something I call Kimchee®? Oh, and I damn well better make it the right way.

  69. Victor Mair said,

    January 20, 2014 @ 5:56 pm

    From Benjamin Barrett to the American Dialect Society list serve on Jan. 20, 2014:

    =======

    In "The Art of Fermentation" (2012, p. 23), Sandor Ellix Katz quotes "Analects of Confucius":

    Confucius "would not eat a food without its proper jiang," …

    He is citing someone else, Huang. I find the quote "would not eat a food without its proper fermented sauce" in a couple of quotes on Google as well.

    Other Google hits note that this is from book 10, chapter 8, verse 3 of the Analects (http://ctext.org/analects/xiang-dang). The relevant part is: 不得其醬. The word in question is 醬, which is translated there as just "sauce." Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E9%85%B1) says the same. (It is the first character in 醤油, soy sauce.)

    http://park11.wakwak.com/~kitai/Kitai_Shoyu/MAME/reference-1d.html, however, says that in "Rites of Zhou" (周禮), 醬 is thought to have been a liquid flavoring made by mixing meat and grain mold (麹, kouji (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspergillus_oryzae)), then adding alcohol and allowing to ferment.

    Katz also quotes William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, who cite "Bencao gangmu" (本草綱目):

    "Jiang is like a military general who directs and can control the poison in food. It is just like a general controlling the evil elements in the population."

    Googling on jiang fermented each in quotes yields 200K+ hits, including yan-jiang, jiang-gua and jiang-sun. It seems we have a treasure trove of fermented jiang words in English.

    I'm sure he provides the proper citations for Huang and Shurtleff/Aoyagi and I would like to explore more jiangs (Katz uses the plural), but I have to go get oysters now.

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