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Jan Söhlke sent in this photograph taken in a shop in Vienna:

An "Anti-Mund-Schuessel" ("anti-mouth-bowl") is strange enough in German, but we can't blame it entirely on the translator, whether machine or human, because the Chinese is odd too.

fǎnkǒu wǎn 反口碗 does literally mean "anti-mouth-bowl"

N.B.:  fǎn 反 — "anti-; counter-; rebel; revolt; turn over; on the contrary; instead") and kǒu 口 means "mouth; opening; orifice", etc.

People who write fǎnkǒu wǎn 反口碗 (27,200 ghits) may be doing so as a variant of fānkǒu wǎn 翻口碗 (152,000 ghits), meaning "bowl with everted rim", i.e., wǎnkǒu wài fān 碗口外翻.  Note that fānkǒu 翻口 ("opening turned outward") is a common term for describing a particular shape of pottery.

Another way to refer to this type of bowl in Chinese would be chǎngkǒu wǎn 敞口碗 ("flare-rimmed bowl") (27,000 ghits).

Jan notes that the same shop also sells "anti-rim bowls" but the picture isn't as good.  If someone tells us what the Chinese is for that, perhaps we can take it up again later.  For the moment, I think we've had enough of "anti-X-bowls", especially because they make me think of the "three-anti" and "five-anti" campaigns of the early fifties.

[Thanks to Heidi Krohne, Fangyi Cheng, Jing Wen, Gerald Mair, and Wei Shao]


  1. Ray said,

    March 2, 2015 @ 9:28 am

    can fǎn also mean "against"? so that "against the mouth" describes a rim shape that fits nicely against the mouth (when drinking soup or eating rice)? rather than describing its shape, fǎnkǒu could be describing its use…

  2. Mark Mandel said,

    March 3, 2015 @ 2:14 am

    And since "anti-" can be glossed as "against" in a different sense, that bit of polysemy ("against" = 'anti' vs. "against" = 'touching') could be at the root of all of this.

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