Seven flavors

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Jichang Lulu reports that an eating establishment in London has chosen the name qī wèi 柒味 ("seven flavors").  This comes via Yuan Chan on Twitter:

For "qī wèi 柒味", they surely meant "seven flavors", but — as Yuan Chan points out — in Cantonese that comes across as sapor pudendi virilis.  Cf. "The perils of '7' and '9' in Cantonese" (9/28/16).

She adds:  "There is more than one Chinese language. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise."

Bravo, Yuan Chan, for speaking the truth!  Cantonese is not a "mere dialect of Mandarin".

Lulu comments in hastily composed Latin:

…dulcem pudendi daps saporem iamne virilis an elaborat? (Cf. Hor. C. 3.1)

"doesn't now the banquet create/provide/give the sweet smell/taste of the male pudendum?"

A play on the Damocles allusion in Horace's Ode 3.1, where “Sicilian dainties will not force a delicious relish to that man, over whose impious neck the naked sword hangs” in one translation.

There is indeed a "Seveni Bar & Restaurant 柒味" in London, where they clearly were oblivious of what cat1 mei6  柒味 means in Cantonese.



  1. Chaak said,

    August 20, 2018 @ 7:20 pm

    柒 is pronounced cat6 instead of cat1 here.

    I believe most native speakers (at least the younger generation) will not understand this as "flavour of male genitals" though. The character 柒 (also written as ) in 柒味 is related to its adjective sense, which describes someone who makes a fool of oneself, or an action, look, or clothing style that is dumb and embarrassing. This adjectival usage is way more common than its literally meaning of male genitals.

    The name of this restaurant is an excellent example of something that is 充滿柒味 (filled with the smell of embarrassment). entry for 柒/ cat6:柒

  2. Victor Mair said,

    August 20, 2018 @ 7:31 pm

    If cat1 –> cat6 is what I've heard referred to as a "changed tone", should it be marked? We don't mark such changes in Mandarin.

  3. Jerry Friedman said,

    August 20, 2018 @ 10:56 pm

    Hijack: "…the owners… aren't and don't understand Cantonese" is a fine example of a zeugma or syllepsis or something.

  4. Jonathan Smith said,

    August 21, 2018 @ 12:11 am

    not a changed tone; just two words 'seven' Tone 1 vs. 'dick/lame' Tone 6 which might both be written "柒". the internets say the latter word "俗寫為「門」字裡加個「七」字"

  5. Mango said,

    August 21, 2018 @ 3:39 am

    The name of the restaurant immediately made me think of the Japanese condiment shichimi 七味, which consists of, well, seven flavours. But I somehow doubt that Chinese restaurant wanted to name itself after a Japanese pepper mixture?

  6. chris said,

    August 21, 2018 @ 5:58 pm

    Not directly related, but I have seen packages of "cock flavored soup mix" in grocery stores. With an actual picture of a cock — the kind with feathers and a beak, of course.

    Lots of words double as off-color slang. Even more so if you're reading them in a different language than they were written in!

  7. Chas Belov said,

    August 22, 2018 @ 11:43 am

    Why would a restaurant use 柒 in place of 七? It's not as if anyone has anything to gain by forging their awning.

    That's a funny image of a Cantonese speaker living in Japan and encountering shichimi 七味 in a supermarket.

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