Dogfooding

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From Alex Wang:

I have through observation of my wechat via other people's moments and articles seen a noticeable uptick in the use of adding "-ing" to characters.

I was wondering if it's a fad or something inherently clumsy in the construction if one were to use Chinese so  they use the English suffix "-ing" instead.

Recently I had to write a speech to be translated into Chinese and I wanted to use the expression "dogfooding".

Eating your own dog food, also called dogfooding, occurs when an organization uses its own product. This can be a way for an organization to test its products in real-world usage. Hence dogfooding can act as quality control, and eventually a kind of testimonial advertising. Once in the market, dogfooding demonstrates confidence in the developers' own product

Source

So in English it is easy to add -ing to the noun "dogfood" and many other nouns as well.

We can express this idea in Mandarin too:

eating your own dog food

chī zìjǐ de gǒuliáng

吃自己的狗粮

Source

But it no longer has the succinctness and catchiness of "dogfooding".

To express the present progressive / continuous tense, participle, and gerund, the suffix -ing has indeed become a favorite borrowing of an English grammatical morpheme directly into Mandarin.  Here's a typical example

Mother: Qǐng guānmén 請關門 ("Please close the door.")

Child: I am guāning ("I'm closing it").

Readings



17 Comments

  1. Thaomas said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 10:58 am

    Without context, I'd have guessed "dogfooding" meant being reduced to eating dogfood.

  2. Martha said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 11:20 am

    I thought at first it meant "behaving like dog food," which didn't make sense, so my second thought was that it meant making dog food. I'd never heard "eating your own dog food" before.

  3. Jonathan Badger said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 11:55 am

    Just be clear, the "dogfooding" term is quite common but only in the context of software. For example, Microsoft uses its own products (Office, Windows) internally. When companies don't, that can be a small scandal if known. Back in the 1990s, news broke that IBM was mostly using Microsoft Word internally rather than their own word processing software, and that wasn't a good look.

  4. Chris Button said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 1:20 pm

    Japanese has the handy 事 "koto" for that purpose.

  5. cameron said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 2:04 pm

    I think the term "eating our own dogfood" originally came out of Microsoft. I first heard the term in the 90s. Circa '97, I'd guess. The original context was the idea that developers within Microsoft supposedly used the same development tools that they sold to the public. In other words, it wasn't so much that they used Microsoft Office internally at Microsoft, but that the teams that were building the Microsoft Office suite of products, and other Microsoft commercial apps, were using the same Integrated Development Environments and all of the same ancillary tools that J. Random Programmer could buy for their own development projects.

    Microsoft used this term as part of the marketing for the development tools, not for Office. I'm sure the marketing people responsible for selling Office would never have countenanced referring to the product as "dogfood". The audience for the marketing effort for the programming languages and associated tools was quite different.

  6. Ellen K. said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 2:24 pm

    That doesn't explain the origin of the term. A curious term since we would not expect people at dog food companies to eat their own product. Serve it to their dogs, yes; eat it, no.

    I was curious about the origin of the term, because it seems such an odd term. Wikipedia does suggest that the computer related usage goes back to Microsoft, mentioning an internal email in 1988 using the term. But that doesn't explain why that term.

    It also mentions a pet food company president who would supposedly eat a can of the dog food at shareholder meanings. I can imagine a stunt like that being the ultimate origin of the phrase.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eating_your_own_dog_food

  7. Dan said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 4:03 pm

    Yeah, I've heard the phrase (in the computer industry) for years, and yeah, it doesn't really make a lot of sense, but people say it. (Maybe the idea is that your product should be so awesome that if it was dog food, even humans would be willing to eat it?)

    Ironically, using the English suffix "-ing" in Chinese is an example of NOT dogfooding; if they were eating their own dog food they'd use a Chinese morpheme instead of using the competing product…

  8. rpsms said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 4:38 pm

    There is an apocryphal story that, according to google books, shows up circa 1955 that may actually be the origin of this. I recall hearing the story word of mouth in the 70s.

    Basic plot points:

    Dog food is not selling well. Company meeting where the boss and the marketing team etc. are all trying to figure out why it doesn't sell, since they do everything right. Janitor overhears, raises his hand and says "The dog's just don't like it."

  9. Gregory Kusnick said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 5:15 pm

    "Dogfooding" at Microsoft wasn't just about development tools. I recall the term being used in connection with the initial rollout of Exchange to the entire company as the primary internal email platform. If I'm remembering right, Brian Valentine (mentioned in the Wikipedia article) was in charge of that effort.

  10. Ellen K. said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 6:02 pm

    Typo correction to my earlier post. "…sharholding meetings" (not "meanings").

  11. alex said,

    January 31, 2020 @ 10:26 am

    I also noticed that ing words are used more often as replacements during conversations.

    For example I hear many women say Wo yao qu shopping. or Wo xiawu qu shopping.

  12. Nat said,

    January 31, 2020 @ 4:16 pm

    Everyone loves the -ing form! Well, French and German speakers do, at least. Who knows, it might just be the English language's greatest contribution to human communication

  13. Peter Taylor said,

    February 1, 2020 @ 9:58 am

    -ing is popular in Spanish, too. To pick some of the most common examples: a lot of Spaniards would be surprised to learn that footing (meaning jogging) isn't a true loan-word, and some also believe that puenting (bungee jumping, from puente, meaning bridge) is an English word. There's a chain of betting shops called Juegging (from juego, game).

  14. Michael Watts said,

    February 1, 2020 @ 3:12 pm

    So in English it is easy to add -ing to the noun "dogfood" and many other nouns as well.

    More accurately, it's just as impossible as you'd expect to add -ing to the noun "dogfood" or to any other noun; what's easy is to derive the nouns into verbs, at which point you can inflect them with -ing in the normal way.

  15. Rachael Churchill said,

    February 1, 2020 @ 3:40 pm

    When I was working in software 10 years ago, the origin of the phrase I heard was about a vacuum cleaner salesman who was so confident in his product that he would dump a can of dog food onto people's carpets and promise to eat it if the vacuum cleaner didn't pick it up. But if that's not well known, maybe it's not correct.

  16. Andrew Usher said,

    February 2, 2020 @ 12:04 pm

    Michael Watts:
    While that is the grammatical pattern, here I think 'dogfooding' has been drived immediately from the noun 'dog food', because I can't think of any other use for the verb. I suppose you could postulate there's an unconscious grammar reclassifying it as a verb for this purpose, though.

    k_over_hbarc at yahoo.com

  17. Ellen K. said,

    February 2, 2020 @ 2:55 pm

    Seems to me there doesn't have to be actual use of the word as a verb for it to still, none-the-less, be a verbing of the noun and then using the verb in gerund form. Seems to me it's still a gerund, even if it doesn't (generally) get used as a verb.

    And Google says "dogfooded" is out there, though not common (158 hits).

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