Mind your PPs and QQs

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Photograph of a menu board outside a Chinese restaurant:

(From an anonymous contributor)

This menu is meant to be read from top to bottom.  In that orientation, there are two dishes on the advertisement:  zhūdù jī 猪肚鸡 ("chicken stir-fried with pork belly") and yēzǐ jī 椰子鸡 ("coconut chicken").  However, if one reads from left to right (the default orientation in the PRC), then the three words become zhū yē 猪椰 ("pig-coconut"),dùzi 肚子 ("belly"), and  jījī 鸡鸡 ("cock").

I think that a lot of people, upon seeing the last item, would burst into laughter or at least snigger, since jījī 鸡鸡 ("cock") is kid's slang for "penis; prick; dick; dicky; pee-pee; wee-wee; willie / willy; pecker; wiener; weenie; front butt; ding dong; fagina; bird; Schmeckle…" (I'm not trying to be exhaustive here — there must be countless terms for the male member, just for little boys).

For those who wish to explore the Sinitic vocabulary for "penis" more fully, here's a lexicon of terms that range from the classical and literary to written vernacular and a host of topolectal expressions, many of which stretch the boundaries of the Sinographic writing system.

Oh, and here's a Map of Chinese dialectal equivalents for yīnjīng / yīnjìng 陰莖 (“penis; male genitalia”).

Selected readings



  1. Terpomo said,

    February 13, 2022 @ 6:26 pm

    I could be unusual but not all the translations you cited refer to the same thing, at least in my idiolect.

  2. Philip Taylor said,

    February 13, 2022 @ 6:26 pm

    Somewhat confused — whilst I recognise most of your "countless terms for the male member", in my idiolect (and, I very much suspect, in my topolect) "pee-pee" and "wee-wee" refer to urine, not to the penis.

  3. Jonathan Smith said,

    February 13, 2022 @ 8:02 pm

    Ji1ji1 is not just kid's slang, though by all rights ought to be :D or we could say cultural skittishness surrounding sex often results in such "kid's-words-for-all"
    "Front butt" LOL is this a thing in English; it looks like it could be a gloss on the again classically prudish Chinese qian2pi4gu 前屁股
    also zhu1du3 pork tripe

  4. John Swindle said,

    February 14, 2022 @ 12:26 am

    The spacing almost forces the silly reading. The columns are close together, the rows a little farther apart.

  5. Terpomo said,

    February 14, 2022 @ 12:47 am

    Another note: when a woman has one, is it called a hen?

  6. Kate Bunting said,

    February 14, 2022 @ 5:26 am

    'Cock' is also an old word for a (water) tap; nothing to do with birds.

  7. Rodger C said,

    February 14, 2022 @ 10:41 am

    Philip, that's a rhetorical trope: the patient for the agent. It must have a Greek name.

  8. Pete Tsayolo said,

    February 14, 2022 @ 2:36 pm

    @Kate Bunting:
    Ah, so the "wiener" meaning is from "tap" rather than "rooster", because water comes out of it? That totally makes sense and why have I never thought of that.
    Unless you meant that the "tap" meaning has "nothing to do with birds". In that case, why does German Hahn mean "rooster" and "tap" (Wiktionary)?

  9. Calvin said,

    February 14, 2022 @ 8:53 pm

    Not the focal point of this post, but 猪肚 IS NOT pork belly! It is the stomach/maw of a pig.

    The pork belly is called 五花肉 (five-flower meat — supposedly referring to the texture of the layered fat), 猪腩 (pork belly), or 五花腩. The latter two are more common in Cantonese.

    Similarly, 鱼肚 (fish bladder), 牛肚 (beef tripe) are not the meat part of the animal.

    Remember that when ordering from Chinese menu, if offals are not your thing.

  10. Chas Belov said,

    February 15, 2022 @ 12:00 am

    Followed the "Map of Chinese dialectal equivalents for yīnjīng / yīnjìng 陰莖 ('penis; male genitalia')" link and was surprised to see so many regions/difference topolects within Hong Kong alone:

    Hong Kong
    Hong Kong (San Tin Weitou)
    Hong Kong (Kam Tin Weitou)
    Hong Kong (Ting Kok)
    Hong Kong (Tung Ping Chau)

  11. Philip Taylor said,

    February 15, 2022 @ 3:34 am

    Calvin — I am interested in your "if offals are not your thing". For me, a native speaker of <Br.E>, that would have to be expressed as "if offal is not your thing", "offal" not being a count noun. But if it were expressed by an American, I would expect "if variety meats are not your thing". So now I cannot guess from where you come — can you assist, please ?

  12. Alexander Browne said,

    February 15, 2022 @ 8:50 am

    Philip Taylor: I can't speak to your mass/count noun question, but to this American I'd label "variety meats" as dated/humorous and say either "organ meats" or "offal". That term, along with lots of puns with "awful" has become a lot more common in recent years as it's become a trendy* food topic (among certain groups at least).

    * The caveat is I am vegetarian, so I don't really go looking for this kind of thing.

  13. Philip Taylor said,

    February 15, 2022 @ 9:33 am

    Ah, interesting — I was unaware that "variety meats" had fallen by the wayside. I was vaguely aware of "organ meats", but had not realised that Americans had also adopted "offal". Wonderful news — we may yet end up speaking the same language

  14. John Swindle said,

    February 16, 2022 @ 6:17 pm

    That would be offal.

  15. Chas Belov said,

    February 17, 2022 @ 12:22 am

    I natively speak American English and I would say "If offal is not your thing…"

  16. B.Ma said,

    February 17, 2022 @ 11:25 am

    @Philip Taylor

    I would guess that Calvin comes from Hong Kong based on his comments on other posts.

    His final sentence would be more grammatical if he had said "Remember [this] when ordering from [a] Chinese menu" or "Remember [this] when ordering from Chinese menu[s]", which in conjunction with saying "offals" hints at his English not being fully native and, at least to me, is typical of HK people who have otherwise great English.

  17. Hilário de Sousa said,

    February 19, 2022 @ 6:45 pm

    @ Chas Belov re: Hong Kong
    Cantonese is not indigenous to Hong Kong (n.b. I use the term 'Cantonese' quite narrowly).
    The others are the indigenous Sinitic varieties of Hong Kong:
    Waitou is Yue (Dongguan Yue is of the same type).
    Ting Kok and Tung Ping Chau are somewhat in between Yue and Hakka.
    And there is also Hong Kong Hakka.
    I guess these are their sources:

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