When promoting Taiwanese foods, how should dishes like pig’s blood cake (豬血糕), tofu pudding (豆花) and others best be translated?
In her research, Chen Tsai-ti (陳采體), an instructor in the Department of Translation and Interpretation Studies at Chang Jung Christian University in Tainan County, found that a multitude of English translations of Taiwanese snacks exist among Taiwanese and foreigners.
She is now suggesting that the government consider the issue from the point of view of foreign visitors to Taiwan and publish a reference book to provide them with clarity.
Pig’s blood cake has been voted the most disgusting food in the world on one English-language travel Web site, but it was also the dish used by Taiwanese chef Li Chia-chi (李佳其) when winning the prize as the best chef in Asia earlier this year.
Tsai found that in most English translations, the word gao (糕) is translated as “cake” or simply transcribed as “gao.”
Pig’s blood cake could easily give someone who does not know the snack the idea that it is a cake or pastry made from pig’s blood, which immediately makes the whole idea a lot less palatable, she said. This translation also surprises many people who like the snack, she added.
Chen has given a questionnaire to Taiwanese and foreigners and then interviewed them about the current translations of some of Taiwan’s most popular snacks, such as pig’s blood cake, steamed dumplings (小籠包), rice pudding (米糕), coffin bread (棺材板), Tainan du xiaoyue danzi noodles (度小月擔仔麵), tofu pudding, meat balls (肉圓), stewed minced pork on rice (肉燥飯) and bowl rice cake (碗粿).
Chen found that the greatest difference in opinion was over the Tainan specialty coffin bread, which Taiwanese felt would be best translated as deep fried coffin shaped sandwich, while most foreigners felt that the word “coffin” should not appear in the name of a food. Eighteen foreigners interviewed offered 13 different translations for this snack.
Chen said steamed dumplings, rice pudding, tofu pudding and meatballs were already -established translations that could serve as a reference since they were commonly used by foreigners, which highlights the importance of the assimilation principle in translation.
Chen said that for the Beijing Olympic Games, the Chinese government issued instructions for the translation of Chinese foods and she suggested that the Taiwanese government also issue a similar version for the public’s reference.
When making these translations, the focus should be on the end users, foreign visitors, and not on the view of Taiwanese in order to avoid taboos, she said, adding that if a dish includes pork, it should be clearly stated.
“The main point is that these dishes taste good, and appropriate translations are helpful in promoting Taiwanese food, since it allows foreign visitors to Taiwan to eat what they want,” she said.
Lost in translation:
Examples of how local delicacies are being called by different English names:
豬血糕 Zhu sie gao:
Pig blood gao; Black cake; Pig’s blood cake.
小籠包 Siao long bao / Xiaolongbao:
Small soup dumpling in steamer;
Steamed pork-filled dumpling;
米糕 Mi gao:
Sticky rice gao; Sticky rice cake; Sticky rice curd.
棺材板 Guan cai ban:
Deep-fried coffin-shaped sandwich;
Coffin sandwich; Coffin burger.
度小月擔仔麵 Dan zi mian:
Tainan noodles in soup; Tainan dan zi noodles;
Tainan carrying-pole noodles.
豆花 Dou hua:
Soy jelly; Tofu pudding; Tofu jelly.
肉圓 Rou yuan:
Meatball Taiwan-style; Taiwanese meatball;
Pork wrapped in corn.
碗粿 Wan gui:
Gui topped with pork; Bowl rice cake;
Tainan bowl pastry.
INFORMATION COMPILED BY STAFF REPORTER LIU WAN-CHUN
SPEEDING ELETRIC VEHICLES: Available without license requirements, the low-cost vehicles, especially if illicitly modified, can often reach a dangerous speed The government should crack down on illegal electric bicycles and scooters, the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation said on Friday, citing research on the potentially dangerous speed of the vehicles. Electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters have gained popularity as they do not require registration and riders do not need licenses, the foundation said, adding that as many as 40 percent of them can reach speeds exceeding the legal limit of 25kph for non-licensed two-wheelers. Some consumers also purchased legal electric vehicles and modified them to reach higher speeds, it said. “If the government does not step up efforts to confiscate these
‘RELIABLE PARTNER’: US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar praised the ‘Taiwan model,’ saying that the nation brought its spirit to its COVID-19 response The first memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation between the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the US Department of Health and Human Services was yesterday signed at the Centers for Disease Control in Taipei. The memorandum was signed between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US, by AIT Director Brent Christensen and Taiwan Council for US Affairs Chairperson Jen-ni Yang (楊珍妮). US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) witnessed the signing of the memorandum, designed to enhance the nations’
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday tweeted a welcome to Somaliland’s first representative to Taiwan, Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, who arrived on Friday. Mohamoud had “braved Chinese pressure” to take up his new post, Wu wrote. “The fact ‘sovereignty & friendship aren’t for sale’ deserves international recognition,” referring to a Somaliland media report earlier this month that Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi had rejected an offer by the Chinese government in exchange for ending its rapprochement with Taiwan. Wu also thanked the US National Security Council (NSC) for praising Taiwan-Somaliland ties. A council tweet on July 10 praised Taiwan
The Taipei City Government yesterday said that construction on the long-suspended Taipei Dome can resume immediately, after it approved a request by the project’s main contractor, Farglory Group. In a statement, the Taipei Construction Management Office said that after it on July 16 issued a new building permit, Farglory submitted revised design plans and an application to resume construction, which the office approved on Friday. Construction had been suspended on the dome, near the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Xinyi District (信義), for more than five years due to disagreements between the city and the company over the safety of some of