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Jo-Ann

Chinese shorthand?

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Jo-Ann

I ordered a dish at a Chinese restaurant -- Zha cai rou si --- pickled vegetable with shredded pork.

The 'cai' 菜 was written 才. I've seen this before with other words. Is this just an easy way to write something, -----rather than going to all the strokes needed for 'vegetable'?

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Yuchi

Yes

I don't know all of them for sure, but I do know that some of them use

几 instead of 鸡

alot less strokes.

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bhchao
The 'cai' 菜 was written 才

才does not mean vegetable though. To me, that is either an ignorant or lazy way to write vegetable just because the pronunciation sounds similar.

If the restaurant owners tried to say 炸才肉絲 using the correct tone for 才, that would sound very weird.

I would boycott that restaurant and doubt its authenticity if the Chinese owners can't even write the food items in their own language correctly. 8)

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Jo-Ann

Oh- no--- the restaurant is authentic, believe me. Their food is the real stuff. I got this dish off their Chinese menu. I know the dish and I know the characters and what 才 actually means. The menu itself has the proper characters. I just wondered if some places use this technique to make it easier for themselves -- especially if they are in a hurry. I've seen 'qi' for 'seven' used in place of 'qi' for something else, also. That example was in Denver. The 'cai' was in NJ.

The 几 for 鸡 shows that this might be common practice.

I just find it interesting that this is used. Makes sense if you are rushed and if it is used often enough, then the kitchen must understand.

Actually, it sounds smart to me.

I guess not much different than writing 'tho' for 'though' --- when it could be 'tough' or' 'thought'. Its sounding and placement in a sentence gives the clue.

BTW -- the dish was excellent!

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xiaoxiajenny

Zha cai rou si --榨菜肉丝

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bhchao
Zha cai rou si --榨菜肉丝

You are right. I was thinking fried. 榨菜肉絲

才is a bad 'substitute' for 菜 though.

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Quest

Restaurant people need to write fast to take orders. I guess after years using the wrong substitutes.....

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sunpixy

It's not that you have to write wrong characters to write fast... :wall

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Jo-Ann

Well, I guess as long as I get my loved 榨菜肉丝, I don't mind how they write it! I can barely make out most of those fast written characters. I'm stuck in the stage that can only read nicely printed characters. The 才 stood clearly out, so I knew what he was trying to do. The 丝 / 絲 was another matter altogether! That scribble was a doozy! But as long as the kitchen can read it, I am fine!

And since they do it in other places, I guess there is an accepted kind of shorthand language.

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skylee

Other shorthand I have used/seen -

O茶 = 檸檬茶 [in HK]

G肉三明治 = 雞肉三明治 [saw this at a Starbuck in Taiwan]

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Quest

Was 才 printed on the menu? or did you just see the waiter write 才。

It's not that you have to write wrong characters to write fast...

Pretend you were the waiter/ress, and I said, "給我來個宮保雞丁,一個龍井蝦仁,清蒸桂花魚 ,椒鹽排骨 ,金菇炒肥牛, 火腩大鱔煲 ,麻婆豆腐 ,紅燒鮑魚,再來個椰子煲雞湯 。

I hope now you could appreciate the use of substitutes....

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bhchao
The menu itself has the proper characters.

Ah, I thought you were referring to 才 already written on the menu, instead of a waiter scribbling it down on a notepad. Although it is the wrong character for vegetable, a waiter doing that would be more acceptable because only he and the kitchen staff will see what he wrote.

However if the owners printed or wrote 才 on the menu, that would be quite scary because the menu is what the customer sees and it reflects the professionalism of the business.

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Jo-Ann

Yes --- 'cai' was correct on the menu. It was a take out order and the 才 was on the written slip accompanying the dishes I ordered. I like to try to read the waiters writings, and the 才 just jumped out at me.

Quest -- Whew! That would be a lot of strokes! Even simplified, there would be a lot of writing. I'm sure there is menu writing understood just by waiters and chefs. Hence the 才 and 几 for 鸡 .

BTW -- I'll take one of each dish you listed, please! Would you explain the steamed fish? 清蒸桂花魚? I get translations of 'gui hua' as both 'sweet-scented osmanthus' and 'sweet olive'.

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Harpoon

kind of stupid. seems like the chinese are screaming for a phonetic alphabet and using characters phonetically, defeating their purpose.

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Tsunku

I see this a lot too (in China) at the restaurants I go to. Those waiters have to write down thousands of orders a day, very very quickly. It is just a shorthand, and doesn't say anything about intelligence or laziness. We do the same thing in English, right? (b/c for because, sth. for something ... you get the idea). I wouldn't say it is really "scrambling for a phonetic alphabet", because it only really works in context. If you're a cook, looking at a receipt, and you see 几 or 才 instead of 鸡 or 菜, you're not going to get confused, because it is fairly obvious what the waiter is talking about.

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skylee

hear hear :clap

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roddy

Agreed, but watch out, because it's a short step from

you're not going to get confused, because it is fairly obvious what the waiter is talking about.

to

And so there's really no need for me to learn tones

:wink:

Roddy

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39degN

I guess it's not 才, but

it used to be a simplified version of 菜.

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