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Jun 11, 2008 10:07 AM

How to say "I'm allergic to peanuts" in Chinese

The Chowhound Team split this very useful linguistic tangent from the L.A. board.
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If you get to 888 by 10:30 or 10:45 there will be no line.

我花生,堅果敏感 -- aw doy faa sang, ging gwaw mun gum. [I am allergic to peanuts and nuts.]

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  1. Thanks! You are my savior! Hooray!

    aww doi fah sang ginh moon gun? Is that the correct pronunciation?

    15 Replies
    1. re: Diana

      It's got tones in it, so it's pretty hopeless to try and explain how to actually say it, but "aww doy fah sahng ghing gwaww munn gumm?" is closer.

      1. re: Das Ubergeek


        What dialect is this? Cantonese? It's definitley not Mandarin. It doesn't sound like anything I'm familiar with ... maybe it has something to do with the inflection ...

      2. re: Diana

        You should print this out on a card and show it. If it's a health related issue you shouldn't rely on your pronounciation.

        1. re: Diana

          Also what Ubergeek says can also mean I am sensitive to peanuts, not necessarily allergic to peanuts. It may not convey the urgency you want.

          1. re: PeterL

            You could also say:

            aw mm ho ji sik faa sang, ging gwaw.

            Mandarin, for ipsedixit: 我不可以吃花生,堅果 (wo bu ke yi chi hua sheng, jian guo)

            English, for everyone else: I cannot eat peanuts and nuts.

            1. re: PeterL

              This disappeared from the thread... you can also say "I cannot eat peanuts and nuts":

              Mandarin: 我不可以吃花生,堅果 (wo bu ke yi chi hua sheng, jian guo)
              Cantonese: 我唔可以食花生,堅果 (aw mm ho ji sik faa sang, ging gwaw)

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                Might also want to throw in a "ming gan" ... which literally means "allergy"

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  "ming gan" is just the mandarin version of "mun gum". It can mean sensitive or allergic depending on the context.

                  1. re: cecilia

                    Yes, I realize that.

                    I was just suggesting that adding "ming gan" to what Das has for "I cannot eat peanuts and nuts" would add extra oomph to the message of peanut allergy.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      For sure. Adding "mun gum" will allow them to sort of try to isolate the food from potentially touching peanuts and maybe prevent them from using peanut oil.

            2. re: Diana

              If you don't know how to pronounce Cantonese, I wouldn't even try to pronounce it. I speak Cantonese; with just a few incorrect tones, you can mangle that sentence beyond recognition. Also, it is possible that not all the staff members speak standard Cantonese. The best bet would be to print out the characters on a card and show it to the wait staff.

              Here is link that contains more phrases for you:

              1. re: raytamsgv

                Good find, raytamsgv. The "dak" in 我唔食得花生 (fourth character in the preceding "aw mm sik dak faa sang") lends a bit more urgency to the statement about not eating peanuts. (My original sentence literally said "I am not able to eat peanuts".

                And agree -- don't try to pronounce Cantonese if you are starting from scratch. Just show to the cart.

                And to the OP (diana) -- at 888, the cart ladies speak English pretty well.

                1. re: raytamsgv

                  I agree--even when words are carefully pronounced to non-speakers, they often can't get it right.. I would never trust a deadly allergy to phonetics. Print it out in big words and carry it with you.

                  1. re: chowser

                    I just printed out two copies!

              2. This is all so cool! Thanks, everyone. I guess I ahve to print out the characters!

                1. how would you say "i am allergic to shellfish" (shrimp, scallops, lobster, crab, clams, oysters)????

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: soupkitten


                    I'm not sure there is a good way to say "shellfish" in Chinese (either Cantonese or Mandarin). There very well might be a scientific term, but then most waiters wouldn't know the scientific term from you just saying "shellfish".

                    That said, a shellfish allergy is very much a different issue than peanut allergy, right? With shellfish, you could simply not order menu items with shrimp, lobster, etc. because it's obvious from just looking at the menu description whether shellfish is part of the dish.

                    With peanuts, it's not so obvious. Peanut oil, peanut flour, etc. are not main ingredients like shellfish ... so it's much more important to communicate this allegery.

                    Long response short ... just don't order anything with shellfish.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      oyster sauce, shrimp stock, seafood traces are not obvious or main ingredients that have made my husband very, very, very sick when he's ordered pretty benign-looking chicken dishes. in some places, whole fish dishes are cool, and in some, the "special house sauce" can contain seafood. since it makes sense for him to play it safe, it means i don't get to eat the food i want to, either! :) and i think everyone has had the pork and shrimp wonton subbed for the plain pork one at some point, hey, i'm sure 99/100 times nobody has to go to the hospital. . .

                      if there was a way to say "i am allergic to ---", it would be great-- i'd print a card that said "i am allergic to lobster, i am allergic to shrimp, i am allergic to oysters and oyster sauce. . ."

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        Ok, try this ...

                        "Wo boo nung tzee ___" = I cannot eat __

                        "Shrimp" = "sha" or "sha rung"

                        "Lobster" = "loong sha"

                        "Crab" = "pong shei"

                        "Scallops" = "dai tze"

                        "Oyster" = "gan bei"

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          awesome! i'm practicing right now! is there a term for "oyster sauce"?

                          1. re: soupkitten

                            There's different variations depending on the dish, but try this:

                            "how yo" = oyster sauce

                            So, for example, "how yo gai lan" would be Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              thanks for taking the time to tutor me, Ipsedixit, you've helped make my husband's dining experiences less fraught with peril--and my dining experiences less fraught with that same daggone kung pao chicken *again,* because we know for sure it won't make him sick! :)

                            2. re: soupkitten

                              Please note that ipsedixit's phonetic pronunciations are for Mandarin.

                              1. re: raytamsgv

                                yup i noted that. maybe i *should* get the characters and print out a card, like Diana did. hmm.

                            3. re: ipsedixit

                              English: I cannot eat _______
                              Mandarin: 我不能吃 _______ (wo bu neng chi)
                              Cantonese: 我唔能夠吃 _______ (aw mm neng gaau sik)

                              Mandarin is first, then Cantonese.

                              海鮮 (hai xian / hoi sin) is seafood
                              蝦 (xia / haa) is shrimp
                              龍蝦 (long xia / leung haa) is lobster
                              螃蟹 (pang xie / haai) / is crab
                              乾貝 (gan bei / jiu tsieu) are actually dried scallops, used in XO sauce.
                              蠔 (hao / ho) is oyster, and 蠔油 (hao you / ho jaau) is oyster sauce
                              蛤 (ge / gaap) is clam
                              蟶 / 旺菜 (cheng / wong tsoi) gets used for both mussels and razor-clams

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                D.U. --dh could not *believe* that you did this for us. he just kept looking at the sheet of paper i printed and exclaiming that he takes back everything bad he ever said about chowhounds, that he won't have to vomit for 12 hours straight anymore, and said to tell you thank you :-)

                                without any doubt, you have his and my eternal gratitude!

                                my last question, re: "海鮮 (hai xian / hoi sin) is seafood"-- does "seafood" in this case mean finned fish, eel, and squid as well? (he can eat these, so if it *does* mean every fishy-type thing, i will take it off the copy we'll take to restaurants! thanks so much again.

                                1. re: soupkitten

                                  Yes, "seafood" in this instance means the whole panoply of ocean (and lake) bound critters ... even things like abalone, geoduck, sea cucumbers etc.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    gotcha. thank you both for all of the wonderful help. i'm sure that other people will also find this info and use it to prevent serious allergy mishaps in restaurants everywhere. thank you thank you thank you.

                                  2. re: soupkitten

                                    Glad to help if it means your husband gets to eat better.

                                    English: I can eat _______
                                    Mandarin: 我能吃 _______ (wo neng chi)
                                    Cantonese: 我能夠吃 _______ (aw neng gaau sik)

                                    Fish: 魚 (yu / jieu)
                                    Eel: 鰻魚 (man yu / maan jieu)
                                    Squid: 魷魚 (you yu / jaau jieu)

                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                      D.U. you are a prince among chowhounds-- thanks to you and Ipsedixit, and Diana for allowing me to totally hijack the original thread. cheers. :)

                          2. re: soupkitten

                            A few years ago, we travelled to China with some friends, one of whom has a serious shellfish allergy. She asked a Chinese-speaking coworker for help, and the woman wrote out a card saying, essentially, "I am allergic to shrimp, scallops, lobster, crab, clams, oysters and similar things. If I eat them, I could die".

                            My friend showed that to the waiters everywhere we went. They all responded with gasps, often called over another waiter or the manager, and took very, very good care of her. It sounded kind of dramatic to us, but it sure got peoples' attention!

                            1. re: judybird

                              我不能吃蝦,龍蝦,貝,乾貝,XO油, 螃蟹,蛤,蠔, 等。 如果我吃這項,我可以死去! 請您小心。

                              I cannot eat shrimp, lobster, scallop, dried scallop, XO sauce, crab, clams, oysters, etc. If I eat them, I may die! Please be careful.

                              (I'm not currently exactly sober, so I may have @$#%ed this up -- someone else please edit as you see fit.)

                          3. Uber .. wouldn't it be wise to add 花生油 to the nut/peanut allergy list? I am not sure all restaurants would think immediately of their cooking oil as being "nutty."

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: k_d

                              True... if peanut oil is a problem, then "faa sang jaau" (Cantonese) or "hua sheng you" (Mandarin) is a good thing to add.

                            2. The original comment has been removed