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Food abbreviations in non-English speaking countries?

chowser Sep 10, 2011 01:18 PM

The thread about "sammies" make me realize I know what people are talking about when they abbreviate most English words. But, what foods in other countries are abbreviated, eg. do Italians eat pannie? Do the French have coqcog for dinner? It must be difficult for non-native speakers to pick up the colloquial terms.

  1. Veggo Sep 10, 2011 01:51 PM

    In Mexico, food names are not abbreviated. The only Mexican word I can think of that is routinely abbreviated is Popo, short for the volcano Popocatepetl, and they abbreviate it only because they are unsure how to spell it, as was I.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Veggo
      chowser Sep 10, 2011 02:17 PM

      I can't think of any foods in Taiwanese that are abbreviated but that could just be my family. I wonder if abbreviations are more typically English. I can't think of any in French or Italian that I've learned.

      1. re: chowser
        ipsedixit Sep 11, 2011 01:48 PM

        Some (not me) would say that the entire Taiwanese language is an abbreviation -- be it for food or not.

        1. re: ipsedixit
          chowser Sep 11, 2011 04:02 PM

          I don't know Chinese but I know I can't understand Cantonese or Mandarin, though I know Taiwanese. Because of my parents' generation, I think I grew up w/ more Japanese phrases than Mandarin.

      2. re: Veggo
        paulj Sep 11, 2011 12:22 PM

        But there are plenty of diminuatives in Mexican food names
        tortilla - derived from torta
        carnitas - little meats
        taquito - little taco
        burrito - from burro
        antojitoas - little whims

        and cute names like
        tortas ahogadas - drowned sandwiches

        what are the different names for sandwiches in Spanish:
        sándwich (wtihout trying to approximate the English pronunciation)
        bocadillo (little bite)
        bikini (a particular Catalan type)

        1. re: paulj
          Veggo Sep 11, 2011 12:58 PM

          Nice list. And I will carefully add, diminutives in spanish are never pejorative.

          1. re: Veggo
            DeppityDawg Sep 14, 2011 07:49 AM

            I will carefully point out that the following diminutive suffixes in Spanish are often pejorative: -ajo, -ejo, -ucho, -uelo/-zuelo. [As usual, not used in all regions and not always with the same effect in all words.] They can appear with food words, e.g. "migaja", but as chowser points out, these are extended forms, not abbreviations.

            I can think of a couple abbreviated food words in Spanish: choripán, champis, cheve. Strange, they all start with ‹ch›…

            1. re: DeppityDawg
              paulj Sep 14, 2011 08:47 AM

              Salchipapas - a portmanteau of 'sausage' and 'potato' (fried hotdog and french fries)

              1. re: paulj
                DeppityDawg Sep 14, 2011 05:35 PM

                I'd rather have tostilocos.

              2. re: DeppityDawg
                paulj Sep 14, 2011 11:04 PM

                I looked up choripan, and one of the first entries was
                Rachael and Daisy Martinez heat up the kitchen with this Latin take on a sausage and pepper sammy"

            2. re: paulj
              chowser Sep 11, 2011 03:57 PM

              In Italian, too, you can make a diminutive, being bad, or being large by adding ending, not just for food. That's a descriptive addition, not an abbreviation. I don't remember it being done in French but I haven't taken French in 30 some years.

          2. linguafood Sep 10, 2011 02:17 PM

            The only thing I can come up with, which is an actual abbreviation (as opposed to the diminutives to which you seem to be referring), is Kartoffelpü = Kartoffelpüree = mashed potatoes.

            Surely, there are more. I'll try to think of something else....

            1 Reply
            1. re: linguafood
              chowser Sep 11, 2011 03:59 PM

              I'm wondering if there aren't many which is why no one has come up with food abbreviations.

            2. sunshine842 Sep 11, 2011 01:00 PM

              the only ones I can think of off-hand in French are resto for restaurant (not cutesy, used ALL the time by everyone), aperos for aperitifs (cocktails and snacks), McDo for McDonald's (which is omnipresent). Coca for Coca-Cola is pretty much the norm across the Continent, as is Coca Light and Coca Zero.

              They'll have p'tit dej instead of petit dejeuner (breakfast), dej instead of dejeuner (lunch), and wish you a Bon Ap (bon appetit) if they know you well.

              All food *related*, but I can't think of any specific food terms that are truncated.

              20 Replies
              1. re: sunshine842
                chowser Sep 11, 2011 03:59 PM

                Interesting--I've never heard those french abbreviations. Do they abbreviate cabernet sauvignon like Americans to cab? Zinfandel to zin?

                1. re: chowser
                  sunshine842 Sep 11, 2011 11:28 PM

                  French wines aren't sold by varietal - they're sold by region or even by village....you might KNOW that Burgundy usually has pinot noir, but you'd buy a bourgogne, not a pinot noir. Sometimes the label tells the cepage(s), but not always.

                  But no, I've never heard it shortened.

                  1. re: sunshine842
                    chowser Sep 12, 2011 04:19 AM

                    I learn so much here.

                    1. re: chowser
                      sunshine842 Sep 12, 2011 05:21 AM

                      Chowser, have a look at the Wiki article here:


                      I know, I know -- Wiki is not the end all information source -- but this is a pretty short-and-sweet explanation of a sometimes amazingly complicated system, and it can be read and digested in a reasonably short time period. Do skip the "trends" section - it's disjointed, poorly written, and not worth the time to read. The rest of it is some pretty decent basic information.

                      If you want more, let us know -- we can bury you under more definitions and explanations!

                2. re: sunshine842
                  DeppityDawg Sep 15, 2011 03:58 AM

                  Some abbreviated food and drink names in French: barbec, champ, beaujo, bif, calva, château, chipo, granny, mayo, nes. There are many more; these are just a few that I found by doing a quick search in the dictionary.

                  1. re: DeppityDawg
                    smartie Sep 15, 2011 05:33 AM

                    yes you hear Nes all over Europe for Nescafe instant coffee!

                    1. re: smartie
                      PotatoHouse Sep 15, 2011 11:56 AM

                      Nes-ce pas?

                      Ok, I hope that came out as funny as it sounded in my head.......

                    2. re: DeppityDawg
                      sunshine842 Sep 15, 2011 08:07 AM

                      I've heard chipo and mayo - and chateau is a standalone word unto itself -- but never heard the rest of them.

                      1. re: sunshine842
                        DeppityDawg Sep 15, 2011 11:00 AM

                        "Château" is (supposedly) short for "châteaubriand". I don't think I've ever heard this, but then I've never heard anyone say "châteaubriand" in French, either. Myself, I hear "champ" and "calva" all the time, but that probably says more about me than about the French language. Anyway, like I said, all of these abbreviations are in the dictionary (Petit Robert), which indicates that someone, somewhere uses or has used them, even if they were not within our earshot at the time.

                        My point is that I'm not convinced that French and other languages are more resistant to cutesy, annoying (to some) abbreviations of food/drink names than English, which is what a number of people seem to be suggesting in this thread. I think it's far more likely that the people in this thread are simply more familiar with English than they are with other languages.

                        1. re: DeppityDawg
                          sunshine842 Sep 15, 2011 12:02 PM

                          It's not too common to even see chateaubriand on a menu -- usually if you hear "chateau", they're referring to a mansion and/or castle.

                          I hear French spoken all day, every day -- but don't hear many cutesy abbreviations -- whether that means that they aren't all that common, or I just don't hang around with people who use them, I have no idea.

                          1. re: DeppityDawg
                            chowser Sep 15, 2011 01:28 PM

                            I don't think people are saying there aren't cutesy terms for food, or abbreviations, in other countries as much as trying to think if there are. While we're English speakers, there are a lot of CH who are multi-lingual. In the case of Taiwanese, I can't think of any food words that are shortened to "cutesy" but my parents aren't the types to use baby-ish terms/voices ever.

                            1. re: chowser
                              DeppityDawg Sep 15, 2011 02:50 PM

                              Abbreviations don't work the same way in Chinese languages like Minnan/Taiwanese [NB: this is a linguistic classification, not a political statement]. Food names are either one syllable (and can't be further shortened) or they consist of several meaningful syllables that are all necessary to construct a compound meaning. It's not like "sand+wich", where neither part means anything. It's more like "bean curd", where you need both words to produce the meaning "tofu".

                              That said, it is sometimes possible to drop syllables in longer names. For example, although "tofu" 豆腐 can't be abbreviated, the word for "soft tofu" 豆腐花 can be shortened to just 豆花, leaving out the "curd" character. Potatoes are 馬鈴薯, but it is usually shortened to just the last character in the word for "French fries" 薯條. Fruit is 水果, but fruit juice is just 果汁. [These examples work in Mandarin, and there are many many more like it. I am 99% sure that the same sort of thing happens all over the place in Taiwanese.]

                              1. re: DeppityDawg
                                chowser Sep 15, 2011 03:28 PM

                                "Food names are either one syllable"

                                I've never studied the language and only know it by hearing it so I've never thought about that but that's true for what I can think of, as ipsedixit said, it could be considered an abbreviated language. Eye opening when you just speak a language and don't think about it.

                                My husband speaks Cantonese and, not knowing it was the real word, I thought it was "baby talk" when his mom called vegetables "tse tse." As I translated it in Taiwanese, I thought she was saying, "Crunchy, crunchy." It's just "tsai" in Taiwanese. I know I'm speaking rudimentary Taiwanese, from 30+ years ago so I don't know what is current--though it's not a "current" language when you come down to it. Thanks for making me think about it.

                                1. re: chowser
                                  DeppityDawg Sep 15, 2011 04:16 PM

                                  In fact there is often the opposite tendency to extend one-syllable names, either by repeating the word (I guess that's what's happening in your Cantonese example "tse tse") or by adding a meaningless particle like 子 or 仔. Think of all the Taiwanese words that end in "a", like 蚵仔 "oyster", 瓜仔 "squash/cucumber", 芋仔 "taro".

                                  1. re: DeppityDawg
                                    paulj Sep 15, 2011 05:36 PM

                                    Another mechanism for making 'cute' names is onomatopia. I can think of various Japanese names like this. One that comes to mind ins 'hori hori' which literally can translated as 'dig dig', and refers to a heavy knife used for digging, gardening, and harvesting wild plants. Shabushabu (swish swich) is culinary term along that line.

                                    There are also Chinese dishes whose names sounds cute or evocative to western ears, especially in literal translation - pock marked ma's tofu, ants climb a tree, red in snow, etc

                            2. re: DeppityDawg
                              boredough Sep 21, 2011 02:43 PM

                              just a guess, but couldn't "chateau" be an abbreviation for Chateauneuf-du-Pape? goes with champ & calva....

                              1. re: boredough
                                sunshine842 Sep 21, 2011 02:51 PM

                                But then it could arguably be used as an abbreviation for every label that starts with Chateau...which would get counterproductive in a hurry.

                                1. re: sunshine842
                                  boredough Sep 21, 2011 04:00 PM

                                  It's no different than calling Calvados "calva" - it's a classification of wine, like Champagne. I think you are confusing this with the fact that many wines are called "Chateau Something" because that is the name of the winery. That is a separate matter from the classification of wine known as Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

                                  1. re: boredough
                                    sunshine842 Sep 21, 2011 04:22 PM

                                    but c'mon...you're going to have un verre du Chateau? Really? Because most folks (French or otherwise) would look at you and say "Chateau du...quoi?" Because there would be absolutely no reason to assume you were talking about Chateauneuf-du-Pape and not Chateau Cache Phloe...even if you were sitting in the middle of the square in the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape itself (which is NOT short-named as Chateau, even by people who live there -- I've heard it called Chateauneuf, but that's as short as it gets))

                                    I'm sure somebody has used it...but it's absolutely not common usage

                                    1. re: sunshine842
                                      boredough Sep 21, 2011 04:34 PM

                                      First of all, I was just throwing this out as my first reaction to what the abbreviation 'chateau' would mean, especially in the company of other abbreviations such as "champ" and "calva", that were mentioned above. And it would be a 'verre DE Chateau..." (like a "verre de champagne") that would distinguish itself from a verre DU Chateau something. I just don't think "chateaubriand" is nearly as common (to the French) as Chateauneuf-du-Pape. As for the fact that Chateauneuf-ers would not call their village "chateau", I doubt the inhabitants of Calvados call their hometown "calva" either. That doesn't preclude them from using the abbreviation for a glass of eau-de-vie. That's just my 2 centimes.

                      2. r
                        ricepad Sep 12, 2011 05:15 PM

                        Taking your example, in Japan, they eat "sandos" because "san-do-i-chi" is too long. Of course, there *is* no Japanese word for 'sandwich'....

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: ricepad
                          Tripeler Sep 12, 2011 10:10 PM

                          Well, yes there is. It's "sando" (サンド)

                          1. re: Tripeler
                            ricepad Sep 13, 2011 12:37 PM

                            Did you even read my post??

                            1. re: ricepad
                              Tripeler Sep 14, 2011 07:24 PM

                              Yes, and that's why I replied the way I did. Most Japanese words originate from their pronunciation of Chinese characters, but in modern times words also originate from other foreign languages. Sando is one example, it originated from "sandwich" but it is certainly a Japanese word.

                              1. re: Tripeler
                                ricepad Sep 15, 2011 11:51 AM

                                'Sandwich' begat 'sandoichi' as the borrowed/cognate form, which in turn begat 'sando' as an abbreviated form (and in response to the OP). You continue to confuse my point.

                                1. re: ricepad
                                  Tripeler Sep 16, 2011 06:57 PM

                                  If your point was "There is no Japanese word for 'sandwich'" then I will just disagree.

                                  1. re: Tripeler
                                    ricepad Sep 17, 2011 12:06 AM

                                    I guess what I should have said was, "Thank you for pointing out what I already said."

                        2. paulj Sep 12, 2011 06:08 PM

                          Isn't 'sandwich' itself some sort of abbreviation? The full description is something like 'meat between two pieces of bread or toast', and it is somehow connected with John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.

                          15 Replies
                          1. re: paulj
                            sunshine842 Sep 12, 2011 11:21 PM

                            No, not an abbreviation - It's named for the Earl himself -- according to the story he asked his servants to bring him meat between two pieces of bread so he could eat with one hand and play cards with the other.

                            1. re: sunshine842
                              paulj Sep 13, 2011 08:57 AM

                              Who or how was it named for the Earl? I don't doubt that there's a connection, but it seems most logical that it started out as a longer phrase, like 'a meal in the style of the Earl of Sandwich'. Unless someone formally names a dish after some personality (see the story behind Crepe Suzette, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cr%C3%AA... ) it is unlikely it starts out as a single word.

                              1. re: paulj
                                DPGood Sep 13, 2011 09:02 AM

                                In that sense, maybe all words are abbreviations. Maybe Socrates was on to something after all.

                                1. re: paulj
                                  sunshine842 Sep 13, 2011 12:01 PM

                                  All of these folks (and the venerable sources THEY in turn quote) seem to think that it did indeed start out as a single word:


                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                    paulj Sep 14, 2011 09:02 AM

                                    True, the written references use just the one word, but why not the full name or title? Why isn't it called a monague? Did his gambling buddies call the earl 'Sandwich'?

                                    points out that the Hawaiian Islands were originally named after this same earl, one of the sponsors of Capt James Cook.

                                    1. re: paulj
                                      sunshine842 Sep 14, 2011 09:54 AM

                                      For the same reason it's not called a Portsmouth.

                                      It could have been, but it wasn't.


                                      1. re: paulj
                                        Harters Sep 14, 2011 10:29 AM

                                        "Did his gambling buddies call the earl 'Sandwich'?"

                                        Possibly, but probably not as likely as Montagu, the actual family name.

                                        The internet will provide you many suggestions that Montagu invented the sandwich. Of course, it is absolute tosh. Folk have been putting protein between two pieces of bread for as long as folk have been eating protein and bread. It was simply the "scandal" of him eating like that in "polite society" that earned him the notoriety.

                                        1. re: Harters
                                          sunshine842 Sep 14, 2011 12:15 PM

                                          Yes - one of the sources I posted mentions that it's quite likely he got the inspiration from his travels to Greece and Turkey, where plenty of foods are served in a piece of bread.

                                2. re: paulj
                                  chowser Sep 13, 2011 04:50 AM

                                  Well, most food words we have is an "abbreviation" in that case--one word standing for a full description of a dish? A napoleon is a layered pastry with different fillings.

                                  1. re: chowser
                                    DPGood Sep 13, 2011 06:47 AM

                                    A rose by any other name smells as sweet. (Don't quote me.)

                                    1. re: DPGood
                                      chowser Sep 13, 2011 11:05 AM

                                      LOL, but the abbreviation "rose" sounds much more poetic than saying

                                      A number of shrubs or vines of the genus Rosa, having prickly stems, pinnately compound leaves, and variously colored, often fragrant flowers by any other name smells as sweet.

                                      1. re: chowser
                                        DPGood Sep 13, 2011 11:29 AM

                                        Yeah. I like the abbreviation better.

                                        1. re: DPGood
                                          Veggo Sep 13, 2011 04:02 PM

                                          So does my neighbor Rose.

                                          1. re: Veggo
                                            DPGood Sep 14, 2011 06:40 AM

                                            My MIL likes Rose too.

                                    2. re: chowser
                                      paulj Sep 14, 2011 09:13 AM

                                      Another pastry is named for its cabbage like appearance.

                                  2. GraydonCarter Sep 13, 2011 02:40 PM

                                    I'll bet the English, where they play "Footie", have plenty of abbreviations and rhyming slang.

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: GraydonCarter
                                      Harters Sep 14, 2011 10:32 AM

                                      As do we Welsh, Scots and Northern Irish who make up the United Kingdom with the English - although the classic old-fashioned rhyming slang is from Cockney London, rather than the rest of the country.

                                      1. re: GraydonCarter
                                        gembellina Sep 20, 2011 08:29 AM

                                        I need a sit down with a cuppa and a biccie, I've been on my plates of meat all day

                                        1. re: gembellina
                                          Harters Sep 20, 2011 09:18 AM

                                          Keep your barnet on, Gem, otherwise you're going to get in a right two and eight.

                                          1. re: Harters
                                            gembellina Sep 21, 2011 03:19 AM

                                            barnet? it's a syrup.

                                            1. re: gembellina
                                              Harters Sep 21, 2011 04:38 AM

                                              Barnet ( fair) = hair

                                              As opposed to syrup = wig


                                              1. re: Harters
                                                gembellina Sep 21, 2011 05:36 AM

                                                It isn't really!

                                                Just as well we don't really talk like this or you'd never get anything edible!

                                                1. re: gembellina
                                                  Harters Sep 21, 2011 06:51 AM

                                                  Indeed. And I'm not even from dahn sarf.

                                                  1. re: Harters
                                                    smartie Sep 21, 2011 02:42 PM

                                                    I'm a Londoner and although not a cockney we certainly all use rhyming slang fairly often and we know it well enough.

                                          2. re: gembellina
                                            chowser Sep 20, 2011 12:37 PM

                                            Might help to smoke a fag.

                                            1. re: gembellina
                                              smartie Sep 20, 2011 04:29 PM

                                              it's a cup of rosie

                                              1. re: gembellina
                                                Harters Sep 21, 2011 02:06 AM

                                                Well, I've just come down the apples & pears. The trouble & strife said have a butchers at this. It was an advert for a new restaurant serving what looks like great Ruby Murrays. But when I'm really Hank Marvin all I want is a great big Charlie.

                                                1. re: Harters
                                                  smartie Sep 21, 2011 05:20 AM

                                                  after which you'll feel billy and dick!

                                            2. w
                                              wintersweet Sep 17, 2011 05:03 PM

                                              There are lots in Japanese--as mentioned, "sando" for "sandoitchi," from "sandwich"; "kareraisu" from "karee to raisu" (curry and rice), "omuraisu," I guess from "omeretsu to raisu" (omelet with rice), etc.

                                              But these aren't so much cute abbreviations like "sammie" (which I would never say...) but standard names. I suspect there are actual abbreviations, but I don't know them. There's lots of abbreviation, shortening, and wordplay in Japanese!

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