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Is There Another Word for "Chopsticks"?

Kat Oct 25, 2012 06:24 AM

This has been bugging me for a while. I think there is another word for "chopsticks", but I can't remember it. The word "chopsticks" to me seems very dated and Americanized, there must be another word in use. Anyone know?

  1. TeRReT Oct 25, 2012 06:29 AM

    chopsticks are not chopsticks in their respective countries, in Japan for instance while many people might understand chopsticks, they are called 'hashi'

    1. moto Oct 25, 2012 06:31 AM

      kuai zi. you might be understood by more people in the world using that rather than the 'standard'.

      1. scoopG Oct 25, 2012 07:39 AM

        Or zhu (箸 zhù), the ancient name for chopsticks!

        Commercial travel in 17th century China was not easy – divination techniques were required so businessmen could protect themselves against misfortune and move about on auspicious days. Elaborate calculations were required to minimize risk and risk avoidance penetrated many aspects of daily commercial living.

        Suzhou merchants would not use the words for fan (翻 fān or “overturned”) or zhu (住 zhù or “blocked”) . Since spoken Mandarin has a high number of homonyms, this lead to all sorts of engaging word substitutions.

        The word for chopsticks 箸 zhù and blocked 住 zhù are pronounced exactly the same but written differently.

        Since Suzhou businessmen feared having their goods blocked, they started using the opposite word, kuai (快 kuài or “fast”) – the word we use today for chopsticks 筷子 kuài zi.

        4 Replies
        1. re: scoopG
          Tripeler Oct 26, 2012 01:40 AM

          Not suprisingly, the ancient Chinese character for chopsticks 箸 is the same one used in Japan now. Interestingly, the word for "bridge" is a homonym, 橋, and is pronounced the same ("hashi") but with a slightly different emphasis when saying it.

          1. re: scoopG
            buttertart Nov 3, 2012 05:49 PM

            I had never heard this explanation. I figured the idea was just that they were quick things.
            Suzhou hua, being a dialect of Wu, is quite a long way from Mandarin, but I expect the homonyms may be constant.

            1. re: buttertart
              scoopG Nov 4, 2012 05:52 AM

              This according to Timothy Brook (University of British Columbia) in "The Troubled Empire:
              China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties." (Harvard U Press; Cambridge, 2010). And I thought your husband was the Suzhou scholar!

              1. re: scoopG
                buttertart Nov 4, 2012 07:01 AM

                That he is, and it seems he hadn't noticed that in Brook's book (hence my never having heard this, it's tidbits like this that tend to get pointed out).
                The interest in Suzhou, if not the expertise, is mutual. Things wear off on one over time, after all.

                The auspicious days for travel and every other endeavor, and inauspicious homonym problems definitely apply. After all, Zhu Yuanming, the first Ming emperor, who was both ill-favored of appearance and of peasant origin, was known to take mention of pigs and pork as suspect onto seditious.

                My interest being more in language than history, I would not have thought that Mandarin was what the merchants were doing business in. Suzhou dialect seems to me even farther from Mandarin than Taiwanese is.

          2. Bob Martinez Oct 25, 2012 10:07 AM


            1. Delucacheesemonger Nov 4, 2012 07:36 AM

              In France they are called 'baguettes'

              2 Replies
              1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                buttertart Nov 4, 2012 07:43 AM

                I'd forgotten that. Thanks for the reminder.

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                  sunshine842 Nov 4, 2012 08:38 AM

                  ...which creates a mental image that makes me giggle.

                2. linguafood Nov 4, 2012 09:10 AM

                  In German they're called "Stäbchen", which literally means "little rod/staff".

                  Cute, huh?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: linguafood
                    buttertart Nov 4, 2012 09:36 AM

                    Original meaning of "baguette" in French is "little stick" too, after all.

                    1. re: buttertart
                      linguafood Nov 4, 2012 09:46 AM


                      1. re: linguafood
                        buttertart Nov 4, 2012 12:24 PM


                  2. Chemicalkinetics Nov 4, 2012 11:53 AM


                    In what languages are we talking about. In English, I only know Chopsticks. In Chinese and Japanese, they have their native languages for the object.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      Kat Nov 5, 2012 08:10 AM

                      Yes, was thinking of English. I thought that there was a Chinese or Japanese word for chopsticks that was now adopted by English speakers, but that does not seem to be the case. I just don't like the word "chopsticks," it seems colonial and not PC.

                    2. porker Nov 5, 2012 08:30 AM

                      I think the original name is The Celebrated Chop Waltz, but everyone knows it by Chopsticks,

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: porker
                        huiray Nov 13, 2012 01:09 PM


                      2. z
                        Zalbar Nov 13, 2012 08:31 AM

                        In Trinidad everyone calls them Fai Chi. I'm not sure why it would bug you to call them chopsticks.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Zalbar
                          Chemicalkinetics Nov 13, 2012 12:22 PM

                          <In Trinidad everyone calls them Fai Chi>

                          That is actually phonetically Chinese (Cantonese). I think Kat just think the words "Chopsticks" appear a bit outdated and possibly offensive.

                        2. f
                          FrankJBN Nov 13, 2012 01:30 PM

                          not "Americanized" but rather based on British English slang.

                          How do you feel about Brazil nuts?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: FrankJBN
                            linguafood Nov 13, 2012 02:22 PM

                            Probably better than their older moniker...

                          2. Bill Hunt Nov 13, 2012 07:38 PM

                            Not sure, but as a child, I was not allowed to run with them...


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