What does "famous" mean to Taiwanese? "I've heard of it"?

When I am with my Taiwan friends, it seems like almost every restaurant, or noodle stall, or ice cream store, or just about anyplace we pass is mentioned as being “famous”. I used to think that it must be notable and that I should jot it down to memory. But now I’ve realized there are just way to many places noted as famous and that they must be using the wrong English word for description.

It must mean “I’ve heard of this place”. So wondering what would be a way to describe back to these people what they really mean…

you ming de? Yeah, it’s weird. Here’s my best guess.

“You ming” has a lower bar than the term “famous” in english, so something can be “famous” if it’s fairly well known or has a reputation of some kind. This difference of degree is lost in translation. Also, I assume you have seen those cooking shows where celebrities visit a different restaurant or noodle stand every week. A stinky tofu stall really can become famous here, after a fashion. At any moderately popular tourist destination you’ll see the odd street vendor with a cardboard sign reading “as seen on TV” or the like.

I take it as meaning ‘well-known’…as in ‘Its been in business for longer than 1 year’ (6 months might also apply). Or 'Its been featured on a TV news story. Which might mean the food is good or the place has been closed down for for poisoning, the lao ban has done the crying ‘pie say pie say’ and has now re-opened for business.

Another term used a lot here is “Original.”

Still trying to square that one. My wife constantly uses the term ‘original flavor.’
I suspect it somehow means ‘traditional.’ As in long established, well known and accepted. But does it mean ‘Taiwanese,’ ‘Chinese.’ ‘regional Chinese,’ regional Taiwanese’…Still working on groking this one.

Never really thought of this, but what beauty wrote was spot on. Good explanation.

[quote=“TainanCowboy”]
Another term used a lot here is “Original.”

Still trying to square that one. My wife constantly uses the term ‘original flavor.’
I suspect it somehow means ‘traditional.’ As in long established, well known and accepted. [/quote]
Original flavor is yuan2wei4, which means plain, as opposed to chocolate, strawberry, durian, etc. As for traditional, people like to use gu3zao3 which came from Taiwanese, and it’s used mainly to describe traditional Taiwanese foods.

Maybe this belongs in the Learning Chinese forum.

there are so many people here that things become famous pretty easily.

Incu -
I see what you’re saying, however my wife rarely speaks Chinese/Taiwanese to me. She knows enough english to say if something has a flavor other than standard. Thats why I lean towards the description I posted.
Thanks for the ‘gu3zao3’ term. I’ll throw that one at her and see what she says. I’m slowly picking up Taiwanese and food terms are a good entry-way into the lingo.

I think it’s famous, but not in the popular, western, media-crazy, hollywood, my ten minutes of fame kind of fame.

TC’s “well-known” seems to work.

Take a look a mingpai. In english, we would say name brand, but with the inference that it’s not an ordinary brand ie it’s famous, high-end, popular, well-known, etc. Otherwise, we’d say generic brand.

Just weirdy translation, I guess.

Sounds funny, along with ‘convenient’.

[quote=“Buttercup”]Just weirdy translation, I guess.

Sounds funny, along with ‘convenient’.[/quote]

As in, a big or little convenient?

HG

[quote=“Huang Guang Chen”][quote=“Buttercup”]Just weirdy translation, I guess.

Sounds funny, along with ‘convenient’.[/quote]

As in, a big or little convenient?

HG[/quote]
Reminds me of the boss at my first teaching job in Taiwan - everyone (deservedly) called her “Chhoah Sái” behind her back (her surname was Cài).

Another wrinkle in the usage of “you ming–” it often means “prestigious” rather than “famous” when applied to selective universities, corporations, hospitals and so forth. For instance, my alma mater of Virginia Tech is certainly famous, but most Taiwanese wouldn’t consider VT a “you ming de” university.

Yeah, my Korean and Taiwanese students used to ask me why I hadn’t gone to a famous university, which in Canada doesn’t really make sense. Some are better than others, but the big ones are all about equally famous.
I had a few students who said that I was a famous teacher. I could never quite understand what they meant - clearly a buxiban teacher is not going to be famous in the normal English sense of the word. If they meant they thought I was a good teacher, why didn’t they just say so?

[quote]
Yeah, my Korean and Taiwanese students used to ask me why I hadn’t gone to a famous university, which in Canada doesn’t really make sense. Some are better than others, but the big ones are all about equally famous.
I had a few students who said that I was a famous teacher. I could never quite understand what they meant - clearly a buxiban teacher is not going to be famous in the normal English sense of the word. If they meant they thought I was a good teacher, why didn’t they just say so?[/quote]

Congratulations on being a famous teacher :slight_smile:

As for students asking why you didn’t go to a famous school, everyone knows why some people go to better schools than others. You had the scores but not the grades, the grades but not the scores, or both grades and scores but you couldn’t pay, or neither but you got some legacy action, etc. Asking why someone didn’t go to a prestigious uni is the vilest kind of passive aggressive douchebaggery, and not something you have to put up with.

Just take it with a huge grain of salt … anything is famous pretty easy in Taiwan

They mean ‘popular’, but their English teachers haven’t taught them this vocabulary word.

Actually, they know the word, but once again it’s a matter of misuse. They tend to use “popular” when they should use “common.”

e.g. “Murder is very popular in South Africa.”

Actually, they know the word, but once again it’s a matter of misuse. They tend to use “popular” when they should use “common.”

e.g. “Murder is very popular in South Africa.”[/quote]

How about this cracker from a Japanese ex… “Being a lesbian isn’t popular in Japan.” :unamused:

And how did that arise in conversation?

Two women kissed in front of us. I had recently read an article about how lesbianism had been taboo in Japan for a while. After they kissed I mistook my girlfriend for someone with intelligence, by making the remark, ‘You don’t see many people expressing themselves in that way in Japan.’ Her reply was as quoted above.

What a mistaka to maka.

Sorry, I was being flippant and silly, which, of course, is not like me.