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- May 22, 2005 at 12:00 am #2171
‘Chopstick’ is the pidgin-English and English name for the tools. ‘Chop’ is pidgin-English for ‘quick’, the Mandarin word for chopsticks being kuÃ izi (筷子) or kuÃ i’er (筷兒), meaning ‘the bamboo-objects for eating quickly’. However, originally in Classical Chinese and some dialect like Min Nan, they use the word 箸(Pinyin:zhÃ¹ ,Min Nan:di8), possibly just a phonetic character that merely indicates that the object is made of bamboo. ‘箸’ (zhu), having the same sound as ‘住 or 駐’ (lit. ‘stop’), is a taboo on ships because it would imply to stop the voyage. Because of this, the Chinese began to refer chopsticks as ‘筷’ (kuai), which has the same root and sound as ‘快’ (kuai), meaning ‘fast,’ which is the speed one would want the ship to travel.
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