Of Nong and Nong

Hey guys … quick … pull up a chair and settle down.

I am going to give you a quick lesson in Chinese. I am going to teach you two Chinese words — Nong and Nong.

*roll eyes*


These two words had been ringing in my brain the whole day long. Yeah, this came from the blog post yesterday when I blogged about The One Restaurant on Granville and 41st. In that post I mentioned that the Chinese name of that restaurant is called Nong and I further added that Nong means “thick” or “concentrated” as in sauce.

Well, next came a barrage of comments (at least it felt like a barrage) from Buddha Girl, HM and Teresa that it was the wrong word.

“*BEEP* wrong answer!”

What do I know right? So I conferred with a Shanghainese friend of mine and he also gave me the same answer:

“*BEEP* wrong answer!”

LOL! So I learned something new today. Both the words above are pronounced as Nong but with different meaning. It even looked the same to the illiterates.

The Nong on the left means “you”. Now, you might think that the word “you” is such a common word but actually this word is only used in … Shanghai. The rest of China uses the simpler word 你 (pronounced as Ni). This is the something new I learned. See the two strokes in red? That two strokes resembles the word 人 which means people. I was told that if you see the two strokes like that, the word has to do with people in one way or another … Something like that.

The Nong on the right means “thick” or “concentrated” as in describing a sauce. The three strokes in blue is known as the three drops of water. When you see this, the word is usually applied to food … Something like that.

Soooooo … Buuuuddhaaaa Giiiirl, Hhhhh Mmmmm and Teeee-reeee-saaaa … is that kind of right?

So how do you use these two words? Lets say you want to say “you are thick” (thick as in blockheaded or stupid), you say 啊 Ben 儂是濃.

Class dismissed.

Oh wait … see if you can guess my Chinese name. Translated it is mouth-ten-sun-moon-moon-moon-bird.

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  1. Buddha Girl

    ELAINE: Good job! I could never figure that one out…wow! LOL!’

    BEN: Sorry…didn’t mean to barrage your post…my godsis told me that the “nong” (you) is used more as a slang in Shanghai…and is usually not used in business language or writing…

    1. Elaine

      Hahaha this is fun but too bad my own Chinese name is kind of hard to dissect like that!

  2. Nong

    Interesting post indeed! 😀 In Hmong, my name, Nong, means bird. 🙂 My entire name, Mai Nong = Little Bird. 😀 I’m not so little anymore though.

    1. Ben

      LOL, Hi Little Bird. I am Sun-Moon Moon-Moon-Bird. 🙂 In English, it’s Ben.

  3. HM

    My tummy really hurts after reading this blog, laughing so hard & nearly burst my bladder!! LOL!! Ben, like you, my Chinese is also “half-pail-water” but I learned the difference of the 2 “nongs” from my Shanghainese client. Disecting one’s Chinese name is hard to do esp those with too many strokes in each character, but you’ve given me the incentive to disect mine….hehehe…..

  4. LotusRapper

    I vote that Ben should do more non-food/restaurant/recipe posts like this !

    1. LotusRapper

      Next up: “Lemon Consomme Soup”

    2. Ben

      Hi LotusRapper and HM: Oh yeah? You like posts like that? I actually have a few ideas up my sleeve and I have willing helpers in Arkensen and Nanzaro. We are going to let the idea incubate for a while more and take baby steps and see where it lands us. My goal … make you all smile. Ben

  5. Laurie

    Hi Ben, I’m a new and loyal reader of your blog. I really enjoy the write-ups u do and have tried out a couple of places you write about.
    Back to the topic, when I looked back at the previous blog and looked at the awning of the restaurant, the word nong has the 2 stroke “people” reference, so in this case, wouldn’t the name if the restaurant be Nong as in “you”? Or did I miss something in today’s lesson?

    1. Ben

      Hi Laurie: Oh now that you mentioned it, I digressed so much in my lesson to everyone I guess I forgot to say that the “Nong” on The One’s logo means “you” … not “thick”. 🙂 Ben

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