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original post[edit]

Not a single hit on Google for this term! I believe wiktionary policy is two or more sources for attestation. A-cai 02:38, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

post 1[edit]

Although I've heard the "tadpole chews wax" story, I've never actually heard the term. bd2412 T 04:28, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

post 2[edit]

I doubt you will find this on the Internet since it was only used on a hand-painted sign by a single Chinese coke vendor. I researched it with representatives of Coca-Cola several years ago, and this term was used in the early 1900s by a single vendor at a time when Coke had no official Chinese name and every vendor had to decide for himself how to write it in Chinese. This particular version seems to be the origin of the famous "bite the wax tadpole" story of Coca-Cola in Chinese. —Stephen 13:48, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
Out of curiosity, I tried googling for the Pinyin of this phrase, "kē kē kěn là" and "ke ke ken la", and got a few hits. —Stephen 02:23, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

post 3[edit]

    • I think I've found the problem. The references that I have found on the internet use the following characters: 蝌蝌啃蠟, 蝌蝌啃蜡.

Here are some google hits from Chinese language sites:

This site is in English (half-way down the page, note the characters in the logo on the left).

  • As a side note, the English translation should more accurately be rendered as "the tadpole chews wax," despite the translation given in the above article. : tadpole + : chews (not "bites")1 + : wax.

post 4[edit]

Right. The problem with this has always been complicated by the fact that Chinese store-keepers a hundred years ago were not translators and didn’t follow the practices that modern translators use for writing foreign words in Chinese, and then whoever it was that translated it back into English was probably a company representative in China who didn’t speak or read Chinese very well. "Bite the wax tadpole" seems like what an American who knew the meaning of each character, but who did not know Chinese, would probably say. —Stephen 07:34, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

post 3 cont.[edit]

  • is a more widely used synonym for . The one remaining question is: Do we have any books or periodicals that we can site which verify that the character was used, and not ?

post 4 cont.[edit]

There are two or three books about it, written I think around the mid 1900s, but I don’t have access to them anymore and I don’t remember the titles. I think I read them around 1990. —Stephen 07:34, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

post 3 cont.[edit]

  • I'm also not comfortable with the Cantonese reading. I agree that "fo1 fo1 han2 laap6" is an accurate rendition of the Cantonese romanizations of the individual characters in this term. What is unclear is if Cantonese speakers ever actually used the term, since 蝌蝌齦蠟 is clearly a transliteration of Coca-Cola which is based on the Mandarin romanization of "kēkēkěnlà." Actually, I take that back, here is the Min Nan rendering: kho-kho-khè-la̍h (蝌蝌啃蠟) vs. kho-kho-khín-la̍h (蝌蝌齦蠟). Given the time period, it is not unreasonable that the transliteration of Coca-Cola would be based on Min Nan. This would especially be true if the Coca-Cola branch in question was based in Amoy, Singapore or Malaysia.
  1. I know this may sound like quibbling, but as long as we're talking about obscurities, why only stop half-way;)

post 4 cont.[edit]

I agree, I really don’t believe the Cantonese ever used that pronunciation. Since each vendor made his own rendition, I imaging that store-owners in Hong Kong would have used different characters that better represented the sound in Cantonese. But an origin in Min Nan makes much more sense. One of the long time theories that I have heard was that it probably originated with some weird dialect, and Min Nan fits the bill. Until very recently, the only dialects that were well known in the U.S. were Mandarin and Cantonese. —Stephen 07:34, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

post 5[edit]

The Chinese version of the wikipedia Coca-Cola article mentions that Coca-Cola was manufactured in Shanghai.[1] If true, it is also possible that the transliteration is based on Shanghainese (a variant of the Wu dialect). Unfortunately, I don't speak Shanghainese, and have been unable to locate a usable on-line Shanghainese dictionary. If we could locate one, we would be able to determine whether or not this is a possibility.

A-cai 09:27, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

post 3 cont.[edit]

  1. is defined in HSK汉语水平考试词典 (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi Cidian, ISBN 7561720785)as: 牙齿一点一点使劲紧紧依附上面东西下来 (gnaw; nibble).
    My English translation: Use teeth to little by little exert energy to bite off things that are tightly attached to something (gnaw; nibble).
    is defined in HSK as: 上下牙齿对着用力或是夹紧物体,使部分整体分离下来 (bite; snap at).
    My English translation: upper and lower teeth apply force against each other or clamp onto an object, or cause one part to be separated from the whole.
  • While bite is not technically incorrect, it is slightly misleading in that it does not convey the sense of continuous action. This is why chew, gnaw or nibble are better choices.

A-cai 06:48, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

post 4 cont.[edit]

I agree. It’s why I think the original backtranslation was done by someone who really didn¥t know Chinese. —Stephen 07:34, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
Since I don't speak any of the above languages, and my computer is showing me a bunch of squares and no Chinese characters, I am putting this on the talk page and hoping someone else will make the decision. Andrew massyn 19:40, 10 August 2006 (UTC)