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View Full Version : How is 'General Tso' (as in chicken) pronounced?


Hail Ants
04-29-2004, 05:40 PM
I always pronounce it Tau, rhymes with 'how'. Is this correct? And who the heck was he anyway? Or is it just a Chinese-American invention for us goofy Americans to ponder (like mystical 'fortune' cookies)...

Chastain86
04-29-2004, 05:44 PM
So.

RumMunkey
04-29-2004, 05:50 PM
No no.... you're both waaaYYY off. It's pronounced "jen-er-uhl"










huh? wha?? :dubious:

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
04-29-2004, 05:53 PM
BUCK-ba-KAK!

How else would his chicken pronounce his name?

Starving Artist
04-29-2004, 05:54 PM
I always heard (or maybe read) the "Ts" sound was like that of tsetse flies, followed by the "o."

MissGypsy
04-29-2004, 06:22 PM
I've always heard it pronounced as "so."

And here's the SD Staff Report (https://academicpursuits.us/mailbag/mgentso.html) on the origin of the name of the dish.

John Mace
04-29-2004, 06:36 PM
I suspect it would depend on which dialect you speak.

How do you pronounce Eisenhower? Is it AAH-zen-HOW-uh or Eye-zen-how-er?

Ravenman
04-29-2004, 06:55 PM
Ya know, for all the years I studied Chinese, I've never bothered to even think about this.

The word "tso" can also be romanized as "zuo." The "uo" is kind of a difficult sound to make using English pronunciation. My best shot would be to say that it would be like, "zoh-wah" as a single syllable, but the "wah" part is pronounced very, very lightly, almost imperceptably to most unattuned ears.

"So" with a little more of a "z" sound is perfectly acceptable. "Tau" isn't in the ballpark.

Mr2001
04-29-2004, 07:36 PM
I always heard (or maybe read) the "Ts" sound was like that of tsetse flies, followed by the "o."
That's how I pronounce it. Like "fatso" without the "fa".

Eve
04-29-2004, 07:40 PM
I told this story here a few years ago, but I think Hamsters like General Tso, too.

Place: My local Happy Lucky Golden Dragon Restaurant. I have just ordered General Tso take-out.

Eve: "So, who was this General Tso, anyway?"
Cashier: "What?"
Eve [already regretting asking]: "Umm, I eat his chicken a lot, so I was just wondering, who is General Tso?"
Cashier [looking at receipt]: "He Eve Golden."
Eve: "No, no. Not who ordered it--who was he?"
Cashier: "He chicken in spicy sauce."
Eve: "Umm, never mind . . ."
[Cashier calls manager]
Manager: "Is something wrong?"
Eve: "No . . . I was just ordering some General Tso's chicken, and I was wondering if anyone knew who he was."
Manager: "Oh, I dunno. He some Chinese guy."

Dr. Rieux
04-29-2004, 07:55 PM
Eve, sometimes your life souonds like an episode of Seinfeld--only funny.

Captain Amazing
04-29-2004, 08:32 PM
He was a general who helped to crush the Taiping rebellion. Here's a Washington Post article on him:

http://washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A59302-2002Apr16?language=printer

bleach
04-29-2004, 08:47 PM
Here (https://academicpursuits.us/mailbag/mgentso.html)'s the link to Veg's SD column on who he was and a bit about his chicken.

Starving Artist
04-29-2004, 08:59 PM
That's how I pronounce it. Like "fatso" without the "fa".Precisely! What a great way of explaining it. Thanks.

cckerberos
04-29-2004, 09:09 PM
Okay, now for another question:

Why is it also known as General Gao's Chicken (at least where I'm from) ?

samclem
04-29-2004, 09:10 PM
The website that says it was "invented" in the early 70's in NYC is probably correct.

Barry Popik, who is the resident word sleuth on all things food over at the American Dialect Society can only find cites from the 1970's(so far). About the same time, the dishes "Gen. Chang's Chicken" and Gen. Gau's Chicken" appeared. All in the 1970's. Usually on NYC menus.

CalMeacham
04-29-2004, 09:31 PM
The Boston Comic News (now sadly defunct -- sniff!) once carried a cartoon showing a Chinese General in clothes that would have been appropriate a few centuries back, standing in an aggressive pose in the lobby of a Chinese restaurant, brandishing a flamboyant and wicked-looking spear. The caption read:" General Tso wants his chicken back".


I loved it. Although, judging from the cited Staff report, they were evidently a few centuries off in the costume.

shijinn
04-30-2004, 02:11 AM
i had never heard of 'general tso', but reading this thread you think it has anything to do with colonel sanders?

Melandry
04-30-2004, 02:28 AM
In the spirit of Eve's anecdote, my (very Republican) boyfriend always researches the backgrounds of Chinese food generals before he will order their dish, so that he doesn't end up accidentally supporting a Communist military leader by eating food named after him. Or something.

Is General Gau's really the same as General Tso's? I must admit I've never seen them both on the menu at the same place. I order Gau's all the time but have not tried anything going under the name of Tso.

Odinoneeye
04-30-2004, 02:45 AM
I just want to know who this Almond Boneless guy is.

My wife eats his chicken all the time.

cckerberos
04-30-2004, 05:53 AM
Is General Gau's really the same as General Tso's? I must admit I've never seen them both on the menu at the same place. I order Gau's all the time but have not tried anything going under the name of Tso.

Yep, they're the same. Like you I'm from Boston and had only eaten General Gau's. I learned the name General Tso's while ordering Chinese food with my out-of-state college friends.

Gary T
04-30-2004, 09:35 AM
Ya know, for all the years I studied Chinese, I've never bothered to even think about this.

"So" with a little more of a "z" sound is perfectly acceptable.
The little table placards for Tsingtao beer (and the Chinese speaking staff at the restaurants) say to pronounce it CHING-DOW. Why the difference in pronunciation of the "ts" between "Tsingtao" and "Tso?"

Fear Itself
04-30-2004, 09:48 AM
The little table placards for Tsingtao beer (and the Chinese speaking staff at the restaurants) say to pronounce it CHING-DOW. Why the difference in pronunciation of the "ts" between "Tsingtao" and "Tso?"That makes sense to me, as I have always pronounced it "General Chow's Chicken" I'm pretty sure that's how it was spelled in many places, prior to the shift in translation that changed Peking to Beijing. "Tso" is the new translation for the character Westerners have always pronounced "Chow".

Q.E.D.
04-30-2004, 09:55 AM
Can't have a food thread without a recipe (http://io.com/~sjohn/food3.htm). This one is my favorite, though I prefer to use chicken breast meat instead of thighs.

bordelond
04-30-2004, 10:37 AM
Yep, they're the same. Like you I'm from Boston and had only eaten General Gau's. I learned the name General Tso's while ordering Chinese food with my out-of-state college friends.

Further confusing matters, in the New Orleans-area and in my part of Mississippi, it's most commonly called "Gen. Tsao's chicken", with "Tsao" rhyming with "how" (as in the OP). Chinese families down here often hail from Taiwan, which may or may not be a factor. Another possible factor is that many Vietnamese families run Chinese restaurants down here.

"Gen. Tso's chicken" shows up now and again, though ... maybe when Chinese folks from other parts of the country open up shop down here.

Gary T, keep in mind that there are competing standards of Romanization of Chinese, and that there are several dialects of Chinese to be considered. There are many reasons the "ts" in Tsingtao would be different from the "ts" in "Tso".

Ezstrete
04-30-2004, 10:42 AM
Further confusing matters, in the New Orleans-area and in my part of Mississippi, it's most commonly called "Gen. Tsao's chicken", with "Tsao" rhyming with "how" (as in the OP). Chinese families down here often hail from Taiwan, which may or may not be a factor. Another possible factor is that many Vietnamese families run Chinese restaurants down here.

"Gen. Tso's chicken" shows up now and again, though ... maybe when Chinese folks from other parts of the country open up shop down here.

Gary T, keep in mind that there are competing standards of Romanization of Chinese, and that there are several dialects of Chinese to be considered. There are many reasons the "ts" in Tsingtao would be different from the "ts" in "Tso".

F'cryin' out loud!

Go to keywords

Bang in the name

Hit go

REad

EZ

Q.E.D.
04-30-2004, 10:44 AM
F'cryin' out loud!

Go to keywords

Bang in the name

Hit go

REad

EZ
What the hell...?

Fear Itself
04-30-2004, 11:01 AM
F'cryin' out loud!

Go to keywords

Bang in the name

Hit go

REad

EZOK:

http://beerpal.com/beerinfo.asp?ID=990

"Not a favorite of mine, but I would rather have this beer over a magic hat when eating chinese food, well maybe an IPA. This is a crappy beer. But crisp the hops are there but week, like they went stale. No head. Pale piss yellow. Best served cold with a side of General Tso's Chicken."That clears up everything. Thanks.

Ravenman
04-30-2004, 11:06 AM
The little table placards for Tsingtao beer (and the Chinese speaking staff at the restaurants) say to pronounce it CHING-DOW. Why the difference in pronunciation of the "ts" between "Tsingtao" and "Tso?"
I learned Chinese using the pinyin romanization system, which, in my view, is a pretty useful. Wade-Giles, the old system that uses a lot of "ts" and apostrophes, confuses the hell out of me. I had to look up the pinyin equivalent on a website.

I can't tell you why Tsingdao is spelled like that when its pinyin in Qingdao and it is pronounced like "Ching Dao," but I have a guess. Tsingdao beer was created when the Germans ran the concession in Qingdao, and it may well be that a German convention for romanizing Qingdao was adopted -- hence, the "German" Tsingdao could be different from the Wade Giles "tso".

Again, that's just a WAG. I hope that is confusing enough for you.

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