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I'm pretty sure celery is 芹菜. qin2 cai4

I heard people referring to bok choy as qin cai as well, but I believe it was qin1 cai4. Is this correct? When I look up bok choy, it is 白菜 bai2cai4 which sounds phonetically similar to bok choy.

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what this mean pakchoy? what this mean bokchoy? Why? what the different pakchoy and bokchoy? –  user3058 Jul 21 '13 at 7:06
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4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You probably mean qing1 cai4 (青菜). It is used for green vegetables in general, but is also used for Chinese cabbage.

现代汉语规范词典 has this to say: 1. 名 一般指小白菜或油菜。 2. 名 泛指蔬菜。

小白菜 is typically translated as Chinese cabbage or bak choy in dictionaries and also used like this in many places in China, in other places people often mean baby bak choy when they use 小白菜.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_cabbage#Commercial_variants_of_Chinensis has this to say:

Baby Pak choi, Shanghai Pak choi, or mei quin choi (Chinese: 上海白菜; pinyin: Shànghǎi báicài; Japanese: 青梗菜, chingensai) refers to greener varieties where the varioles are also green. It is simply a less-mature version that could develop into the white-stemmed variety with more time to grow before being harvested. In Shanghai and other eastern China provinces, it is simply called qīngcài (青菜; literally blue/green vegetable) or qīngjiāngcài (青江菜; literally "blue/green river vegetable").

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qin1 cai4 means 青菜 or 小白菜.

some people used to say qin1 cai4

I'd like call it 小白菜.

白菜 is bigger than 小白菜

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bok choy in Mandarin (Northern part of China) saying is 小白菜 (baby bok choy). The north don't just say bok choy, it's always added a 小 (baby, little, small) before anything else. That's their culture of saying things than the Cantonese at the southern part of China. The Cantonese saying is just the two words bok choy or 白菜子. The 子 at the end means 'baby,little, small, tiny' refer to as 小 (baby, small) in Mandarin. Mandarin put the '小, baby, little' at the beginning of the phrase while the Cantonese leave it at the end of the phrase. It all ended up the same meaning, it just reverse it.

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芹菜 is celery.

小白菜 is not actually bok choy. The proper English name is "baby bok choy". Bok choy is a much larger vegetable that looks a little bit like a head of lettuce. It doesn't come in the form of individual stalks and one bok choy weighs a couple of pounds.

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As theGoose mentioned, it depends on where in China you are. In many places 小白菜 really means bak choy and not baby bak choy. –  BertR Apr 2 '12 at 7:46
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