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I've just noticed that the English Wikipedia gives these spellings for "Zhajiangmian":

  • Simplified Chinese 炸酱面
  • Traditional Chinese 醡醬麵

Whereas the English Wiktionary gives these:

  • 炸酱面 (simplified, Pinyin zhájiàngmiàn, traditional 炸醬麵)

I'm in Taipei and have a menu from a restaurant at the local night market. The spelling on the menu is "醡醬麵" as in Wikipedia.

Now Wiktionary does not list "炸" and "醡" as the simplified and traditional variants of the same characters!

So what's going on here? Is one a Taiwanese spelling rather than a simplified vs traditional spelling? Are the two any kind of variants of each other or is it just a quirk of this single word? Are they fully interchangeable? Also is this related to the two pinyin spellings with the differing tones on the first syllable?

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    I think it's technically 炸. See the discussion at wikipedia: zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:%E5%86%8F – user58955 Feb 10 '14 at 17:38
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    Yes. I think the reason is that 炸酱面 is a northern food and when southerners got to know it they didn't know what the correct character was. I'm from south China and 炸酱面 was unknown to me until I went to university when it was the first time that I had been exposed to culture and food variety. – user58955 Feb 10 '14 at 18:05
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    I'm really surprised this is a Chinese dish. I always thought it was Korean. I've never seen it in any Chinese restaurant and it seemed unique to Korean restaurants. – amateur Feb 11 '14 at 4:11
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    @amateur: Even in Korea I was always told that it was originally from China or that it was based on a Chinese dish. It was always most popular in Chinatowns in Korea. Especially in Incheon. This is incredibly common in food and food words. You can find fierce debates about which country is the home of certain dishes in Southeast Asia. There are many names for dumplings and kebabs around the world and sometimes the words are considered to be for "totally different" things. In English the food words pasta, paste, pastie, pasty, and pate all have the same origin. Etc. – hippietrail Feb 11 '14 at 5:04
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    The Korean Ramen I brought in a US Korean supermarket says "北京炸酱面" on it. – River Oct 14 at 2:00
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醡醬麵 and 炸醬麵

炸醬麵 can work as it means "noodles with fried sauce"

醡醬麵 is "noodles with extracted sauce (e.g. extracting oil)"

  • 炸 fried (火 fire radical + phonetic 乍 zhà)
  • 醡 extract (酉 container + 窄 narrow; from 穴 hole and 乍) Archaic character for 榨 (tool for extraction process. 木 wood used to refer to tools in this case)
  • 醬 sauce
  • 麵 noodles

Alternatively, 酢醬麵 is also used. The Koreans have used this but it's now written 炸醬麵. I guess the difference is 醡 is a much older usage which is now replaced with 炸 in modern times. Taiwan tends to retain older usage.

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  • Can you provide a link of the 酢醬麵 or a related recipe? I just don't think it exists. – River Oct 14 at 1:55
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I'd like to say something different. 炸醬麵 is the only correct word.
We need to clarify why Zhajiangmian is called so. Zhajiangmian originated from Shandong Province, and the core of it is the sauce, Zhajiang. Usually, Zhajiang is cooked with minced pork and soybean paste stirred in large quantity of oil, which looks like deep-frying the sauce in the wok, thus it is called "deep-fried(炸) sauce(醬)". In Chinese wikipedia, the comment says "don't use '醡'醬麵", because the sauce is not extracted(醡) from anything.
P.S. A few food names in Taiwan are really weird because in those cases they just use arbitrary homophone to substitute the right character. Besides Zhajiangmian, there is Luroufan, or written there as 魯肉飯, but actually 滷肉飯 is the only correct word. This is because Luroufan means "rice with minced pork soaked in sauce", and 滷 means "soak food in sauce (usually liquid, soy-based salty sauce)", and 魯 means "rude" or an ancient calling for southern Shandong Province, which is entirely different(sigh)...

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  • In the same line of thought, when a waiter writes down 高湯, is it really 高湯? I don't know 湯 can be 高, or 低, for that matter. I tend to think it should be 膏湯. – joehua Oct 14 at 5:04
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    高汤 really means "high (level) stock", which originates from Cantonese cuisine terms. In Cantonese cuisine, stock made from lean pork meat and old hen is called 顶汤 ("top(-level) stock"), used for cooking the most expensive dishes. However, if you add twice as much water, you get 高汤 ("high(-level) stock"), which is thinner than 顶汤. The remaining solid in 顶汤 and 高汤 can be boiled again and, adding some salt, produce 二汤 ("second(-level) stock"). Then, 高汤 gradually becomes the word indicating "stock". – Aurus Huang Oct 14 at 5:56
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This is a translation error of wikipedia.

If you switch the entry to chinese, it will give you 炸醬麵.

https://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-hk/炸醬麵

醡 and 炸 do mean differently as stated by other answers. And I think the two words have been mixed up when they did the simplification on chinese.

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    Can you show us that one is an error rather than the two just being different? For instance if it were between en-us and en-uk you might have "aluminum" vs "aluminium" but that wouldn't show us that one is incorrect. After all, if it's an error, the same error occurs hundreds of thousands times on the Internet - the same order of magnitude as the other form. – hippietrail Feb 12 '14 at 13:55
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"醡" is not only tradtional spelling but also simplified spelling. So does "炸". "炸" can be used in both tradtional chinese and simplified chinese. "炸酱面", "炸醬麵", "醡酱面" and "醡醬麵" are all right. However, "炸" is used in mainland China, and "醡" is used in Taiwan usually. It seems like that "apartment" is used in the USA and "flat" is used in the Uk.

So the view of English Wiktionary is right. "醬麵" is the traditional variants of "酱面". "炸" has same spelling in both tradtional and simplified.

In addition to, Wikipedia is also right.

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  • Simplified Chinese use 榨 instead of 醡. – River Oct 14 at 2:03
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It is very clear if you search 醡醬麵 on google. All the results are about 炸酱面. I would simply say 醡醬麵 does not exist, it is a typo.

As is stated by other answers, 炸酱面 might be only known to the north, so if a southerner sees the word he might misunderstand it and miss-"spell" it.

I would be convinced if such a dish exists using the technique of 榨 to cook 酱 on 面, but I never saw one in life or found any online. I once thought 杂酱面 is a typo of 炸酱面 but finally found 杂酱 is a Sichuan dish, so I am convinced that 杂酱面 exists.

Ref: 為什麼是「炸」醬麵?而不是「醡」醬麵?

Even though I didn't use this reference in my answer, but I think this article is talking about the same thing. Here is a reference which is a Taiwan article correcting others that 醡醬麵 is the wrong "spelling". No such a dish.

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not sure about Taiwan, but in Hong Kong, most of the time people just use the word 炸 instead of 醡.

I don't think it's anything related to simplified/traditional wording coversion

It's simply because 炸 pronounce similar to 醡, and 炸 have way less strokes than 醡.

I mean, when you work as a waiter in any kind of food place, you really don't have that kind of time to write down this word with 20,30 strokes each and every time people order it, right?

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  • This probably depends on whether you're writing it manually or on a computer/phone/etc. My Chinese is not at a level to read handwriting so I mostly notice signs, printed menus, etc. – hippietrail Feb 11 '14 at 8:45
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It's just a difference of simplified vs tradtional.

Hong Kong and Taiwan tends to stick to tradtional, whereas mainland China uses simplified.

Think it is just Wikitionary lacking an entry for it.

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    Wiktionary has entries for each character but doesn't list them as simp/trad of each other. It also doesn't explain why there are spellings which then seem to mix some simplified and some mixed characters within a word. – hippietrail Feb 10 '14 at 16:36

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