In the following children's fantasy-adventure book, written for British children in the context of the British empire:

Arthur Ransome, "Missee Lee", Jonathan Cape, London, 1941

English children have been captured by pirates near Guangdong. When the captors bring food to their prisoners, sometimes they say "man fan." From context, this appears to be the evening meal. What is the Cantonese word? The phrase "chiu fan" also appears in this book, which I recognize as Cantonese for "chi fan," but I have been unable to identify "man fan". In context, it could not possibly mean 滿帆 mǎn fān, under full sail or going as fast as possible.

At https://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/words/1258/ we find that 晚餐 maan5 caan1 means evening meal.

Is there some nearby, southern Chinese dialect in which caan1 turns into fan?

Another possibility is that the author Arthur Ransome was sloppy and wrote "fan" when he should have written "caan". At https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missee_Lee we find:

Ransome visited China in 1926 and 1927, where he learned about Chinese life and culture. He also met, amongst others Soong Ching-ling, the wife of Sun Yat-sen.

By the time he wrote this novel, perhaps he simply forgot his Chinese.

  • Chi fan is Mandarin, Cantonese speakers would normally say sik faan, 食饭. Perhaps chiu fan is 早饭, breakfast! Commented Apr 26 at 2:30
  • Since when has 晚飯 not been an acceptable synonym for 晚餐 in Mandarin or Cantonese? I would dare say that 晚飯 is actually the dominant form, and 晚餐 is more formal and restricted in use. <For reference, Min varieties generally use very different lexemes, such as 暝 and 暗頓, as the usual way of saying the evening meal.>
    – Michaelyus
    Commented Apr 26 at 13:05
  • @河南宝宝 I don't think Chiu Fan means早饭 in Cantonese, it sounds more like 炒饭 Commented Apr 27 at 2:13

1 Answer 1


晚 maan5: evening, night


飯 faan6: cooked rice, meal


so, "man fan." means dinner 😸

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