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Babu Ji

Indian East Village

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#46 Steve R.

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 05:41 PM

I did wonder about the handwritten signs all over Chinatown.  Are they impeccable?  Would we worry about the restaurant in general if they weren't?  Or is there a difference between a written sign and presumably more costly wall decor?

 

(I don't have a position on any of this; just questions.)

 

As I have been told by bi and try-lingual friends when eating in Flushing and other C'towns, the signs are not always coherent in the "mother language" there either.  Hey, it's not like you won't find grammatical & spelling errors on English menus when the owners of the place are born here and raised with English being their primary language.  Like we didn't recently have a President who mis-pronounced & misused words and would probably misspell them as well.   However, you would think that a place like Babu Ji, already established in an almost English speaking country like Australia, would not paint its walls with this stuff. 


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#47 Wilfrid

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 05:47 PM

Yeah, menu mistakes abound.  I guess it shows a lack of care when the error is in something intended to be more lasting.

 

I keep thinking about the restaurant just off Leicester Square which had "DINNING ROOMS" embedded in a window.



#48 Sneakeater

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 05:48 PM

If there are errors in the Chinese-language signs hanging in "ethnic" Chinese restaurants, I'm sure they're the kind that native speakers make (like putting "your" instead "you're" in English).

 

I take it from mongo that the errors in the wall-writings at Bubu Ji  are not the type that a native speaker of Hindi would make.

 

What this does is put the "authenticity" of the restaurant into question.  Of course, the whole notion of "authenticity" is a fraught one subject to intense debate.  It is better not to try, though, than to try and then get it wrong.  Because then you're raising the issue yourself -- and resolving it against yourself.

 

I do agree with Mtichell that if Michael White misspelled a word in some Italian food proverb on a wall at one of his restaurants, we'd be all over him.  And think if it were Andy Ricker and Thai . . . .

 

ETA -- Cross-posted with Steve, who's saying the same thing.


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#49 Orik

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 05:56 PM

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#50 Wilfrid

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 05:59 PM

I'm probably just being slow, but what I think I'm hearing* is that the wall decorator took a transliterated version of an Indian text and put it back into the original script. It would indeed be bizarre to have a native Hindi speaker working from a transliterated text. I can't imagine why they'd do that rather than have the person copy an original version in script, which would be much easier for a non-Hindi speaker. It would be much easier for a non-Greek speaker, for example, to copy αλήθεια than to correctly render "aletheia" as αλήθεια; indeed I wonder if the latter would really be possible (ETA: okay, with software I guess you could, although not with regular translation software which wouldn't recognize the transliterated term).

 

I find it hard to infer anything about authenticity from someone handing a non-Hindi speaker a transliterated text and asking them to untransliterate it. Common sense and competence, yes.

 

But maybe we're wrong about what they did (heaven forfend).

 

*I may have misunderstood Mongo.



#51 Orik

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 06:06 PM

Someone who only knows the language very vaguely asked their dad, wrote it down in English, then mis-translated the phonetics.


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#52 mongo_jones

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 06:13 PM

Someone who only knows the language very vaguely asked their dad, wrote it down in English, then mis-translated the phonetics.

 

yes. it's not a question of misspelling, it's that they obviously don't know the language. and if that's the case, then why use it as part of your "authenticity" shtick?


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#53 Wilfrid

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 06:16 PM

If someone who doesn't know the language was trying to recreate Hindi script from a transliterated Roman version, I am only amazed they got any of it right.



#54 Neocon maudit

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 06:20 PM

I've been to restaurants that misspelled French dishes and wines, some of them outright howlers, and they were still good.  But I agree that's a little different from misspelling the maxims of [La?] Rochefoucauld on your walls.

 

I think the lower the price range, more casual the restaurant, the more likely I am to overlook this sort of thing [even were I aware of it].



#55 Wilfrid

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 06:22 PM

Mongo, would it help explain matters if the owner was Punjabi?



#56 Orik

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 06:23 PM

If someone who doesn't know the language was trying to recreate Hindi script from a transliterated Roman version, I am only amazed they got any of it right.

 

Yes, hence my assertion that they know it vaguely.

 

Our coffee shop is currently advertising "Home made corn ice cream"

 

Meaning of course ice cream that is served in a home made cone.


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#57 Wilfrid

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 06:25 PM

Yeah, Mongo said they obviously don't know it, but maybe he meant they knew it a bit. 



#58 mongo_jones

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 06:44 PM

do you mean would it make a difference in terms of pronunciation if they were punjabi? no, not really.

 

i'm guessing this restaurant is owned/operated by second gen indian-australians/americans who've basically transliterated their pronunciation of the words. 

 

there's nothing really offensive about it--it's just funny. despite being "modern" and "contemporary" they still feel the need to signal indianness (even if it's not in the stodgy old ways) but didn't get these things right. probably means nothing to the food but it's an ironic situation because they probably intend these signifiers to very much guarantee authenticity in general.


my annoying opinions: whisky, food and occasional cultural commentary

 

current restaurant review: house of curry (sri lankan in rosemount, mn)

 

current whisky review: glen ord 28

 

current recipe: white bean curry with green peppers

 

 

facts are meaningless. you could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
~homer simpson


 


#59 Wilfrid

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 07:38 PM

I thought Punjabi was written in a different script, and that the owner might therefore have overlooked errors (which surely goes to attention to detail rather than authenticity). But I may be quite wrong.

The owner's story is online (born in India, left aged 9) as are photos of their other restaurants with similar decor.

#60 Wilfrid

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 07:48 PM

Do we think they're striving for authenticity?  I see putting up some "Indian" signifiers as something different from that.

 

Jessi and Jennifer Singh, the team who created three acclaimed Australian restaurants, Dhaba at the Mill (sold in 2013), Horn Please and Babu Ji bring their signature creative and modern approach to casual Indian dining to NYC’s Alphabet City.

 







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