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A WORD IN THE HAND: CHINA

Ketchup session: to chow with the chinas or chuck tomatoes at the shogun?

One of my favourite lame jokes (and I do so love lame jokes) involves a small tomato with short legs who is lagging behind the rest of his family as they make their way to a hot-dog stall. The father tomato, exasperated with the infant’s progress, eventually marches back to the baby tomato and, red-faced, stomps on him. The little tomato splatters all over the pavement while the enraged father tomato shouts: “Ketchup!”

The word “ketchup”, which thanks to US influences has become more common in SA alongside “tomato sauce”, came to English from a Chinese dialect, thought to be originally either Fujianese for fish sauce or Mandarin for eggplant sauce...

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