We’re not starting a cult but some followers on Instagram would be nice. Thank you.
A video of a woman completely mispronouncing the name of Taiwanese restaurant Din Tai Fung has gone viral for all the wrong reasons.
In a video posted on Dec. 24 2022, user Joelle Uzyel (@joelleuzyel) says, “Second day in a row, we come to this Ding Fung Choong place.”
@joelleuzyel din tai fung #resturantlife ♬ original sound – Joelle Uzyel
She is quickly corrected by a younger man, who is believed to be her son: “You’re wrong. You managed to say all three words wrong. It’s Din Tai Fung.”
But instead of apologising and correcting herself, Joelle nods and says “that” while pointing to him.
Interestingly, Joelle did manage to get the spelling of the restaurant name right in her caption.
She goes on to review the restaurant, saying that she “[doesn’t] understand the hype”, and that “it’s cute”, but “not something to wait three hours in line for”.
It did not end well
Although the video was posted in late December, backlash picked up pace well into January.
People went off in the comments section, with some accusing Joelle of being “racist” and “ignorant”.
Some had nothing but praise for the young man who corrected her.
While a few thought it was no big deal.
Others made videos to call her out.
“I can’t believe you’re not obscenely embarrassed of filming, posting and editing that video,” says Momo (@momo.said.no).
@momo.said.no #greenscreenvideo 🙂 #racism #easian #dintaifung #soupdumplings #aahate ♬ original sound – Momo
Hannah Hong (@hnnhseh) did not mince words in her assessment of Joelle’s video.
“People who are like, so talentless and so genuinely bland, they resort to like, casual racism and microagressive statements and comments,” she says.
@hnnhseh #stitch with @joelleuzyel just do better. Make beyter content idk jts just getting annoying atp #fyp #foryoupage ♬ original sound – hannah hong ⚡️
Others responded with humour—giving Joelle a taste of her own medicine by hilariously mispronouncing the names of American restaurants.
@itsyoboyivannn Oh but y’all can pronounce Daenerys Targaryen FLAWLESSLY #greenscreen #fyp #asian #asians #asiantiktok #chinese #dintaifung ♬ original sound – ivandang🧧
@mochi_jae I still don’t get how you can mispronounce Din Tai Fung that badly, it’s not that hard at all. ib@ivandang🧧 #dintaifung #asiantiktok #asians #asianamerican #asian #chinese #asianfood ♬ original sound – Jae-Hope
@jazephua If you can pronounce #DaenerysTargaryen FLAWLESSLY you can pronounce ✨Ding Tai Feng✨ too #DingFangChoo #DingTaiFeng ♬ original sound – Jaze Phua
Joelle has not responded to any of the backlash and continues to post regularly on TikTok.
However, NextShark reports that the offending video had been removed temporarily before being reuploaded.
What’s the big deal?
We get it. Mandarin is hard.
I feel I’m qualified to say this as a person who has had 12 years of formal education in the language, but still struggles to have a full conversation in Mandarin.
But mispronouncing already-romanised words that sound exactly the way they are spelt is questionable, to say the least.
Joelle’s reaction after she was corrected has also made many viewers believe that she did it on purpose to mock the language.
A commentary by the Los Angeles Times explains that “mispronouncing someone’s name, accidentally or on purpose, at the very least demonstrates a selective laziness to learn the correct way to address or acknowledge a person”.
It files such as instances as “casual racism,” and argues that the act invalidates them culturally.
Din Tai Fung may just be the name of a beloved restaurant, but people have pointed out that Joelle had no problem with the less intuitively spelt Turkish word “sucuk” in this video:
@joelleuzyel Turkish Sucuk, yummmm! Sucuk is a semi-dried beef-based sausage made by a dry-curing process. Its delicious. #foodie #turkishfood #lunchspot #foodtiktok #turkish #sucuk #fyp ♬ original sound – Joelle Uzyel
Top image via @joelleuzyel/TikTok
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