This database contains a collection of Mandarin terms which have cultural, historical or sentimental value unique to Singapore. These terms may be used by Singaporeans in the past or at present. Some of the terms are read in print while others are used in our everyday conversations.
Food / Plants
A tropical fruit that is oval in shape like a lychee, with soft, green spines on its peel. The fruit turns red as it ripens, and has flesh that is white and juicy. It is known as the “Concubine of Fruits”.
The Mandarin term “ 红毛丹 ” is derived from the transliteration and paraphrase of the Malay word rambutan, and has been constructed in accordance with the rules of Mandarin. The Malay word rambut means “hair”, and the fruit was originally transliterated as “蓝毛丹”. However, as the peel turns red as the fruit ripens, the Mandarin name was paraphrased to mean “red hairy fruit”, using the term “红毛” (red hair). The final character “丹” is transliterated from the “tan” in rambutan.
Rambutans, along with lychees and longans, are plants belonging to the Sapindaceae family. They are native to Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Indochina, Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. There are many varieties of rambutan, with at least 187 varieties in Malaysia.
The Garden of Foolish Indulgences (“愚趣园”) refers to the rambutan plantation cultivated by the renowned expert in archaeology, Han Wai Toon, in 1936 after he bought two acres of semi-barren hills on the old Thomson Road with his savings of $700. (Lianhe Zaobao, 11/9/2018)
韶子, 毛荔枝 (Mainland China)
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cháo zhōu fàn guǒ
mǎ lái fēng guāng