Photo of the Day: Scarlett the Soup Dumpling

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9:00 PM HKT, Sat May 12, 2018 1 mins read

As the Met Gala sets tongues wagging about US celebs and their outfits — and following Nick Kapur’s fantastic thread on Chinese names for NBA players — we’re using our weekly photo theme to dig into some of the more unusual Mandarin Monikers for Foreign Stars.

While most Han Chinese people’s names consist of two or three characters, Scarlett Johansson’s name doesn’t get any more succinct when turned into Chinese — at least not officially. Her proper Chinese name is 斯嘉丽·约翰逊 (sijiali yuehansun) a fairly conventional transliteration.

When it comes to nicknames, she’s sometimes referred to as 黑寡 (hei gua) or 黑寡姐 (hei gua jie): Black Widow or Black Widow Sister, names which of course refer to her role in the sprawling Avengers franchise and are currently popping up all over the Chinese internet thanks to that film behemoth’s latest instalment.

Far more interesting however is another, lesser-used name for the movie star: 汤包 (tangbao) which literally means “soup dumpling”. We like the way this punctures any potential Hollywood pomposity — tangbao are well-loved, but they’re not exactly synonymous with glamor — but alas the origin story here leaves us feeling a little deflated, like a dumpling with the soup sucked out.

Turns out, according to many a source on the Chinese interwebs, that Johansson earned the name on a visit to Shanghai back in 2011. She was here to plug Moet, but took the opportunity to indulge in some tangbao while here. And, err, well that’s pretty much it. Apparently it was a slightly messy experience, as eating tangbao for the first time is for most people, but we’re yet to track down any photos of the incident in question.

Anyway, tangbao > Black Widow in our book.

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