Survey: bowl person, plate person


Please see followup post and discussion here.  You can still vote, below, but I’ve closed comments on this post so everything can go to the followup post.]

Line up! Vote early, vote often. No one needs to register. Bring your spouses, kids and friends. Since Sinoglot readership is probably biased towards non-native speakers of Chinese, Zhonglish speakers please get your native-speaking friends to take a look at these pics and the question below:

Discussion coming soon, as soon as we have enough votes. The only rule is to please answer the question only for your native language!

Native speakers of Chinese

[poll id=”4″]

Native speakers of English

[poll id=”3″]

Native speakers of other languages (with endless apologies for grouping everyone into one “other” category — we can sort out categorization differences in the comments later)

[poll id=”5″]

15 responses to “Survey: bowl person, plate person”

  1. Porfiriy says:


    My standard is that if I can eat a “mostly liquid” food in it – for example, cereal, or soup – it’s a bowl.

    So for me this is a bowl. Barely. But I’ve eaten cereal in dishware like this one before in China.

  2. My vote is Plowl. Ok fine. A very very shallow bowl. But like Porfiry, it’s just barely a bowl.

    I asked the closest native Mandarin speaker and was told “plate” so I added that vote.

  3. Syz says:

    Yeah, wise guys, I thought about a “none of the above” option but decided crunchy was better than soggy.

  4. André says:

    None of the above!

    There’s gotta be a word in both English and Chinese for this thing here! If Norwegian got it, you guys gotta have it.

  5. Max says:

    We call these things a “soup plate”. Because it’s a plate which is like a bowl 😉
    I nevertheless voted bowl…

  6. André: I was thinking that too. Hell, we have “spork” for Christ’s sake.

    Soup plate has a nice ring to it.

    This whole thing reminds me also of the plastic bottles with can tops you can find at some Chinese supermarkets. The next survey should be if that’s a can or a bottle.

  7. Chris says:

    In dutch we also call it a soup-plate, we don’t consider it a bowl, bowls are deeper, when measured from the inside edge to the bottom you should at least have approx 7 cm

  8. Aaron Posehn says:

    This exercise reminds me of the entry from 韩少功’s 马桥词典. The “River” entry [江] shows that one’s understanding of the word differs depending on the language that one is speaking. Although this is comparing one Chinese dialect to another, it shows that if one speaks the Maqiao dialect, 江 could refer to not only “vast bodies of water, but to all waterways, including small ditches ans streams.”

    It goes on also to say that “[i]n English, difference in size can be expressed by “stream” or “river.” Yet in French, fleuve refers to rivers entering the sea and rivière indicates an inland river or tributary entering another river, while size remains unspecified. It seems that the world contains many systems of naming, which do not necessarily relate to each other.”

  9. Julie says:

    I don’t want to call it a bowl or a plate either… the wide rim (more than the depth) makes it un-bowl like to me.

  10. John says:

    Brilliant! I like.

    I’d call it a “shallow bowl,” so forced to choose between bowl and plate, I went with bowl.

  11. Duncan says:

    You put things on a plate, and in a bowl. This clearly has enough depth that you can put things completely into it – it’s a shallow bowl.

  12. Julen says:

    Wow, I am surprised so many native English voted bowl. In Spanish it is clearly a plate, and it has a name: soup plate (plato sopero). I would have thought in English it would be similar.

    Oh, I just note above there is a Dutch guy that agrees with me!

  13. Lisa says:

    It’s a pasta bowl or a soup plate. Here’s a link for some examples:

  14. Therese says:

    Native French (first) and English (close second) speaker; would (and do) call it a “plate” either way.

  15. Syz says:

    Thanks everyone for the insights. I’ve closed comments here so we can continue on the update post.