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  5. "馒头和包子有什么不一样?"


Translation:What is the difference between steamed buns and buns?

December 5, 2017



For those unfamiliar, both are steamed buns made from wheat flour, but mantous are plain while baozis have a filling, normally either savory such as pork and gravy or egg and jiucai, or sweet such as the classic red bean paste.

From Wikipedia about origin of the name "mantou": A popular Chinese legend relates that the name mantou actually originated from the homophonous word mántóu, which literally means "barbarian's head". The legend was set in the Three Kingdoms period (220–280 CE) when Zhuge Liang (诸葛亮), the Chancellor of the state of Shu Han, led the Shu army on a campaign against Nanman forces in the southern lands of Shu, which correspond to roughly present-day Yunnan, China, and northern Myanmar. After subduing the Nanman king Meng Huo, Zhuge Liang led the army back to Shu, but met a swift-flowing river which defied all attempts to cross it. A barbarian lord informed him that in olden days, the barbarians would sacrifice 49 men and throw their heads into the river to appease the river deity and allow them to cross. As Zhuge Liang did not want to cause any more of his men to lose their lives, he ordered his men to slaughter the livestock the army brought along, and fill their meat into buns shaped roughly like human heads (round with a flat base). The buns were then thrown into the river. After a successful crossing, he named the bun "barbarian's head" (mántóu, 蛮头/蠻頭, which evolved into the modern 馒头/饅頭). Another version of the story relates back to Zhuge Liang's southern campaign when he instructed that his soldiers who had fallen sick from diarrhea and other illnesses in the swampy region be fed with steamed buns with meat or sweet fillings.


Thank you for sharing! It is funny, though, that both of those stories involve buns with filling, while today 馒头 refers to buns without filling.


Maybe depends on region? I regularly eat 馒头 with red bean filling in Zhejiang.


Interesting. I lived in Nanjing, not so far from Zhejiang, but there, as soon as there was any filling in them, they were not 馒头 anymore, but 包子.


If you considered that mantou also seems to be the origin word for manti of eastern europe (resembles XLB), mandu of Korea (steamed dumblngs) and manju of Japan (sweet steamed bun), it is possible that mantou started out as something made out of wheat, with fillings, for offering purpose. Gradually, as the dish spread, how the dough is made changed; how much filling is also changed, maybe more in some place, or eliminated altogether eventually.

Food can change drastically in short period for various reason, with Russian cuisine being a good modern example. Salad Olivier started out as a very luxurious salad, but evolved to use common ingredients. Borscht is another example: when White Russians escape to Shanghai of China, since beets is not popular in Shanghai, they replaced it with tomato; then some Hong Kong Chef learn it in Shanghai, and eventually become a common menu item in Cha'chan'teng (HK Tea Restaurants). All these take place in less than 60 years.

  • Baozi: Baozi
  • Mantou: Mantou


The mantou's in your photo look more like a roll than a bun. If they were all made in that shape, it would be easier to call mantous "steamed rolls" and baozis "steamed buns."

Unfortunately, when I googled “馒头”, half the photos show round balls while the other half show a roll or swirl pattern.

Even on youtube videos, one person made the dough into a bun shape while the other person flattened the dough and rolled it up.

It seems many of the English descriptions call 馒头 "Chinese steamed buns" or "steamed milk buns" while 包子 are typically called "steamed bao buns" or just "bao buns."

In addition to mantou and baozi, it might be useful to keep the words "steamed" or "bun" in the English translation. For instance, the official translation could use "(steamed) mantou bun" and "(steamed) bao bun" to differentiate the two.




??!! Are you saying that you think they're asking which letters are different in the two words, or am I missing something?


Sometimes we have to write things like "deep-fried dough sticks" and sometimes we can use the chinese words. The problem is that we don't know what is expected beforehand.


In my strong opinion on this, for culture-specific terms, especially names of local foods, the transliterated Chinese words in English letters should always be accepted as correct, whether or not an English word or phrase is also accepted.


From previous translations in the course, I actually believed this would translate as "What are the differences between steamed buns and steamed buns?" XD


I tried that response, not coming up with anything better at the moment, and it worked.


Writing to note that this sentence can also be interpreted in the singular, eg "What is the difference between mantou and baozi?" This is generally how this question would be produced imo.

Also in general to the team, I would suggest always having food names transcribed in pinyin like this. "Sticky rice dumpling" for "zongzi" is painfully awkward and even here in China when natives speak English we just call these things by their Chinese names.


Agreed. Although the English names for 馒头 and 包子 here are not really awkward on their own, in this sentence it doesn't work. "Steamed buns and buns"? It's redundant. These names also don't really show what specifically the food is.


I am glad though to have an English translation so that way least I have an idea of what sort of item we're talking about. It would be more ridiculous to talk about "word I've never heard before"and "other word I've never heard before".


Once upon a time we didn't know what sushi was, what pizza was. English is at its very foundation a borrowed language. New words are getting borrowed all the time. Lucky now, vs the times of unknown pizza and sushi, we have the internet to Google the word mantou and baozi.


I'm glad I now know that there is a difference between steamed buns and steamed buns! Thanks Duo! XD


Sounds pretty ridiculous in English.


So they translate 包子 as buns and 饅頭 as steamed buns where both are steamed?

I chosed "What is the difference between BUNS and STEAMED BUNS"

When it comes to food translation, i always want to quit Duolingo. IT SUCKS


If a Chinese friend helped me to translate a menu that had both items on it I would suggest "filled steamed buns" for "baozi" and "plain filled buns" for mantou. There simply aren't traditional English terms for these which are clear and unambiguous. When I'm in China talking English I use the Chinese words for both of these.


As I don't know the difference between steamed bun and steamed bun, I simply wrote What is the difference between mantou and baozi - and it was ACCEPTED! No need to quarrel:)


That's simply the best way to put this question in English, but they seem highly resistant to making it the default correct answer.


I know the difference between these two culinary items, but the sentence: "What is the difference between steamed buns and buns" is ridiculous in English. Use the original transliterated Chinese. If one didn't know this was a translation from Chinese it would make no sense at all.


I would just like to point out that when I typed "What are the differences between steamed buns and baozi" it told me to write "What is the difference between steamed buns and baozi" when in the sentence construction portion of this question it had me write the former.

I understand both translations, and believe both translations should be accepted. It is merely an error with consistency between the accepted translations in the two questions.

Thank you.


From what I know, mantou is just a solid piece of steamed dough, whereas baozi is a steamed bun with filling.


When you get it wrong for writing "What is the difference between buns and steamed buns" and then for writing "What is the difference between a steamed bun and a bun" after thinking you learned your lesson from the first time.


Lol steamed buns and buns ...i used to have both of these for breakfasts when working in a chinese school and they are definitely both different types of steamed buns..


What is the difference between steamed buns and buns? Really? Of course I know what a steamed bun is, and also what a "baked" bun is, and also a bun with out filling, but the "correct" translation is nonsense in English.


Mantou is not a bun. Just like pizza is called pizza everywhere, mantou and danbing should just be called that: we don't need a translation for things that we don't really have in the west.


This is the absolute stupidest sentence. I certainly know the difference between these two culinary items, but the English translation makes no sense whatever.


the answer duo provides is definitely wrong


"What is the difference between a steamed bun and a bun?" Reported 5th May 2020.


For those of us who stand no chance of getting back to China in the foreseeable future and don't have Mandarin-speaking friends, to have an English approximation of the foodstuffs is very helpful. I wouldn't necessarily expect a translation to stand up on its own when it relates to food and other cultural matters. I'm grateful for a free language app that includes both characters and sounds: textbooks omit at least the audio and often have no characters either.


Should it also accept "Are mantou and baozi the same"?


No, I think that would be: "… yí yàng ma/ … yí yàng bù yí yàng"
Here, we have "…yǒu shénme bù yí yáng", which is a different question.


Why is 馒头 "steamed bun" in one question and "mantou" in this question...?


Because they can't make up their mind on how best to render the Chinese word in English writing. Which is a real problem actually.


what is the difference between mantou and steamed bun?


Just that "mantou" is the Chinese word for a Chinese steamed bun. Or that "steamed bun" is the most typical English translation for the Chinese word "mantou".


does chinese language make differences between singular and plural?


No. Most pronouns and some nouns referring to people can take an 们 as a kind of suffix that makes it plural. There's also a plural alternative to a counter, 些, that can change the meaning of "zhe" from "this" to "these". But that's about it for anything like plurals in Chinese.

(It's pretty much like this for all East Asian and Southeast Asian languages by the way.)


You should be able to swap the words since it has the same meaning. In English it makes a lot more sense to put the unmodified term first by saying "What is the difference between buns and steamed buns?" Although that's still a bit strange because the names imply that one is a category for the other.


And as we all know; There is nothing like a dame... :-D


Your hints say 'steamed buns' and 'steamed buns with fillings' and yhen you mark this snswer wrong!!! I am disgusted with all the mistskes you are making!!!


Lost in translation.


What's is the conjunction for what is


if any one wants to know the difference between 馒头 and 包子. is that 馒头 has no filling and is smaller and usually for breakfast. They're a little boring in my opinion. 包子 is bigger and filled usually with chicken or beef or vegetables, sometimes sweet stuff and used for anytime of the day, breafast, lunch, as a snack on the go sandwich, before bed etc. Nice with a lot of chilli. you can buy them stemed in Chinatown or the frozen ones in the chinese supermarkets which you can steam or microwave them easly. I lived on them when living in Taiwan because they're nice and convenient.. there is also 挂包 which is similar with more stuff in the middle. if your vegan check the ingredients as some arw made with milk others are completely vegan.


Is it necessary to put it in plural form "buns"? Why "bun" is incorrect since the sentence didn't mention more than one bun.


As usual when I see questionable questions, I checked all the [REPORT] boxes even though none of them apply, to indicate the missing OTHER box.


Ha an interesting way to register a protest vote (-:


Whaaat???????????? :'(


The diference is that buns are in no way,shape or form steamed.


...except when they're mantou and baozi, which both are :)


Steamed buns are an Asian thing and western buns are never steamed that I know of. Then again my mum used to make a kind of dumplings that was a big ball of steamed dough. But we never called them "buns". They were always "dumplings", of which of course there are many other very different kinds.


I wrote 'what are the differences between...', was corrected to 'what is the difference between...' and come here to see that the default translation is exactly what I wrote. ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ seriously!?!?

Also, it would make learning far less frustrating if any sort of consistency would be added to the course. Please, decide whether to accept 'mantou' or 'steamed bun' and stick with it, ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤!


For consistency please do not use pinyin when speaking English . This makes little sense when there is an English translation


Many Chinese words have been added to English. The term bao is now currently being used in English for 包子. Here, more than anywhere, using the Chinese terms for Chinese cultural nouns makes most sense as the English terms for these two items shows no difference at all. Moreover using native words for cultural objects that have no English word is a better way to go, because its actually clearer and English is great at absorbing words from all languages.


I don't speak in letters. I speak in sounds.

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