Thursday, April 10, 2008

Beijing Trip

So I and some other teachers from the college went to Beijing this past weekend. In a word the trip was "excellent". We had great food, great drinks, didn't have to dodge spit, hell we even broke into the Olympic contruction site "accidentally".

The crazy part was coming back to Zhengzhou, because when you are here you forget what it is like "out there". In the real world, where it is clean and garbage isn't thrown willy nilly into the street. It was saddening to come back, yet not 3 days later I was riding my bike to the supermarket and saw a little concert on the side of the road and felt happy that I am experiencing this lifestyle in this part of the world, because how many people will never do this?

So I decided to reup my contract and sign up for another six months, if only because they will pay for me to come back, making like $500 a month makes it difficult to be a jetsetter. At first, I was scared to do this but now I am excited because I know that if I can live here I can live anywhere.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Coca-Cola (可口可乐)

What's on tap for today? Well Coca-Cola only the most recognizable logo in the world. As an added bonus it is in a glass bottle which I bought for 1 RMB which is like $0.12 so it wasn't too expensive to get it on here. Whoever Coke pays to do their translation did an amazing job with this one. Not only does it look a lot like the original but it has meaning also.

So the brand reads 可(ke)口(kou)可(ke, again)乐(le) so phonetically it is kekou kele, very similiar right? What is crazy is that it has a good meaning in Chinese as well. As was shown yesterday with Maxwell house most brands have no literal meaning, but the translator earned their salt with this one. 可 (Ke) means "use" but it can also be used for emphasis. Kou (口) literally means mouth or opening, in this case it is mouth though. We see ke again and once again it is used for emphasis. And finally, 乐 (le), which means happy or satisfied. So taken all together 可口可乐 literally means an extra happy mouth. Strange in English but in Chinese it works beautifully, they love talking in metaphor and hyperbole so it definitely works and it sounds very similar.

So all in all Coke's Brand is pretty well translated into Chinese.

What's on tap for tomorrow? Skippy Peanut Butter (creamy none of that chunky crap).

Manifesto and Maisiweier (Maxwell House)

This will be the manifesto of this new blog entitled, "Familiar Brands (in a foreign Language)". The goal of this is to show people one of my favorite hobbies and that is looking for familiar brands (at least to western eyes) translated into Chinese. I will post at least one pic a day with the brand and brand history to show the peeps what it is all about. This site will not be about knockoff brands but more about foreign brands trying to break into the market here in the middle kingdom. As far as I know this the first site dedicated to talking about and cataloging translated brands.

The first one is always "Good to the Last Drop"

This is a phonetic translation (like most western brands in China) with 麥(mai) being the first character which means grain. 斯 (si) is the next character and it means "that". The next character is 威(wei) which is a verb meaning to take by force. And the last is 爾 (er) or (thou, you, that).

So as you can see the brand 麥斯威爾 or maisi weier (Maxwell) is a close approximation to the sound of the brand and has no literal meaning in Chinese. The pinyin maisiweier looks like it could be a German beer right? This is a common issue when it comes to translating brands. It seems the company is more intent on keeping the sound of the name than the meaning of the name. Also notice the font and color scheme is the same, even without knowing it is Maxwell House if you take the brand and look at it you can tell it is supposed to be Maxwell house(a neat trick in my opinion). There is much more to come and there is a mountain of translated brands that have yet to be analyzed in a large collection.