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The Art of Chinese naming - Crossing the Cultural Great Wall
The Art of Chinese naming - Crossing the Cultural Great Wall
The Art of Chinese naming - Crossing the Cultural Great Wall
The Art of Chinese naming - Crossing the Cultural Great Wall
The Art of Chinese naming - Crossing the Cultural Great Wall
The Art of Chinese naming - Crossing the Cultural Great Wall
The Art of Chinese naming - Crossing the Cultural Great Wall
The Art of Chinese naming - Crossing the Cultural Great Wall
The Art of Chinese naming - Crossing the Cultural Great Wall
The Art of Chinese naming - Crossing the Cultural Great Wall
The Art of Chinese naming - Crossing the Cultural Great Wall
The Art of Chinese naming - Crossing the Cultural Great Wall
The Art of Chinese naming - Crossing the Cultural Great Wall
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The Art of Chinese naming - Crossing the Cultural Great Wall

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“I can translate the brand of my name into Chinese in one minute, why do I need to hire somebody to do it for me?” - Head of Sales and Marketing North Asia, Italian Sportswear Brand …

“I can translate the brand of my name into Chinese in one minute, why do I need to hire somebody to do it for me?” - Head of Sales and Marketing North Asia, Italian Sportswear Brand

We will answer this question with a name - Jackie Chan.
Jackie Chan, international movie star, probably is the second most famous Hong Kong actor following Bruce Lee.
Named Chan Kong Sang originally, Jackie made himself a stage name “成龍”, literally means ”Become a Dragon“.

In Chinese culture, dragon symbolizes power and prestige, thus it evolves an idiom ”望子成龍” (Wishing one’s son to become a dragon - to succeed some day).

Though a name per se cannot guarantee you to be as successful as Jackie Chan, a well-made name serves as a statement of your aspiration and definitely is a good start
to build up your charisma.

In this presentation, we presented the 3 common approaches in translating a foreign name into Chinese, and illustrated with some case studies of well-know international and Italian brands.

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  • 1. THE ART OF CHINESE NAMING - CROSSING THE CULTURAL GREATWALL PROJECT | Chinese Naming Case Studies © 1.618 Limited / 2013 all rights reserved
  • 2. “I can translate my brand into Chinese in one minute, why I need to hire somebody to do it for me?” Head of Sales and Marketing North Asia, Italian Sportswear Brand NOTES | Chinese Naming DATE | 11.09.2013 © 1.618 Limited / 2013 all rights reserved
  • 3. 01. TO WHOM WHO WISH TO BECOME A DRAGON JACKIE CHAN 成龍 Jackie Chan, international movie star, probably is the second most famous Hong Kong actor following Bruce Lee (李小龍). Named Chan Kong Sang (陳港生) originally, Jackie made himself a stage name “成龍”, literally means ”Become a Dragon“. In Chinese culture, dragon symbolizes power and prestige, thus it evolves an idiom ”望子成龍” (Wishing one’s son to become a dragon - to succeed some day) Though a name per se cannot guarantee you to be as successful as Jackie Chan, a good name serves as a statement of your aspiration and definitely is a good start to build up your charisma. NOTES | Chinese Naming DATE | 11.09.2013 © 1.618 Limited / 2013 all rights reserved
  • 4. 02. TRIGGER AN EMOTIONAL SPARK Chinese language is known as one of the oldest languages in the world, with over 5000 years of history. It is also well known for the root of pictogram origin. Since Chinese is a rich and deep language, the selection and application of a Chinese character to a brand is a delicate process. Traditional studies mainly cluster Chinese naming in 3 categories, sound translation(Phonological), meaning translation(Semantical) and mixed translation. PHONOLOGICAL EMOTIONAL SEMANTICAL As practitioners, irregardless of the technique, we usually only have one goal: translating the brand’s emotional element into Chinese, which can convey a deeper meaning and trigger emotional sparks. Like any other art pieces or poetries, there is no magic rule or formula to create a good Chinese name. The only shortcut is to learn, to think, to practise and to keep learning. We are going to walk you through some case studies from the most common sound translation, to the more rare emotion translation. At last we will showcase you some of our work for further discussion. NOTES | Chinese Naming DATE | 11.09.2013 © 1.618 Limited / 2013 all rights reserved
  • 5. 03. PHONOLOGICAL TRANSLATION WINE & LIQUOR AUTOMOTIVE FASHION BEAUTY & PHARMACEUTIC Bordeaux 波爾多 Armani 亞曼尼 Bayer 拜耳 - No Relevant Meaning - - No Relevant Meaning - - No Relevant Meaning - Name-Simplified Chinese 波 Ferrari 法拉利 - No Relevant Meaning - Name-Simplified Chinese Name-Simplified Chinese Name-Simplified Chinese 尔 多 Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) Bō (Bo1) Ěr (Ji5) Dōu (Do1) 法 拉 You/ That 亞 Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) Fǎ (Faat3) Meaning Wave/ Ball 利 Lā (Laai1) Lì (Lei6) 曼 Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) Yà (Aa3) Meaning More French/ Law Pull 尼 Màn (Maan6) Ní (Nei4) 拜 Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) Asia/ Second Beautiful Ěr (Yi2) Bài (Baai3) Meaning Profit 耳 Meaning Nun Worship Ear 63% According to a study*, when international brands translate their name in Chinese, 63% adopted Transliterate without Meaning. NOTES | Chinese Naming 37% About 37% of Chinese name is either equivalent to the meaning of original name, or elaborate the brand value/feature/function. DATE | 11.09.2013 © 1.618 Limited / 2013 all rights reserved
  • 6. 04. SEMANTICAL TRANSLATION WINE & LIQUOR FASHION Royal Salute 皇家禮炮 Lotus 蓮花 Iceberg 冰山 Viagra 威而鋼 - A Royal Gun Salute - - The Lotus Flower - - An Iceberg - - Powerful and hard - Name-Simplified Chinese 皇 AUTOMOTIVE Name-Simplified Chinese Name-Simplified Chinese Name-Simplified Chinese 家 礼 炮 Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) Huáng (Wong4) Jiā (Gaa1) Lǐ (Lai5) Family Courtesy 冰 Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) Pào (Paau3) Huā (Faa1) Lián (Lin4) Meaning Royal 花 莲 Lotus/ Water Lily 山 Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) Bīng (Bing1) Meaning Gun BEAUTY & PHARMACEUTIC Shān (Saan1) 威 而 Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) Wēi (Wai1) Meaning Flower Ice 钢 Ér (Yi4) Gāng (Gong3) Meaning Mountain Powerful And Steel 63% According to a study, when international brands translate their name in Chinese, 63% adopted Transliterate without Meaning. NOTES | Chinese Naming 37% About 37% of Chinese name is either equivalent to the meaning of original name, or elaborate the brand value/feature/function. DATE | 11.09.2013 © 1.618 Limited / 2013 all rights reserved
  • 7. 05. EMOTIONAL TRANSLATION While it remains a challenge to translate a name that both sound and meaning fitting the original brand name, a further challenge is to compose a poetic name that create strong emotional value that touches customers. Here are some good examples we would like to share. AUTOMOTIVE WINE & LIQUOR Moët & Hennessy 酩悅 ‧ 軒尼詩 BMW 寶馬 - Joyful to be Drunken - - A Treasurable Horse - While Henessey is just a sound transliteration, the essence of this name is from “Moët” to “酩 悅”. Name-Simplified Chinese 酩 悅 “酩” is a very classic and elegant description of somebody who is drunken. Like in English, there are a lot of words to describe “Happy” in Chinese, such as ”快樂“ (M: Kuài Lè, Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) Míng (Ming4) Yuè (Jyut6) comes from a poetry named “The Desk of Green Jade - Lantern Festival” by Xin Qiji at Song 宝 ⻢马 Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) depicts the poet chasing a lady, while it is Bǎo (Bou2) Mǎ (Maa5) believed to be a metaphor of the poet himself pursuing the supreme virtue. In one phase, it Meaning Hing3). Out of those words, “悅” is more other common forms. good name. The origin of this beautiful name Name-Simplified Chinese Dynasty(960 -1279AD). The poetry literally C: Faai3 Lok6) or “高興” (M: Gāo Xīng, C: Gou1 sophisticated and less widely used than the It is generally agreed “A Treasurable Horse” is a Meaning says, ‘ Precious horses and decorated carriages Drunk Happy come with a strong fragrance on the road.’ (寶馬 雕車香滿路) Thus Treasure Horse it generates a strong emotional association of grandness with the name. NOTES | Chinese Naming DATE | 11.09.2013 © 1.618 Limited / 2013 all rights reserved
  • 8. 05. EMOTIONAL TRANSLATION (CON’T) FASHION BEAUTY & PHARMACEUTIC Versace 范思哲 Revlon 露華濃 - Think Deep and Wise - - The Intense Beauty of Dew - Name-Simplified Chinese Versace is the surname of founder Mr. Gianni Versace and we can see a proper Chinese 范 思 哲 kings to assist his ruling in the empire. It is 华 浓 Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) at Tang Dynasty(618 - 906AC). Upon the Fàn (Faan6) Sī (Si1) Zhé (Zit3) often appealing to create names that relate to request of the Emperor, he wrote this “Song of Serene Melody” to praise the beauty of Lù (Lau6) Huá (Waa4) Nóng (Nung4) the Queen. This expression we believe Meaning deep thoughts and philosophy. We believe it also fits the Versace brand for her dedication to quality design. 露 was written by one of the most well known Chinese poets Li Bai. He was born Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) scholars and philosophers. In ancient China, governors were selected from scholars by the expresses an intense beauty”(春風拂檻露華 濃) naming translation for Versace. In a very long history of time, Chinese respected thinkers, Name-Simplified Chinese “With gentle touch of Spring wind, the dew A surname Think Meaning cannot match better than applying into Wise/ Philosophy a cosmetic brand. NOTES | Chinese Naming Dew Flourishing Strong/ Concentrated DATE | 11.09.2013 © 1.618 Limited / 2013 all rights reserved
  • 9. OUR PROPOSALS NOTES | Ad excellentiam - In pursuit of excellence DATE | 11.09.2013 © 1.618 Limited / 2013 all rights reserved
  • 10. 06. OUR PROPOSALS - CHIANTI & DAINESE WINE & LIQUOR AUTOMOTIVE Dainese 段寧捷 Chianti 瓊玉池 - The Reservoir of Precious Wines - Name-Simplified Chinese Chianti is a region in central Tuscany renowned for producing quality wine. In Chinese history and culture, wine has also - Victory in peace to every section - 玉 琼 池 played an important role and is associated with a lot a of great poetries. The first 2 characters in the translation, 瓊玉, literally refers to precious stones and jades. Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) a strong poetic sensation of “A Reservoir of Fine Wine”. and skiing. We adopted a people naming process for President Mr. Dainese and applied 段 捷 Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) surname, it will be better to translate a full Qióng (King4) Yù (Juk6) Chí (Ci4) name from the surname only. We selected a proper surname「段」,which could also mean Duàn (Dyun6) Níng (Ning4) Jié (Zit3) section/division. First name「寧捷」refers to Meaning referring to the fluid as precious as jade, 「瓊玉池」creates gear for extreme sports such as motorcycling the name as the brand. As Dainese is a This is also an abbreviation of 「瓊漿玉液」, which rhetorically means wine. As a result, Name-Simplified Chinese Dainese specializes in producing protective Meaning serenity and triumph respectively. Fitting Precious/ Elegant Jade Reservoir/ Pool perfectly with the industry Dainese is working in, the name delivers an overall meaning of Surname/ Section Serenity/ Peaceful Triumph/ Fast “Bringing victory to each section in peace”. NOTES | Chinese Naming DATE | 11.09.2013 © 1.618 Limited / 2013 all rights reserved
  • 11. 06. OUR PROPOSALS - HYDROGEN & BOTTEGA VERDE FASHION BEAUTY & PHARMACEUTIC Hydrogen 氫意 Bottega Verde 博雅綠意 - The Feeling of Light and Comfort - - A Variety of Elegance and a Feeling of Green - Hydrogen Jeans positions itself as an Italian Luxury Sportswear brands. With an explicit meaning of the name “Hydrogen”, it is very Bottega Verde is a cosmetic brand with a Name-Simplified Chinese passion for artisanship based on natural 意 氫 active ingredients .You may immediately 博 雅 綠 意 recall another luxury fashion brand Bottega tempting for a person to translate the brand into 「氫氣」 (M: Qiān Qì / C: Hing1 Hei3), Name-Simplified Chinese Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) Veneta. In Italian, “Bottega” refers to “Artist Pinyin-Mandarin (Cantonese) Workshop”. Bottega Veneta transliterated meaning exactly Hydrogen Gas. The character “氫” is very iconic and worth Qīng (Hing1) Yì (Ji3) keeping. We proposed the name 「氫意」, demonstrate the Italian origin. C: Bou2 Tai4 Gaa1) .The 3 characters Bó (Bok3) Yǎ (Ngaa5) Lù (Luk6) Yì (Ji3) individually means good and nice. Meaning which could express a Light and Comfortable feeling of Hydrogen clothes, and also “Bottega” into 「寶緹嘉」 (M: Bǎo Tí Jiā/ Hydrogen (Element) Meaning Considering Bottega Verde, it is not a wise Italy/ Feeling attempt to have another transliteration of “Bottega”. In fact, “Verde” stands for “Green Wide Elegant Green Italy/ Feeling colour”. As a result, we decided to focus on highlighting the natural and green feeling of the brand while conveying the message of elegance. NOTES | Chinese Naming DATE | 11.09.2013 © 1.618 Limited / 2013 all rights reserved
  • 12. 07. APPENDIX 1. Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese 2. Chinese People Naming The written system of Chinese language has a long uninterrupted development history and traditional Chinese is generally believed to be elegant for its A Chinese name usually is composed of 3 or 2 heritage . Traditional Chinese is still used in Taiwan, characters(occasionally 4), with Surname as the first Hong Kong and Macau. During 1950s and 1960s, character. There are several common approaches in China government initiated a reform to simplify translating a foreigner’s name into a Chinese name, Chinese characters, in order to lower the illiteracy such as translate a full name from the foreign First Mandarin is the official language of the People’s rate and created Simplified Chinese. It is now Name only, from only Surname, or even create a Republic of China and Taiwan. In southern China officially used in China. totally new name. There is no right or wrong and it Guangdong province, Cantonese is widely used and depends on needs and occasions. remains the first spoken language in Guangdong, 3. Mandarin and Cantonese Hong Kong and Macau. NOTES | Chinese Naming 4. Reference 100 Alon, I., Littrell, R. F., & Chan, A. K. K. (2009). Branding in China: Global Product Strategy Alternatives. Multinational Business Review, 17(4), 123-142. DATE | 11.09.2013 © 1.618 Limited / 2013 all rights reserved
  • 13. 08. CONTACT US info@1618group.hk T +852. 3563 8015 | W 1618group.hk R.1805, 18/F, Wai Wah Com. Centre, 6 Wilmer Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong 香港上環威利麻街6號 | 威華商業中心1805室 NOTES | Chinese Naming DATE | 11.09.2013 © 1.618 Limited / 2013 all rights reserved

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