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Thursday, 13 September 2018

宜家, 可口可乐, 蓝叫

Some brands when translated from English to Chinese are excellent! 

A bit of luck and loads of belly ink ;)

For example:

1)  IKEA - 宜家

It comes from 宜室宜家。Which means harmonious home and family. Excellent when buying furniture right?

2)  Coca-Cola - 可口可乐

Chinese characters that primary school kids can read and remember. Simple yet super effective! How not to associate drinking coke with sweetness and pleasure? 

Yes, I'm a coke guy ;)

3)  Then we have this...

This is crass.

I mean those in my generation would remember Nissan's Bluebird. That's an inside joke between Hokkiens and Teochews when we spot others riding this car. But that's totally unintended by the company. 

From the copywriting, the above idiot company knew what the chinese characters meant. Yup. the company is from Xiamen, Fujian.

White hat; black hat

There are snake oils, then there are snake oils...




  1. Hi SMOL,

    A good hallmark of a good translation is that the phonetics and meaning are both retained. Most will just focus on phonetics, so it sounds similar, but the meaning is lost entirely. It's like those Chinese translated MRT stations- it's just random words strung together to form meaningless babble, because the meaning behind the original is lost in translation.

    Here's a few that I like:
    1) Benz - 奔驰 (gallop)
    2) Nike - 耐克 (enduring and perseverance)
    3) Carrefour - 家乐福 (whole family joy and happiness)
    4) Pepsi cola - 百事可乐 (I like this, 100 things of happiness)

    5) Rolex - 劳力死 (work until die) LOL

    1. LP,

      For those of us that appreciate fine "craftsmanship", there's beauty all around us ;)

      Even better if we are conversant in more than 1 language/dialect other than england!

      The examples we both shared are simple, yet elegantly translated ;)

      Want to bet they are done by professionals who love their craft?

      Those meaningless babble for our MRT stations in translated Chinese have their roots from the meaningless babble in Chinese for our HDB new towns...

      And they in turn can trace their roots from our Singapore - 新加坡。

      Contrast it with Hong Kong - 香港。

      It clear for Singapore's case, england came first; while for HK's case, cantonese came first ;)

  2. Hi SMOL,

    Help me think of a chinese name for SnackFirst leh... haha! Anyway in advertising world, I think any form of attention, be it crass or vulgar or inappropriate is actually still 'good' for the company. It's a way to create lasting impression too!

    1. Jes,

      I do use innuendos and sexual analogies in my writings.

      To joke with 超级白 or 不要被老击败 would make people smile as its a clever use of word play ;)

      But that 蓝叫 ad is just vulgar... That's low class and opportunistic marketing.

      We have had some examples recently. Someone won gold medal? Some beloved animal died? Let's cash in on the media attention shamelessly!

      There are snake oils, then there are snake oils...

      OK, it'll cost you a cup of coffee if you use my suggestion:

      "小吃先" a word play on (仙)?

      If you need a cute fairy mascot, ask LP to draw you one!

      Friend don't "sabo" friend, what are friends for?


    2. Hmm, I can think of a few:

      1) 第一小吃
      Contains both the meaning of snack (小吃) first (第一) and the implied meaning of the best (第一) snack (小吃).

      2) 即时零食

      This one plays with the similar sounding word for snack (零食), with the word immediate (即时). Immediate suggest the delivery is quick and the satisfaction is immediate. Or maybe can even combine them together to form 即食, which immediate means fast snack, which has similar meaning from snack first.

    3. Jes,

      Another one that is more "local local":


      Other people do crowdfunding with money; we do "crowdfunding" with ideas!?


    4. CW,

      Thanks for your contribution!

      More options for Jes ;)

    5. Hi All,

      Wah thank you very much for all the suggestions. Gave me a lot of ideas but then luckily now no need Chinese name, haha!

      I prefer 2 words only though. Easier to pronounce and do the design :)

  3. I copy SMOL's idea - 先吃鲜吃 (eat first eat fresh) :) lol

    1. Haha, I should never be too busy to banter with friends :)

    2. LP,

      Well said!

      The butterfly and the grasshopper know how to chill ;)

    3. Snackfirst暴饮暴食

    4. Small Time Investor,





  4. Hi SMOL,

    With a litttlee bit more "creativity" involving Chinese and Hokkien, Somerset becomes......

    προσωπον βιβλιον could also be taken literally.....looking at how engrossed people are on the trains.

    1. Unintelligent Nerd,

      Lucky I recognise my Greek alphabets ;)

      You har!

  5. How about "Hai Domo"?

    If in other dialect it is horrible!

    Wangsa & Ya Fong were good at cross dialects jokes in their prime but usually in good sense.

    1. temperament,

      Yes, that's the beauty of growing up in a multi-cultural and multi-lingual environment ;)

      Take for example Singlish. We can't fully appreciate it if we don't know a bit of other Chinese dialects and some simple Malay words.

      Its fun to see youths in Singapore speaking in Korean. Just the other day, a bunch of young Singaporean girls were calling their friend to, "Pali-pali" in Korean. It meant "faster or hurry up"!

      My generation its J-pop. I also use "sumimasen" or "so des ne" with Singlish.

      Its a global village!


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