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[HugChina] Chapter 2:Chinese Syllable, meaning, and word (3)

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Bernd Chang

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Posted on Thu, May 19, 2011 09:39 AM 01926



This section presents the strategies that Chinese incorporates foreign words and naming foreign objects.

5. Incorporating foreign words and naming foreign objects

Chinese has not borrowed freely from other languages. However, when it incorporates foreign words into the language, it typically uses the following strategies:

• Adapting the foreign pronunciation to conform to the syllable structure of Chinese.


??? Luós?fú Roosevelt

?? Ji?móu Camus

??? Qi?jí?r Churchill

??? Nápòlún Napoleon

???? Sh?shìb?yà Shakespeare


?? b?sà pizza

??? hànb?ob?o hamburger

• Forming new words based on meaning or function.

When new items enter China, they often lose their foreign pronunciation and get new Chinese names that re?ect their meaning or function. Here are some examples:

?? diànshì television (electric vision)
?? diànn?o computer (electric brain)
?? diànchuán fax (electric transmission)
?? sh?uj? cell phone/mobile phone (hand machine)
?? règ?u (lit.) hot dog
?? wèix?ng satellite (protection star)

• Forming new words based on meaning while preserving the foreign pronunciation.

??? wàn  wéi  w?ng the world wide web (a net of10,000 connections)
?? k?lè cola (it can make you happy)
??? tu?l?j? tractor (drag pull machine)
??? mótu?ch? motorcycle (a vehicle you touch and support with your hands)
??? xìnyòng  k? credit card (trust card)
??? jíp?ch? jeep (lucky widely used vehicle)

Foreign companies often follow this principle when translating the names of their companies and their products into Chinese.

???? K?k?uk?lè Coca Cola [soft drink] (pleasant to drink and it can make you happy)
?? Fútè Ford [automobiles] (happiness – exceptional)
?? Tàizì Tide [laundry detergent] (eliminate stains and sludge)


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