The Translated Term and Culture

Table of Content

the translation of the exported commoditiesThe translation of trademark is a very complicated work. The exported commodities are the windows to show the national culture to the other countries. In the five thousand years’ long history, China has kept up its fine tradition, and also it has bequeathed much culture tradition. So when we do the translation of the Chinese trademark, two things we must pay special attention.

First, we must consider the specialties and try to keep their own national color. For example, many names of commodities in our country are connected with some mountains, rivers and interests. If we keep these images in the translated term of another language, it will give us great benefits to propaganda the products. For example, some traditional things in China are well-known to the English readers even to the world, such as “kungfu” and Great Wall. When we translate them, we have no need to do any transformation. To the English readers, these kinds of translated names are not only easy to accept, but also have the exoticism.

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Another example, “??” is also used as a trademark. Why we don’t simply translate “??” into “Jade Rabbit” and give it an English name “Moon Rabbit”. Originally in Chinese fairy tales,“??” is the rabbit which accompanied with Mr Wugang living under the sweet-scented osmanthus in the moon. Therefore, “??” is the pronoun of moon. Here, translating it into “moon rabbit” is just embodies the elegant demeanour of our ancient culture.

1.2 Different likes to different thingsAccording to the Chinese tradition, many trademarks are named with the name of fowl, animal and plants. However, to the same animal or plant, different nation has different likes and dislikes. If we are not familiar with the customs in different countries, what we done may become nothing. For example, British people don’t like elephant. They like bear instead. Italian and spainese are fond of rose. They don’t have good feeling of chrysanthemum .Lotus, fox and badger are taboo to the Japanese people. They like cherry, tortotise and duck. Russian think that yellow rose means not lucky and it break off relations. However, French people and Belgium regard walnut, peacock and chrysanthemum as unlucky things. The design of dog are taboo in some north affrica countries. Pig and dog are also not welcomed in Islamic countries.

In Chinese, “??” has the meaning of “reporting the coming of spring and happy”. In English “magpie”(??) gives us the association of jaw and prolixity. In English “ram” not only has the meaning of “??” but also has the meaning of collision. So the bicycle named with “ram” unavoidably will give people the feeling of go on rampage. Almost for the same reason, in Chinese, “??”represents “lucky and beauty”, in English, phoenix meanings rebirth. It gives them the feeling of waking up from death.

“WHITE ELEPHANT” translated from “??”, is regarded as rubbish in western country. Another example, “dragon” is always the symbol of riches ,honors,power,authority and luck in the several thousands years’ history in China. It is one of the most respectable animals to all the Chinese. There are many Chinese idioms and stories are about dragon. All the things linked with dragon are good and righteous. However,in western countries, most countries look dragon as the embodiment of evil and disaster. Let’s have a suppose, if we Chinese people don’t know the culture difference between us and western countries, and we use “WHITE ELEPHANT” or “DRAGON” as the brands of some of our products which will be exported to foreign countries. What kind of effects we will get? I think we all know it. That is also a shame to our Chinese. To colours, different places also have different interests. For example, blue is taboo to Belgium. They think blue is not a lucky color. Japanese don’t like green which Indians like it very much. Turkey people don’t like the combination of different colors.

Also different countries have different fancies to different words. According to the investigation, Japanese like the Chinese words “?” “?” “?” “?” “?”, and so on. Chinese like woeds “?” “?” “?” “?” and so on. According to Irving Wallace, an American writer, the most beautiful English words are chime(??), golden(???), lullaby(???), melody(??),murmuring(??)1.3 Some translated term may have some unexpected meaning in another languge1.3.1 Different meaning in different languageIn some distance, the brand directly influences the prospect of the commodities. So the producer try hard to give it the lucky and beautiful words., However, different countries have different folk custom. They have different criterion to the beauty and luck. Some words are really beautiful in Chinese. They will have different effects and meanings once they are translated into English directly. In order to avoid these kinds of misunderstanding, before our products enter the international market, we have to know the different culture in different countries. In another word, we must know the taste of beauty of the people in the foreign land. Otherwise, we will make mistake in the process of translation. One lipstick in China named “??”in Chinese ,this name is really very beautiful when we see these two words “??”. It is the beautiful association rised from the heart. It seems that we not only meet a pretty girl, but also smell the flavor from her. However, when this trademark translated to English in transliteration like “fangfang”, it will give the English readers a kind of horrible feeling. Because “fang” is also a English word, the word meaning is (!) along,sharp-tooth of a dog; (2) a snake, a poison-tooth. So what “fangfang” give them is not the image of a pretty girl. On the contrary, it give the English natives the image of a horrible dog or a poisonous snake.

Try to respect the national psychology of the corresponding countries. For example, most western people prefer to gettting a slim stature. So if the tradeamark has any hints that the consumer are too fat, surely the user will not buy them just for the sake of peacockery. And these kind of product obviously will not get good market.“??” produced in West Lake in Hangzhou is a famous nutrious food. All the Chinese offsprings know that it had been used as tribute to the emperor. But seldom foreigners know it. When this food is exported to foreign countries with the translated name “lotus root starch”, still many people don’t want to buy. This translated term is gotten from the authoritative Chinese to English dictionary. Why? The reason is that many western are afraid of getting fat. At the same time, it is easy to get fat when people eat too much “starch”. So in order to ingratiate the psychology of the consumer, later ,the translator changed “starch” into “powder” or “pudding”. And the buyers obviously added.

Almost the same example, “?????” is the major product in the famous Chinese traditional medicine factory in Hangzhou. First, its translated term is “obesity-reducing tablets”. Still the American people don’t like this name. They think that it’s the specialized medicine to the obese people. So many fatsos don’t want to buy it for the sake of shame. In fact, this medicine can not only cure the adiposity, but also can make people lose weight. So as to satisfy the comsumer, changing the name into “sliming pills” gain great success.

some translated term are the same meaning to the original meaning in Chinese. However, some of them still be can’t be used as a trademark to the foreign consumers. That is because the some translated term will cause misunderstanding or political metaphor.

For example,“??”,a brand of a kind of plimsolls, onced has been translated to “ROC”. “??” is a fairy bird in Chinese mythology. In British, it also has the same meaning. However, in coincidence, “ROC”is rightly the abbreviation of the Republic of China. So it is not suitable to be used as a brand of plimsolls We have known that it is a failure to translate “??” into “WHITE ELEPHANT”. However , it is a success to translate “??” into “WHITE BEAR”. On the basis of the Chinese-English dictionary printed by Beijing foreign language colleage, the first translated term of “??” is “polar bear”. White bear is just the second term. That is because “polar bear” is more former than “white bear. Whereas in recent year, with the development of the international political situation, “polar bear” has some other meaning that are linking with a kind of political power. Therefore, as a trademark ,it is better not have any involvement to do with political event and title. For the sake of this situation, “white bear” is more suitable to choose as the trademark of “??” than “polar bear”.

II the translation of the imported commoditiesNow our country is open to the world, and the trade exchange is becoming more and more frequent. So many feoreign products have come into our Chinese market. Why some commodities have good market and bright future, and some others are not so optimistical. I think the quality of the translation of the trademark is a very important factor.In the next part, I will take “????” as example, and analyse why some translated trademarks are successful and some are unseccessful. 2.1. A perfect translated term comes from the combination of sound and meaning2.1.1 What is the combination of sound and meaning?Since Chinese is the most meaningful language in the word, when our Chinese translator does this kind of translation, we have our unique method. That is to say, we don’t do it all by the traditional methods.(transliteration or free translation). Sometimes if we do it by giving consideration to both sound and meaning, we can get an unexpected effect. That means the pronunciation of the translated name is the partial tone of the original sound, not strictly the same to the original. This method can give us a bigger space to take advantage of the multivalent messages of the Chinese. The translated terms getting from this kind of method are always very vivid, lively, distinctive, fresh and striking. Since they have practical meaning, they can arouse the consumptive desire of the consumer. They also can give the consumers a lot of imaginations of the products and it is convenient for the consumer to remember the products. Thereby this adapts the requirement of the commercial world.2.1.2 Analyse from “cola-cola” How “coca-cola” reaches the pecfect combination of sound and meaningAll the people in China know the beverage “????”. It is translated from its English name “Coca-cola”. According to the “compendious British encyclopedia” its accurate Chinese translated term is “??”. “Coca” is belong to the coca section’s frutex in tropic. Now they are grown in Africa , south America, south-east Asia and China Tibet. Its leaves are the raw material of cocaine. Translation, naming often can bring some unexpected effects to itself of the object. “coca” once was regarded as the hallowed grass by the Indian autochthonism. But it was translated as “??” by the Chinese, then it become one kind of poisonous grass. That is because nowadays one of the main drug cocaine is extracted from the leaf of the coca. However, what is fantastic is that when we change another translation method, and “??” becomes “??”, and when it is conjoined with “cola”(??), it soon becomes one of the best words of expression“????”, Since it is vivid and can exactly express the idea, it is accepted by the Chinese very soon.Why “????” is a perfect translated term? That is because it vividly embodies the fresh, delighted feeling of this beverage. The most obivious feeling it gives the consumers is that it is not only “??” but also “??”. The translated term itself can sharp people’s appetite. It really has “the feeling that can’t reject”.(message of coca-cola) Maybe just because of this, “????” has become the pronoun of the beverage in China. in Japan, “Coca-cola” is translated into”????”. However this name can not recall any imagination in Japanese. It is all by memory that today Japanese people can remember this name. If we understand the consciousness of we Chinese in choosing names, it is not hard for us to understand why we give “Coca Cola” a Chinese name “????”. In pronunciation, “????” is not identical to “Coca Cola”,even can’t compare with “????”. However, in meaning, the comfortable and salubrious feeling that “????” brings people is what “????” can’t reach. “????” is closer to the fumet of “Coca Cola”. There is another successful translation example of this kind, that is “?? ”. It also a product from “coca cola” company. “??“ is the translated Chinese name of “Sprite”. It is also an excellent translated name. The pronunciation is close to the original sound. The content is mainly about feeling. “?”is cool, and “?” is green. The name is abbreviated and striking. In a very hot summer, only seeing the two words “??“ surely we will have the feeling of “???,???” ,and it really make people be envious and thirsty. Let’s take the famous American sports shoes “NIKE” as example, its phonetic symbol is Naiki:. The original meaning is the triumphant goddess in the fairy tale of ancient Greek. If we translate it strictly according to the phonetic symbol, it should be translated to “??”or “??”and so on. To the Chinese, it is hard for them to understand what does it mean. So when the translator translates this name, what he think should not only the imitation of its phonetic effects, he should also take consideration to the durable feature of the sport shoes. So the name “??”comes forth. It includes the meaning of sturdy and durable. Also it has the meaning of conquering the enemy. At it happens to have the same meaning with the goddess of ancient Greek.

“Pizza nut” now is translated into “???”. This tranlated name has nothing to do with the fast food. And it loses the familiarity and kindness of the food to the Chinese customer. Someone said that “???”is a better name . At least it is more practical. “??”is the transliteration of “Pizza”. “?”is to describe the kind of the food. What is more, it can recall the imagination of the beautiful Italian sight leaning tower of Pisa. The centuries-old culture traditionIn English, Coca-cola doesn’t has so many meaning and imagination to English speaking natives as Chinese. I think that is the culture difference. From this, we can see at least two things that Chinese culture different from western culture. In ancient time, Confucious, the representative of Confucianism, pointed the importance of choosing the best name. The famous Chinese logion “???????,???????” comes from his work “the Analects”. That means a good name can always make things easy to go. In Qing dynasty, when minister Lihongzhang was sent to Russia on a diplomatic event, he asked his translator to translate some daily used vocabulary into Chinese which is almost the same pronunciation to the original sounds,and it has some practical meaning in Chinese. So that it is convenient for him to remember it. From this, we can see that from ancient China, our ancestors already like the names which are significant in meaning and can enlighten the association. They were singularly prudential in diction. They want the choosing name which are perfect both in the meaning and pronunciation. That is why we have stories which is about some very famous writers or poets always spend several days even years just for a word.

2.1.3 The language imagination exist in our ChineseFrom another angel, we can find that we Chinese people exist language imagination. Originally, all people has this kind of feeling. However, it is especially obvious to our Chinese. We particularly like to say lucky words. In China, if not given or formed by nature, most of us like to choose the words that can include all the good wishes as the name of people’s name, place name, street name, mountain or river name, courtyard name, commodity or trademark name and so on.

The biggest electronic instrument and small computer company Hewlett-Packard Co. is founded by W.Hewlett and D.Packard. This name is combined the names of the two founders. In a very long time, according to the transliteration,“???-?????”is used as the in the main land of China. In recent years, it was substituted by another name “??”,which are popular in Hongkong and Tibet. That is because “?” and “?” are the lucky words in chinese. When we Chinese people see this name , the imagination of “????”is obviously emerged. It is clearly that this name is better that the former one, which is hard to remember and does not have any practical meaning connected to company.When Mrzhen, a famous entrepreneur in Hongkong, was starting an undertaking, he produced a kind of necktie “Gold Lion”. According to literal translation, the accurate Chinese name is “??”. Then Mrzhen adopted this name at first. However, the sells in China is very bad. And he asked for help to a famous friend in commercial circle. This friend told him that the quality of his necktie is pretty good, but the Chinese name is not suitable. At first, Mrzhen didn’t believe it. He refuted that lion is the king of the beast. And gold is also very peculiar material. Why it was a failure? His friend told him that the homophonic word of “??” in Chinese is “??”. It is not a lucky name to Chinese. Mrzhen was deeply inspired by his friend’s words. He thought over and over, and finally, he give his necktie a new Chinese name “???”. This new translated name include not only the free translation, “?”(gold), but also the homophonic translation,“??”(lion). This name has both the meaning of riches ,honor(?) and lucky(??). It gives our Chinese great language imagination. And it soon became the worldwide famous brand .

2.2. Some examples of the perfect translated termWith the reformation and open to the world, many world famous brands come to us. It is not hard for we to notice that many foreign products are translated into Chinese with lucky words. In the following part, I will give a form to enumerate as many this kinds of commodities as I can. From them we can see that “????” is just a member of this big family.


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