Archive for Language and business

Trumpchi, the car

Now comes news of a Chinese car with an unusual name that is aiming to enter the American market:

"China to Export Trumpchi Cars to U.S., Maybe With a New Name", by Keith Bradsher, NYT (11/17/17).

GUANGZHOU, China — The cars are called Trumpchi (though their Chinese maker insists the name is just a coincidence).

Various models of Trumpchi cars have been motoring down Chinese roads for the past seven years. But even after the United States elected a real estate tycoon with a similar name as president, the world ignored them.

But if the distinctive Trumpchi name has nothing to do with that of our President, where in the world did it come from?

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Just press Pay

This is a screen shot I snapped during a recent attempt to purchase something (can't remember what) on the web:

Notice that in order to continue, it tells me (twice) that I have to press "Pay". Can you see any button labeled "Pay" on the screen?

If you are itching to tell me what I should have done, you are missing my point.

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"Let's" in Chinese

Advertisement recently spotted by Guy Freeman in the Central, Hong Kong MTR (subway) station:

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What were they thinking?

Alex Baumans writes:

Perhaps no news to you, but I just discovered that the new Range Rover model is called the Velar. I wonder if the Uvular will be next.

To be followed by the Range Rover Pharyngeal and the Range Rover Glottal. (Or maybe a hybrid version called the Range Rover Labiovelar?)

And Jeep could fight back with the Jeep Ergative and the Jeep Grand Optative…

 

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English names in East Asia

We have had thousands of students from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore enrolled as undergraduates and graduate students at Penn.  To name just a few at random, there are Andromeda, Tess, Sophie, Isis (but she changed it to Iset after finding out about the Islamic terrorist state), Leander, Lovesky, and so on.  I won't speculate on why they choose the names they do (and, of course, there are plenty of students named David, Peter, Henry, Susan, Nancy, Jane, and even an occasional Carlos, etc.), but the fact remains that almost every student from the Sinosphere who applies to Penn has an English name of one sort or another.  Many of them, prodded by their American teachers or friends, give up these foreign names after a while, or they use their Chinese names and English names in different circumstances.

The same is true for Korea, and it seems to an even greater degree, such that in some circles in Korea, having an English name is obligatory:

"Why Korean companies are forcing their workers to go by English names" (WP, 5/12/17)

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Japanese hi-tech toilet instructions

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Trump tea

A friend of mine who does research on the history of tea in China recently shared the following photo in a WeChat group that focuses on Chinese food culture:

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Multiculturalism meets international trade

From Bill Thomas via John Rohsenow:

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He comfortable! He quickly dry!

A neighbor of mine, a respectable woman retired from medical practice, set a number of friends of hers a one-question quiz this week. The puzzle was to identify an item she recently purchased, based solely on what was stated on the tag attached to it. The tag said this (I reproduce it carefully, preserving the strange punctuation, line breaks, capitalization, and grammar, but replacing two searchable proper nouns by xxxxxxxx because they might provide clues):

ABOUT xxxxxxxx
He comfortable
He elastic
He quickly dry
He let you unfettered experience and indulgence. Please! Hurry up
No matter where you are. No matter what you do.
Let xxxxxxxx Change your life,
Become your friends, Partner,
Part of life

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Daigou: a Mandarin borrowing-in-progress in English

Surprisingly few words have been borrowed from Mandarin into English in recent years.  Most of the Sinitic borrowings in English — and there are not many — are from other topolects (Cantonese, Shanghainese, Hokkien, etc.), and they occurred nearly a century or more ago.

"Chinese loans in English" (7/10/13)

Since the founding of the PRC, most of the terminology borrowed into English from Chinese has come via loan translations, e.g., "paper tiger" and "running dog".  There are a few transcribed terms, such as "guanxi" ("networking; relationships"), though I doubt that they are very well known outside of the relatively narrow field of China specialists.

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Kindly do the needful

A phishing spam I received today from "Europe Trade" (it claims to be in Wisconsin but its address domain is in Belarus) said this:

Good Day sir/madam,

I am forwarding the attached document to you as instructed for confirmation,

Please kindly do the needful and revert

Best regards
Sarah Griffith

There were two attachments, allegedly called "BL-document.pdf" and "Invoice.pdf"; they were identical. Their icons said they were PDF files of size 21KB (everyone trusts PDF), but viewing them in Outlook caused Word Online to open them, whereupon they claimed to be password-protected PDF files of a different size, 635KB. However, the link I was supposed to click to open them actually led to a misleadingly named HTML file, which doubtless would have sucked me down to hell or sent all my savings to Belarus or whatever. I don't know what you would have done (some folks are more gullible than others), but I decided I would not kindly do the needful, or even revert. Sorry, Sarah.

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Is Duer a doer?

Mary Constance Parks called to my attention a short post about a "virtual assistant" announced on Tuesday by Baidu, China's largest search engine.

Five years ago, we looked into the nuances of the name "Baidu":

"Soon to be lost in translation" (7/11/10).

Now Baidu is expanding its services with the launching of this new assistant, "Duer", and Mary is eager to know more about the name.

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From Alphabet to Google

Google has picked "Alphabet" as the name for its new parent company:

"‘Alphabet,’ From Ancient Greece to Google", by Ben Zimmer, in Word on the Street, Wall Street Journal (8/13/15)

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