Archive for Language and business

Tibet water

Ben Zimmer was just passing through Hong Kong Airport, where he got a bottle of Tibet 5100 spring water, complete with Tibetan script:


Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (9)

"NG" and "CP" in Taiwan

From an anonymous contributor:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (12)

Zo sashimi

From June Teufel Dreyer:

When I went to the supermarket yesterday for my weekly sashimi fix, I noticed that the preparer seemed to have cloned herself.  It was her brother (the preparers wear caps concealing their hair and the two looked virtually identical). Sister was instructing brother on exactly how I like the sashimi in a language that sounded unfamiliar. Ever curious,  I had to ask.  "Zo," she replied "Z, O."  I looked it up this morning, discovered that these Chin tribes are related to the Naga who, with the Mizo, were part of a longstanding effort by the Chinese to torment the Indian government.

Sometime when there aren't other customers waiting—this may never happen—I'll ask how she and her brother got to Miami and my neighborhood Publix store.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (11)

Nicknames for foreign cars in China

"Porsche and BMW are known as 'broken shoes' and 'don't touch me' in China", by Echo Huang

Many of these names are off-color and some even quite vulgar, but they are all affectionate:

Audi's RS series:  xīzhuāng bàotú 西装暴徒 ("a gangster in a suit"), inspired by the car's smooth look and impressive horsepower (some links in Chinese).

Bugatti's Veyron: féi lóng 肥龙 ("fat dragon").  The French car manufacturer's high-performance Veyron sports car earned the moniker for its round-front face design, and because "ron" in Veyron sounds like "lóng" ("dragon"), just as "Vey" sounds like féi ("fat").

BMW: bié mō wǒ 别摸我 ("don't touch / rub me").  The German acronym for Bayerische Motoren Werke forms the basis to create a Mandarin phrase that expresses how precious people consider the car to be.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (4)

Chinese restaurant shorthand, part 5

Subtitle:  Phoneticization on an order from a Macanese restaurant in Vancouver.

Bruce Rusk sent in this prime example of extreme Sinographic shorthand, adding, "The geographic origin of the cuisine is a big hint to the document's meaning…".

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (7)

On pronoun typology and economic measures

Below is a guest post by Bob Kennedy.


This post is adapted from a letter I wrote to the editors of the journal Kyklos, in response to the recent publication of "Do Linguistic Structures Affect Human Capital? The Case of Pronoun Drop", by Prof Horst Feldmann of the University of Bath.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (37)

Onigiri > Onigilly

Brand-name transliteration (in Embarcadero Center, San Francisco), courtesy of Nancy Friedman:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (47)

I pressed the "correct" button three times and the ATM ate my card

That's what happened to Paul Midler when confronted with this display on an ATM in China:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (10)

Tangut beer

Comments (15)

X & X

Perhaps modeled on the rise of big brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Crate & Barrel, etc. (though in our own history going back much further), but a bit different, in Asia, we have Nail & Nail, Lock & Lock, Bagel & Bagel, and so forth. Below are photographs of two shops in Asia with "X & X" names.

I should mention that the Chinese name of the first one is "rèlà shēnghuó 热辣生活" ("hot and spicy life").

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (17)

Not for circulation

On Wednesday, a woman tried to purchase a $5,000 prepaid Visa card at a Safeway store in Washington with 49 of these hundred-dollar bills:

Source: "Woman tried to pass off fake $100 bills with pink Chinese lettering written on them: police", by Greg Norman, Fox News (10/4/18).

It's easy to spot how this $100 bill is fake.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (24)

Opening and closing necrophilia

Comments (13)

Winnie meets Oreo

This just in from Mark Metcalf in Beijing:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (9)