Englese at Alibaba

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From an anonymous correspondent, who photographed it at Alibaba's Hangzhou campus — in, ahem, a restroom:

Transcription and translation:

Zuì zhòngyào de sān jiàn shìqíng:
Engage, jiùshì ràng wǒmen de yònghù tǐyàn dào wú suǒ bùnéng de Lazada, zhè shì yīgè wànnéng de píngtái, kěyǐ bāng tā jiějué suǒyǒu shēnghuó de wèntí.
Empower: Wǒmen yào Empower wǒmen de Sellers, wǒmen yào kàn zěnme bāng tā zhuànqián, zěnme kěyǐ zēngjiā tā de qúdào, zěnme qù wéihù tā de kèhù, gěi tāmen zuò hǎo fúwù.
Enable:  Enable wǒmen zìjǐ de Lazada rén, wǒmen yào yǒu fēicháng qīngxī de jīxiào guǎnlǐ tǐxì, wǒmen yào yǒu fēicháng qīngxī de guānyú gōngsī wénhuà, guānyú wǒmen zěnme hùxiāng pèihé de zhè yīgè píngtái. Tèbié xīwàng wǒmen měi yīgè Lazada tóngshì dōu quán qíng cānyù dào zhège guòchéng zhōng.
Lucy: Ràng Lazada chéngwéi gèng hǎo de Lazada

Engage, 就是让我们的用户体验到无所不能的Lazada,这是一个万能的平台,可以帮他解决所有生活的问题。
Empower: 我们要Empower我们的Sellers,我们要看怎么帮他赚钱,怎么可以增加他的渠道,怎么去维护他的客户,给他们做好服务。
—Lucy: 让Lazada成为更好的Lazada

The three most important things:
Engage, is to let our user(s) experience all-powerful Lazada; this is a universal platform that can help him/ them solve all life problems.
Empower: We want to Empower our Sellers, we need to see how to help him [–> them] make money, how to increase his [–> their] channels, how to maintain his [–> their] customers, and give them good service.
EnableEnable our own Lazada people, we need to have a very clear performance management system, we need to have a very clear platform about corporate culture and how we can cooperate with each other. We especially hope that every Lazada colleague will fully participate in this process.
Lucy: Making Lazada Become a Better Lazada

From a correspondent who has herself worked in globally connected Chinese corporate culture:

At first I didn't know what "Lazada" is, so I googled it. It's an online shopping website for the Southeast Asian regions. It was bought by Alibaba back in 2016. The combination of language in the text pictured above is a bit strange because of the appearance of a few English words that seem to be out of place.
This first of all reminds me of the mocking of someone speaking Chinese with English vocabulary to show off their sense of sophistication (màinòng Yīngwén 卖弄英文).  This situation is common for people who work in foreign companies in China, such as Deloitte, KPMG, etc. Sometimes I even speak this way if I cannot think of the Chinese term for certain words, or some words that just can't be translated to Chinese (for example, due date for an essay, a project for my class, etc.).
Sometimes people in China might think this manner of speaking is strange or just a way to show off. This ad (at least to me) certainly is using this technique to generate attention. (Note how there is the name "Lucy" at the end. "Lucy" is mocked very often in aforementioned scenario since it's a very basic English name commonly used by Chinese, but used less often among the Americans and British, etc. Similar English names that are often mocked include Lily, Linda, etc. The presence of "Lucy" here doesn't really make sense because nobody knows who this "Lucy" is, nor does this ad state her identity. It seems like the English name is more important than her actual identity.)
Second, since Lazada and Alibaba are both companies that aim at the international market, it's reasonable to assume that their workers and users speak English (to a certain extent) and are adept with such websites and their business. It's possible that this ad is presented like this intentionally to deliver its international aspect and to attract potential users and employees. (Note how this text also talks about intra-company strategies and approaches instead of only talking about its products and services. I assume "Lucy" is also intentionally mentioned to create the allusion that, if you join us, you could be just like "Lucy" who is educated, sophisticated, speaks English fluently, knows business well, etc.)
Third, these three English terms (engage, empower, enable) are very difficult to be translated to Chinese terms without losing their original meaning and implication. Chinese translations for these might be less important since the ad aims at those who understand these three English words. (in other words, it's not an ad aiming at my grandparents who don't speak English and don't know much about online shopping, let alone this Lazada website).

From a correspondent who regularly uses websites such as Lazada:

I think this is a kind of slogan of company culture. Many companies have their own slogans, and training managers will try their best to “brainwash” employees and ask them to remember the slogans. Thus, companies will come up with simple and direct terms for their slogans which make it easier for these training managers to mention all the time. (I have experienced this when I did my internship in Guangzhou.)

So I think using English is a good choice for the name of a slogan or at least some keywords of slogans  (considering that not all employees in the company know English well, so it is not a wise choice to write all slogans in English). As with the slogan shown above, the company may name it as "三个E, three E“, and this is a kind of combination of language. In the slogan above, the keywords in the text are English but the main text is still written in Chinese. It seems that the name of the slogan is easy to be remembered, and the content of the slogan is easy to be comprehended.

I would say the trend of combining languages may come from Hongkong, and it is popular in the companies, especially those with high proportion of young employees.

I found some other examples:


Here, the company is Giordano and its name of company culture is Q. KISS.

2. This is not a slogan of the company culture but the name of a group of regulations for site management:


7S现场管理法:(整理 整顿 清扫 清洁 素养 安全 节约)。8S现场管理法:( 在7S基础上加上《学习》)

[VHM:  It's not worth providing the Pinyin and English translation of this one and the next one (#3).  Just the appearance of mixed characters and romanization (Japanese transcriptions, actually, for #2) shows how common this sort of thing (mixing languages and scripts) is in current corporate culture in China today.]

3. This is an instance of using English terms for definitions and organizational principles:

“大市场营销”(Megamarketing)诞生了"6P".产生的背景:世界经济的滞胀现象,贸易保护主义抬头,国际市场营销环境的恶化(80年代后) 企业营销活动不但要适应环境,还要为企业创造良好的市场营销环境,把公共关系、政治力量也做为企业的可控因素运用,以创造良好的营销环境。 重视企业与外部环境的关系。强调了人对环境的能动性。突破了市场营销中不可控因素的观念。

定义:产品(Product)、价格(Price)、渠道(Place)、推广(Promotion)、政治力量(Political Power)与公共关系(Public Relations)是为6P.

I think the alphabet makes it easier to combine ideas and terms from other languages, so we gradually love to insert some English keywords in Chinese texts. In the past, we also had Chinese rubrics such as "Sān gè yīdìng 三个一定” ("Three 'certainly'"), “Sì gè bùyào 四个不要” ("Four 'don't'"), or “Wǔ gè nàixīn 五个耐心” ("Five 'be patient'"), but these Chinese phrases such as "一定 certainty” “不要 never” and "耐心 patience" are not like English keywords which can clearly imply the content of concepts such as the Q.KISS. These initials will remind people what ideas and words are involved, but phrases such as "一定 certainly", etc. are too general to give any specific implications, guidance, or direction.

Some earlier posts:

This is not a complete listing.  For example, I seem to recall that there is another post about a mixed English and Chinese text on the walls of a corporate campus in China that I cannot find right now.  Also omitted here are many posts on biscriptal and multiscriptal juxtaposition in Chinese texts.

[Thanks to Fangyi Cheng, Zeyao Wu, and Jinyi Cai.]


  1. Claire Geber said,

    April 24, 2018 @ 10:59 pm

    I am not a Chinese speaker. But I was struck by the oddity of "Lucy" written below and indented – roughly in the place of a signature.

    Could it be a kind of pun? I looked up the Chinese meanings of the the syllables Lu and cy (si) and got for Lum "to reveal" and for si ("west").
    So, the sign- off is "Lucy", a personification of western advertizing, followed by a slogan.

  2. Francis Boyle said,

    May 4, 2018 @ 4:27 am

    On the off chance that there's anyone still here, a quick Google reveals that 'Lucy' is Lucy Peng Lazada's CEO. Maybe someone who reads can say if any of the characters in the signature correspond to 'Peng'.

  3. Claire Geber said,

    May 4, 2018 @ 2:09 pm

    Well, thank you for that, Francis Boyle! How simple and satisfactory.

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