How to Say Names of Top Brands in Chinese
International brands are translated into Chinese following no specific rules. Some of the local names are totally subjective. Brand names can be translated into Chinese by approximating the original sound while maintaining the spirit of the brand (or not at all), such as gǔgē for Google (the literal translation of the Chinese name is “the song of the valley”. Another example is nàikè for Nike, which contains the words meaning “persistence” and “to overcome”, which is pretty close to what the sporting goods represent.
Brand names can also be translated by literally translating the meaning of the word in its original language into Chinese. Píngguǒ even though does not sound anything like Apple, means exactly that in Chinese, apple. Volkwagen’s Chinese name dàzhòng qìchē is a direct translation from German into Chinese (the car of the mass). Likewise with Samsung, which in Korean is written the same as in Chinese, but pronounced slightly differently, sānxīng. And Toyota which is called fēngtián in Chinese, is derived from Japanese kanji 豐田.
Interestingly, Citibank is called huāqí yínháng (literally, it means the bank with a floral flag), which is not a sound approximation or a meaning translation. The story behind this is when Citibank first arrived in China, there was an American flag on the bank building and thus the local called the bank huāqí yínháng. The name is preserved until today.
Another interesting example is Starbucks, which is called xīngbākè in Chinese. The local name combines two ways of translations: a word meaning translation (xīng meaning star), and a sound approximation (bākè for bucks).
Last year, McDonald’s China has changed its company name from màidāngláo (a sound approximation) to 金拱门 jīngǒngmén, meaning golden arch, while retaining its store name as màidāngláo.
Here are top 50 brand names in Chinese:
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