Transliteration of Coca-Cola Trademark to Chinese Characters
Thread poster: Jacek Krankowski
Jacek Krankowski  Identity Verified
English to Polish
+ ...
Jan 27, 2003

Found in tranfree

(http://www.translatortips.com)



Translation Joke

****************



Contributed by Christian Faucheux



More of an interesting translation story than a joke...





Transliteration of Coca-Cola Trademark to Chinese Characters

by H.F. Allman, formerly Legal Counsel in China for

The Coca-Cola Company



The introduction of Coca-Cola in China back in 1928 presented

some unusual problems to the late P.S. (\"Red\") Lewis and

associates. The potential market was the 500 million Chinese, or

a reasonable number thereof, and the large foreign community in

China. For ages the Chinese had been accustomed to drinking

their own delightful green tea -- hot and straight. The social

customs of the foreign communities had long been set by the

British -- and who had ever heard of any Colonial Britisher

drinking anything but Scotch, gin, or black tea?



\"Red\" had no delusions that all of these people would suddenly

become customers for Coca-Cola. Nevertheless, he firmly

believed that an ever-increasing number of Chinese would come

to like Coca-Cola and -- he was right. Before long, Coca-Cola

appeared at the Shanghai Club and the Country Club, both utter

British strongholds but frequented by Americans in the

community. They convinced the British that Coca-Cola was

indeed delicious and refreshing.



It was obvious that the Coca-Cola trademark had to be

transliterated into Chinese characters in order to reach the

millions in the market. Chinese, both written and spoken, is so

completely alien to any European language that the simplest

foreign word or term is a tongue twister to the Chinese.



To find the nearest phonetic equivalent to Coca-Cola required a

separate Chinese character for each of the four syllables. Out of

the 40,000 or so characters there are only about 200 that are

pronounced with the sounds we needed and many of these had to

be avoided because of their meaning.



While doing the research for four suitable characters we found

that a number of shopkeepers had also been looking for Chinese

equivalents for \"Coca-Cola\" but with weird results. Some had

made crude signs that were absurd in the extreme, adopting any

old group of characters that sounded remotely like \"Coca-Cola\"

without giving a thought as to the meaning of the characters

used.



One of these homemade signs sounded like \"Coca-Cola\"

when pronounced but the meaning of the characters came out

something like \"female horse fastened with wax\" and another

\"bite the wax tadpole\". The character for wax, pronounced La,

appeared in both signs because that was the sound these

untutored sign makers were looking for. Any Chinese reading the

signs would recognize them as a crude attempt to make up an

arbitrary phonetic combination.



Although we were primarily concerned with the phonetic equivalent

of \"Coca-Cola\", we could not ignore the meaning of the

characters, individually and collectively, as the free-wheeling

sign makers had done.



The closet Mandarin equivalent to \"Coca- Cola\" we could find was

K\'o K\'ou K\'o Le^. The aspirates (designated by \') are necessary

to approximate the English sounds. There is no suitable character

pronounced La in Chinese so we compromised on Le^ (joy) which is

approximately pronounced ler. We chose the Mandarin because this

dialect is spoken by the great majority of Chinese.



Incidentally, Chinese has to be interpreted into English rather

than translated, and vice versa. All Chinese characters have more

than one meaning but the [four chosen] (depending on context)

commonly mean:



K\'o = To permit, be able, may, can

K\'ou = Mouth, hole, pass, harbor

K\'o = as above

Le^ = Joy, to rejoice, to laugh, to be happy



It would seem that the Chinese trademark means to permit mouth

to be able to rejoice -- or something palatable from which one

derives pleasure.



Not once in ten million times could a company

literally pronounce their trademark in English and have the

sounds mean something desirable in the Chinese language.



The mainland of China is out of the market indefinitely

[not true now, but this was probably written years ago] but

fortunately most of the 2,000,000 Chinese in Hong Kong and the

9,000,000 in Taiwan understand Mandarin. Even the 10,000,000

overseas Chinese, who mostly speak Cantonese or Fukienese,

realize that K\'o K\'ou K\'o Le^ is the Mandarin Chinese trademark

for \"Coca-Cola\".



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Araksia Sarkisian  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 12:59
Armenian to Polish
+ ...
About Coca-Cola....The world is small.....:) Jan 28, 2003

see: http://www.proz.com/?sp=bb/viewtopic&topic_id=7602&forum_id=30

Where Ko-Ku Ko-Le means happiness in your mouth...

Posted on Jan 11...)



Quote:


On 2003-01-27 23:38, jacek wrote:

Found in tranfree

(http://www.translatortips.com)



Translation Joke

****************



Contributed by Christian Faucheux



More of an interesting translation story than a joke...

.....Transliteration of Coca-Cola Trademark to Chinese Characters

by H.F. Allman, formerly Legal Counsel in China for

The Coca-Cola Company

K\'o = To permit, be able, may, can

K\'ou = Mouth, hole, pass, harbor

K\'o = as above

Le^ = Joy, to rejoice, to laugh, to be happy

It would seem that the Chinese trademark means to permit mouth

to be able to rejoice -- or something palatable from which one derives pleasure.



Not once in ten million times could a company

literally pronounce their trademark in English and have the

sounds mean something desirable in the Chinese language.

.......Even the 10,000,000

overseas Chinese, who mostly speak Cantonese or Fukienese,

realize that K\'o K\'ou K\'o Le^ is the Mandarin Chinese trademark

for \"Coca-Cola\"........





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