Sunday, January 30, 2011

Coca Cola, Mercedes-Benz and Yosemite

Coca Cola, Mercedes Benz and Yosemite - what do they have in common?

For Chinese speakers, they represent the examples of best translation.  The Chinese translations for Coca Cola is 可口可乐 (pronounced as: ke-kou-ke-le), which means delicious and cheering.  The truncated form Coke was simple 可乐 (ke-le), cheering.


Most Chinese speakers don't know what Mercedes is but they now Benz.  The translation of Mercedes-Benz, at least in mainland China, usually leaves Mercedes out and Benz is called 奔驰 (pronounced as: ben-chi), meaning racing.  Some translations do keep Mercedes, which was simply a phonetic transliteration (梅塞德斯, pronounced as: mei-sai-de-si) with no special meanings.


Yosemite in Chinese is 优山美地 (pronounced as: you-shan-mei-di), which means superior mountain(s) and beautiful field(s).


I have discussed many times regarding what constitutes good translations.  To me, the full meaning of the original language is the essential.  As for brands, a phonetic proximity is important as well.  Besides those, if the translated language can add extra layers of wonderful meanings to merchandise brands, then the translations reach sublimity.


  1. That's really awesome-- I particularly like Yosemite. Does Yellowstone get an equally poetic treatment?

  2. Yellowstone - no. It is 黄石 (huang-shi), means Yellow Stone.