Got ideas? We'd love to hear them.
How fun! Well, I'm sure you know that with any name in Chinese, you can go one of several ways. The most common ways are the "sound" route and the "meaning" route. Should it sound like "My Gengo" or should it mean "My Language"? If you're lucky, you can do both, but that's unfortunately not the case here, I think. Another approach is to try to go for something that describes the service. What if you picked a name that meant "crowd source translation". You could also go for something that just means something really cool and memorable. Or you could go for some combination of all of the above! --- The easy way to go is "wo de yu yan" 我的語言 （Simplified Chinese: 我的语言). Or possibly just "wo yu yan," 我語言 (我语言). This is just a direct translation of myGengo (notice that 語言 is the same as Japanese 言語). But where's the fun in that? So I browsed the ol' Pinyin dictionaries for a while. Ignoring tones at the moment, I found the following characters for "mai" that might work: 勱/劢 - make an effort. 邁/迈 - take a step. 買 - buy. Then these for "Gen": 跟 - follow. 根 - base, foundation. 亙/亘 - extend across. (Also maybe 敢 "gan", to dare) Then these for "Gou": 夠/够 - satisfactory. 句 - sentence. 構/构 - structure. 購/购 - buy, hire. 遘;覯/觏 - meet (unexpectedly). (Possibly 國/国 "guo", country) From these options, I might pick... 邁亙覯 (Simp. 迈亘觏). "Step across and meet." It also might mean "Step across and complete." Sounds sort of like a social network, now that I think of it. I think it's best to go the "meaning" route in this case. I'm sure there also some other characters/combinations of characters that would be quite suitable. So what do the rest of you think? (Disclaimer: I speak very little Chinese and it's quite possible that certain combinations of characters could make for unintelligible, humorous, or even offensive meanings or combinations of sounds. Such are the dangers of localization!)
Hi all. Especially in the case of Chinese names, you have to ask a fairly literary-minded native speaker who does this kind of localization for a living.shaeffer.christopher is on the right track in proposing the two main routes that translation of product names can go. That said, the character he's chosen are either very uncommon or not particularly suited to a product name. Why?
First, Chinese names tend to be aspirational or at least unceasingly positive, even when this meaning has nothing to do with the product.
For example, Heineken is 喜力 (xi3 li4), happiness + power. Sounds and means nothing like the original, but that's not the point. The story and value of the beer is encapsulated in its name.
Two, they tend to use very simple or common characters to express these positive meanings. I think Nike's brand name is fantastic: they are 耐克 (nai4 ke4), which sounds similar to the Western name, and means enduring and overcoming. Plus, the characters are simple and easily recognizable.
So it's important to have somebody gets these dynamics. The NYT did a great article on this: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/12/world/asia/picking-brand-names-in-china-is-a-business-itself.html.
Personally, I think that the most important characteristic of "myGengo" is that it is explicitly bilingual, and in doing so advertises the product that it aims to sell. Thus the Chinese translation in some way should reflect this combination of languages. I'm not sure whether that means it should use a combination of characters and roman lettering, or whether it should somehow combine meaning- and sound-based translations (e.g., the article above highlights companies that go for purely sound-based renderings to emphasize the foreign nature of their products).
I agree with Subjacency. This is the kind of question you want to ask translators whose native language is Chinese. Perhaps asking the question in English on a website used by English speakers more than Chinese speakers is going to give you less than satisfactory results.
my翻译 or something that does half roman letters and half Chinese might be pretty cool. Using English is very popular right now, although sometimes English is used differently in China than we expect. People say a party is "high" and that means that everyone had fun (but probably did not use drugs), to give a simple example.
So definitely, definitely find a translator whose native language is Chinese. You could find lots of them on websites like proz.com.
Yes, Subjacency has a very good point. The name should be interesting, attractive and easy to remember. But with all due respect, "my翻译" is good, but still sounds a bit too ordinary to me. It doesn't stand out when comparing to other "cooler" names of translation providers in China, such as "传神", "语联网" or "语言桥".
It's kind of hard to find a translation that suits both the name "Gengo" and its implication, since as far as I know, it simply means "language" in Japanese.
Why this name? Because Gengo is based in Japan? Is there further meaning of "Gengo" in English? I guess the "Gen-" might be implying "general" since they "want translation and global communication to be accessible to all", but I can't figure out the "-go".
And a weird thought just hit me, how about changing "my翻译" to "my译"? It means "my translation", and in Chinese, the pronunciation 卖译 (literally "selling translation") is the same as 卖艺 (making a living by a skilled trade), which is a humorous way to describe our job (I assume we are all translators here). But the downside is, it might be too folk-style (I'm not sure if it's the word for it, but we'd use 小家子气xiao3jia1zi0qi4 here in Chinese), and sounds totally different from "Gengo".Anyway I have to go now, maybe I will add more comments when I get home or have better ideas.
"Gengo" is "言語" in Japanese, right? So in my opinion, we can call it "言語", too!
Ming Kao's opinion is excellent ! I can not help agreeing with you ! ~_~
I third Ming Kao's opinion. First, as far as I'm aware, all Japanese brand names in China simply use the original kanji (though obviously pronounced differently), so it's a safe option. (In any event, the Japanese flavor lends an air of distinction which doesn't hurt when selling a premium product.) When buying a service intended to let you communicate with the world, you don't want something too "down-home" and localized; you want something exactly like what "Gengo" is in English: pronounceable in the local alphabet, but exotic.
shaeffer.christopher 雖然自稱只識少少中文，但他想到的 「邁亙覯」 ( 迈亘觏) 足見其中文功底不俗。至少最後一個字是很多中國人不認識的。
捷译：translation with high efficiency
How about "精译网“ ？