Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

What's in a name: Google in Chinese

Not huge news, but Google's announcement this week of their official Chinese name, 谷歌 [Gu Ge, meaning valley song], has provoked a lot of discussion across Chinese blogs. While most people will likely continue using the particular pronounciation—there are several—of the English name they've grown most accustomed to, that one interpretation of the new moniker suggests something along the lines of rejoicing after a bumper harvest, in a culture that emphasizes subtlety many here say Google could have done better. Here are some snippets of conversation:

CNBruce

估计外国人对”谷”字认识觉得有那般”古””中国”味吧,反正我想到了”绝情谷”什么的类似世外桃源的地方。
不过,也许是思维定式吧,”百度”没出名前还真不知道这词有啥价值~~
又不过,还是觉得有些不能这么容易接受,于是有人也恶搞了下:比如”股沟”、”蝈蝈”
Google,你应该在正式命名中文之前征求下大家的意见嘛
现在网友们只好马后炮了,NND

I guess for foreigners the ‘谷’ character [phonetically pronounced ‘goo,’ meaning valley or grain] has a bit of ‘古’ [also ‘goo,’ but meaning ancient] feeling to it, but it reminds me of someplace idyllic like Passionless Valley [a hidden valley ruled by villains in martial arts novelist Louis Cha‘s Return of the Condor Heroes].

It might just be a matter of perception; before Baidu [百度, the largest Chinese search engine] came around I had no idea what that word meant.
Then again, I still feel it's not that easy to accept and some people have twisted the meaning around: ‘股沟’ [gu gou/groin] or ‘蝈蝈’ [guo guo/grasshopper], for example.
Google, you should have solicited people's opinions before choosing an official Chinese name. Now netizens are just saying ‘I told you so,’ [expletive].

Lian Yue's Eighth Continent

“谷歌”写给中国政府的保证书

1、我们保证找不到任何色情资讯,但是结果会指向新浪社会新闻。
2、我们保证找不到任何垃圾资讯,但是结果会指向新浪名人blog。
3、我们保证修改搜索技术,将中国提供的官员名单等同于以下关键词——
4、清廉、幽默、朴素、十年一衣、爱民如子、拍案而起、爱、做爱!
5、我们保证”做爱”是百度恶意攻击的结果。
6、我们认为,1988年之后就是1990年。
7、我们还认为,6月3日之后当然是6月5日。
8、我们保证找不到任何国际新闻,我们保证找不到任何敏感的国内新闻。
9、Google商标在中国将改成”000000″。
10、”000000″读为”谷歌”,但我们建议读为”胡哥”。

“Valley Song” letter of guarantee to the Chinese government

1. We promise to be unable to find any erotic materials, and all results will point to Sina‘s [major Chinese portal site] society news.
2. We promise to be unable to find any trash information, and all results will point to Sina's celebrity blogs.
3. We promise to modify search technology and equate the name list of government officials provided by China with the following keywords:
4. Incorruptible, humorous, austere, self-denying, loving of the people like their own sons, ironhanded, love, have sex!
5. We promise “have sex” is the result of Baidu's malicious attack.
6. We believe that 1990 follows the year 1988.
7. We also believe that June 5 is the day after June 3.
8. We promise to be unable to find any international news or any sensitive mainland news.
9. Google's logo in China will become ‘000000.’
10. ‘000000’ shall be pronounced ‘Gu Ge’ [valley song] but we recommend the pronounciation ‘Hu Ge’ [big brother Hu Jintao].

Microning from Aleha blog

“谷歌” ,以谷为歌,象征着收获的喜悦,也表达了一种勤恳求实的态度,以及对返朴归真的向往。它同时也想传达出中国人对幸运/吉祥的企盼。
“谷歌” ,是播种与期待之歌,亦是收获与欢愉之歌。

“Gu Ge,” a song for the valley, signifies the joy of harvest and expresses a sort of diligent and earnest striving for truth and a yearning to return to the simple life. It also communicates Chinese people's hope for luck and auspiciousness.
“Valley Song,” it's a song of sowing and anticipation, of harvesting and happiness.

Huang Jixin of MindMeters blog

“谷歌”是Google在全球唯一一个官方非英文名,有人喜欢,有人不喜欢,新郎调查说60%的人觉得不好。我就不说好不好了,我只是觉得,”百度”是从一开始用这个名字就是取辛弃疾的词,而”谷歌”只是为了扣合Google的发音,这就差了一段。
其次,”千百度”已经进入现代中文语汇,但是”谷歌”要成为常用词,Google需要下点功夫。我们熟悉的优秀译名,比如”宝马””奔驰””奔腾””可口可乐”,都是使用了既有常用中文词汇,要创造新词,着实困难。
以前,我总是笑话百度模仿Google,强要把百度变成动词(百度曾经花广告费,让各大媒体在文章的末尾”百度一下”文章的关键词,这使得我之前所供职的那家报纸,常常版式都排好了,就等着百度把”百度一下”送过来),现在看来,相比之下,”谷歌”要变成动词的道路就更漫长了

‘Gu Ge’ is Google's only non-English name in the world. Some people like it, some don't. Sina did a survey in which sixty percent of respondents responded negatively. I'm not gonna say good or bad, but I do feel that seeing as Baidu took its name from an ancient Chinese literary term with Google merely transliterating its name into ‘Gu Ge,’ there's clearly a difference there.
Secondly, ‘Baidu’ has already found its place in modern Chinese vocabulary. If ‘Gu Ge’ wants to become a commonly-used word, Google has got a its work cut out. Other translated names with which we're all quite familiar like ‘Bao Ma’ [treasure horse/BMW], ‘Ben Chi’ [run quickly/Benz], ‘Ben Teng’ [gallop/Pentium]and ‘Ke Kou Ke Le’ [drink and be merry/Coca-Cola], all use commonly-used Chinese characters. To create a new word, though, is really quite hard.
I always used to joke at how Baidu was imitating Google, trying hard to turn ‘Baidu’ into a verb (Baidu once spent money to try and get larger media outlets to use the phrase ‘Baidu a bit’ in articles. At the newspaper I used to work at, we'd get everything laid out and ready and then just wait for Baidu to send a few ‘bits’ over). Looking now, comparatively, ‘Gu ge’ has got a very long way to go before it will ever become a verb.

Keso

“谷歌”,你听到后的第一感觉是什么?我的感觉是怪异。当然,感觉怪异的人,大多是因为太熟悉”Google”这个自造单词了,其实回想起来,当初第一次用Google的时候,对”Google”这个单词也是同样的感觉,怪异。这么多年下来,已经习惯了,不但习惯了,而且觉得这个单词很美妙,就像它美妙的彩色logo。
Google可以在全世界都只用Google一个名字,但在中国,它必须有一个正式的中文名字。 据Google说,43%一直用Google的英文称呼,26%的人称Google为”狗狗”,13%的人称Google为”古狗”。53%的人希望Google有一个中文名字,所以Google就真的有了一个中文名字,符合中国名正则言顺的古训。
我不知道,我需要多久才会习惯”谷歌”,就像当初Viagra进中国,放弃已被民间广泛采用的”伟哥”的名字,而采用一个纯音译的”万艾可”,无论如何总比让中国人接受Viagra要好得多。 Google说,”谷歌” 并不会代替 “Google” 英文名称的使用,这两个名字今后将相互呼应、互为支持。不过还有些小问题我没搞清楚,谷歌是Google的中文产品名称,还是Google的中文公司名称,或二者皆是?

What did you feel the first time you heard the word ‘Gu Ge'? Myself, I felt it was very strange. Of course, for those who think it sounds strange, it's most likely due to their familiarity with the word Google itself. Actually, now that I think about it, I had the same feeling when I first started using this word ‘Google.’ Just plain strange. All these years later, I'm used to it now. Not just used to it, I think this word is quite wonderful, just like its wonderful colorful logo.
Google can get by with just the one name in the rest of the world, but in China it must have a formal Chinese name. According to a survey done by Google, 43% of people have always called Google by its English name.
26% call Google ‘Gou Gou’ [dog dog], 13% call Google ‘Gu Gou’ [ancient dog]. Fifty-three percent of people want Google to have a Chinese name, and now it does, maintaining the Chinese tradition of taking action only when it is perfectly justifiable.
I don't know how long it will take me to get used to ‘Gu Ge,’ just like when Viagra first came to China and abandoned the commonly-used name ‘Wei Ge’ [great brother] for the purer-sounding ‘Wan Ai Ke’ [ten thousand problems resolved] which overall led Chinese people to a greater acceptance of Viagra.
Google says, “‘Gu Ge’ will not replace the usage of Google's English name, that from now on these two names will just refer to and support each other. There are, however, still a few little things I can't figure out: is Gu Ge the name of Google's Chinese product, its Chinese company, or both?

5 comments

  • American technorati are desperate for an on-going, updated list of WEBSITES that are blocked by Gu Ge, the so-called PRC firewall list.
    You can’t get them by googling Google, not from anywhere.
    The only way is an inductive test, one by one, from within China.
    Your readers can help.
    Please help.

    bthompson@Navyvets.org
    http://www.Navyvets.org

  • Google Brand Name Change: Much Ado About Gu Ge

    Conventional marketing wisdom and common sense dictate using one global brand name for a company doing business globally. However, "when in China, do as the Chinese do" might apply. Google may have sold part of its soul with the name change i…

  • Links Du Jour – Gu Ge Brand Name Edition

    Bilingual brands: Google China’s GuGe yarn continues – Chinese bloggers say the new Google brand name is “old fashioned, uncool, and downright boring” and this blogger explains why, presenting alternatives such as “GouGou” (Dog Dog) and “Gu…

  • Google Brand Name Change: Much Ado About Gu Ge…

    Conventional marketing wisdom and common sense dictate using one global brand name for a company doing business globally. However, "when in China, do as the Chinese do" might apply. Google may have sold part of its soul with the name change i…

  • […] you’ve got a major problem—especially when your names invokes images of sterile hinterlands or groins, grasshoppers, and shaving […]

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.