Sunday, May 24, 2009

Watching NBA Playoffs from China + Foreign Words in Chinese

This will be my last basketball related post. I think.

Now that the conference finals are underway, I'm realizing how thankful I am for China's recent obsession with the NBA. THANK YOU YAO MING. I don't really watch TV here, as there are only 1.5 English channels and watching Mandarin TV is only useful for the novelty of it. Except, that is, for when basketball is on.

I don't understand the commentary. I don't understand the commercials. But I LOVE IT when I hear a commentator yell JIA LEBO! What is a Jia LeBo? C'mon guys. Don't recognize King James' name when you hear it in Mandarin?

I haven't mentioned much about Mandarin here, but one of my recent pet peeves is the fact that the language does NOT take kindly to importing foreign words. The only cases I can easily think of are proper nouns. And even then they are usually pretty mangled.

Bringing a word into Chinese characters isn't a simple task. Because each character has a meaning AND a sound. If you want to turn Apple into "Ah-Pu" you have to take into account the potential meanings of every different character for ah and pu and then determine which works best for your name or your brand. Or rather, which doesn't HURT it. For example, my name in Chinese is Ze Ma Ku. But there are over a dozen possible pronunciations for it and probably almost a hundred different meanings. I could be Strong Horse Spirit or I could be Little Broccoli Face. Translating a name or brand into Chinese isn't to be taken lightly.

So, NBA players names are translated. I don't know what Jia LeBo MEANS. But I assume it means "Super Magic Blackman" or something like that.

What this means for my viewing is that, I don't get to hear words for rebound, block, dunk or any other word that ISN'T a proper noun. I pretty much get to make up my own commentary and then yell JIA LEBO whenever Lebron does something super magic blackman-like.

I love watching the playoffs here!

In the meantime. I thought I'd leave you with this fun picture I took in Luoyang. If you can't read it, this is a package for "1 Paris" of "Mens Health Massage Sport Sock". And it has Allen Iverson on it. In a Detroit jersey.

I wonder how that endorsement meeting went down.

Allen Iverson Socks China