Jacob's Creek

25 Jun 2006

I regularly ride the subway to get to ChinesePod headquarters, and on each ride I am subjected to the advertising played on those flat LCD monitors. One of the ads I see a lot is for Jacob’s Creek, an Australian wine. I noted that the Chinese name is 杰卡斯.

杰卡斯 is obviously a partial transliteration. 杰 is chosen for its sound and favorable meaning of “outstanding,” and 卡 and 斯, both chosen for their sounds, are commonly used in transliterations of foreign words.

After seeing this Chinese name enough times, the thought occurred to me: the English name which most closely matches the Chinese transliteration 杰卡斯 is not Jacob’s Creek, but Jackass.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. LOL. That’s too funny John. When I first came here in 2001, I kept trying to “make” my full name mean something in Chinese. My very best friend in the US is native Malaysian, and with 30 years in the USA, he managed to come up with this one.Though not 100% “right” it’s pretty darn close.

    Glade (As in the air freshner). Why?
    Frank can be transliterated as:
    佛 Buddhist 兰 Orchid (flower) 克 Overcome (subdue, cut-down)
    My last name I emailed you, but EXACT transliteration is
    放 Release 屁 to break wind.

    So, Buddhist orchard cuts down released fart….. = Glade Air Freshner

  2. This seems like a good post in which to ask this question: Shanghai folks, is this list of slang accurate in the slightest? The etymologies would be interesting, if true, but it could easily be a hoax.

  3. I’ve done quite a bit of translation for Jacob Creek’s parent company, Pernod Ricard, and I have to say that 杰卡斯 is the worst of their product names? Someone appears to not realize that the final ‘b’ sound is a lot more important than the ‘s’…

  4. zhwj,

    Interesting, I’ll have to look into those. I’ve never heard/seen any of them before, but I can’t claim to have my finger on the pulse of the Shanghainese youth…

  5. Yeah, 杰卡斯 would pretty much be a PR disaster if Shanghainese people were hip to American slang. Oh, and good to hear you’re joining the proles on the subway, John 🙂

    I just bought a 正版 Nat King Cole CD today and found out that his Chinese name is 纳金高, which I thought was pretty decent.

  6. I was asked by e-mail for a pic of the Shanghai subway’s LCD flatscreen monitors. I don’t have any, but I found these on Flickr:

  7. They’re Samsung, and they’re run by some sort of embedded Linux.

  8. John,

    Hey, care to share how to post Flickr pix into the comment box?

    Also, I think there is an untapped market for your skills in naming – genius brand names like Coca-Cola and not very well thought of like this example in Jacob’s Creek wine.

    It was gay pride weekend in San Francisco and Heidi and I were out there – rolled BART to the city and we commented that there weren’t LCD screens such as those in Shanghai, just static posters.

  9. Wilson,

    It’s just straight up HTML. I clicked on the “all sizes” buttons on the respective Flickr pages to get the small sizes.

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