11 Great Literal Translations of Chinese Words

 

11_Literal_Translations_of_Chinese_Words.jpgWhile studying any foreign language, your teacher will no doubt tell you not to translate words or phrases literally back into English. Well, sometimes doing so uncovers accidental, or not-so-accidental, gems. Below are a list of eleven words in Mandarin whose characters translated word-for-word back into English reveal some insight into their naming process, or at the least, help make them easier to remember...

 

 

Machinal Words

  

1. Computer = Electronic Brain 电脑 (diànnǎo)   

 

11 Great Literal Translations of Chinese Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Train = Fire Vehicle 火车(huǒchē)

 

11 Great Literal Translations of Chinese Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Plane = Flying Machine 飞机 (fēijī)

 

Image result for plane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animal Names

 

4. Turkey = Fire Chicken 火鸡 (huǒjī)

11 Great Literal Translations of Chinese Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

  5. Giraffe = Long Neck Deer 长颈鹿 (chángjǐnglù)

11 Great Literal Translations of Chinese Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Lobster = Dragon Shrimp 龙虾 (lóngxiā)

 

11 Great Literal Translations of Chinese Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Country Names

 

 

7. America = Beautiful Country 美国 (Měiguó)

11 Great Literal Translations of Chinese Words

 

 

 

 

 

8. England = Brave Country 英国 (Yīngguó)

11 Great Literal Translations of Chinese Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 9. Germany = Moral Country 德国 (Déguó)

11 Great Literal Translations of Chinese Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Miscellaneous

10. Boss = Old Board 老板 (lǎobǎn)

11 Great Literal Translations of Chinese Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Jeans = Cowboy Pants 牛崽裤 (niúzǎikù)

11 Great Literal Translations of Chinese Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Written By Josephine Massey - CSA US Program Director 
Josephine currently lives in Beijing and is discovering the joys of learning Mandarin. Send her more funny translations at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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