Chinese Tuesdays: Cars and Horses


When giving cars Chinese names, many brands opt for 马 (mǎ), the character for horse, such as the well-known 宝马 (bǎomǎ – BMW or "treasure horse"), Mazda (马自达 – mǎzìdá), whose use of 马 seems to be phonetic, and Aston Martin 阿斯顿·马丁 (āsīdùn·mǎdīng). 马 also appears as a meaning radical in the second character of the name for Mercedes Benz, 奔驰 (bēnchí) – which is, appropriately, a word meaning “to run quickly, speed, or gallop”.

Other brands, such as Maserati 玛莎拉蒂 (mǎshālādì), have chosen a different mǎ, 玛, which literally means "agate", but is most often used in the transliteration of foreign words, such as Mary (玛丽 mǎlì) and Walmart (沃尔玛 wò'ěrmǎ).

Every Tuesday on the Anthill, Sam Duncan posts a langauge titbit from his blog. Read them all here