Beijing's Olympic Inside Joke

The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing feature a set of nauseating mascots called Fuwa (福娃). The basic idea is alright (one mascot for each olympic ring) but I find the art style they used to be not to my liking. I suspect millions of Chinese children love these critters and millions of Chinese parents hate them.

But the funny thing about these mascots is their names. Beibei (贝贝) is the Fish, Jingjing (晶晶) is the Panda, Huanhuan (欢欢) is the Olympic Flame, Yingying (迎迎) is the Tibetan Antelope and Nini (妮妮) is the Swallow. (I just noticed that the official web page for the Fuwa explains the names and the joke but I'll explain it again here). If you take each name's character and put them together (贝晶欢迎妮) you get "Beijing huanying ni". Which sounds like "北京欢迎你", or "Beijing haunying ni", which translates to "Beijing welcomes you". This is a nice sentiment but only people who speak Mandarin can see the joke; if you speak Cantonese or some other dialect the words "贝晶欢迎妮" are meaningless and the pun is lost. And if you don't speak any Chinese at all you obviously won't see the hidden meaning either.

1 comment:

raps_388 said...

Hey that's actually quite clever man. And yes by speaking other dialects it will spoil the joke. Good job at the translation bud.