display | more...

McDonald's restaurants in China and Taiwan are given the name "Mai-Dang-Lao" in Chinese, which is meant to phonetically approximate the English name. When McDonald's was first introduced in these areas, this caused some confusion as the three Chinese symbols literally translate to "wheat-must-labor." Another name McDonald's originally used in Hong Kong was "Mai-Dang-Nu" which translates to "wheat-becomes-slaves"; this name is no longer used, as McDonald's apparently feels that "wheat-must-labor" is preferable.

The reason that the Mandarin name for McDonald's is "Mai dang lao" is because of Cantonese. McDonald's came first to Hong Kong, where they used the characters for wheat, serve, and work, which in Cantonese are pronounced "Mak dang lo," which sounds significantly closer to the English pronunciation. Afterwards, the same characters (with the Mandarin pronunciation) were used for the Mandarin name of McDonald's, which is why "Mai dang lao" doesn't really sound very close to English.

This is also why in Mandarin, Pizza Hut is called "Bi sheng ke" - because in Cantonese the pronunciation is "Pi sang hak," and they just used the same characters.

Another example is the snack food Pocky, which is pronounced "bak hei" in Cantonese, but becomes "bai qi" in Mandarin.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.