Cities in Chinese – Funny Chinese Translations
Chinese to English translations sometimes don’t quite make much sense. Although Chinese is an incredibly logical language to learn we can’t help but enjoy some of the translations and they filter through to names of Cities as well.
Below we look at 12 different cities, their Chinese name (Hanzi and Pinyin), and what that literally means when translated character by character.
London – 伦敦 lún dūn – Logical Grain Storage.
London, the famous capital of the UK is a large city, so it is only logical that it should have some sort of grain storage.
Dublin – 都柏林 dū bó lín – Entirely Fathers Forest
The capital of Ireland isn’t known for it’s forests, maybe father is keeping it a secret?
Baton Rouge – 巴吞鲁日 – bā tūn lǔ rì – Wish to Swallow Stupid Sun
The state capital of Louisiana in the US, what can you say, it gets hot there and swallowing the sun is as good a solution as any.
Kazan – 喀山- kā shān – Vomiting Mountain
We have to be fair to the Russian city of Kazan. After all it is the capital and largest city in Tatarstan, 喀 kā doesn’t actually mean to vomit, but it is rather the sound of vomiting.
Athens – 雅典 – yǎdiǎn – Elegant Law
Bangui – 班吉 – bān jí – Team Lucky
In a previous article on literal country names in Chinese, we found out that African countries often got… unfortunate translations. Not so much for Bangui in Central African Republic which is considered team lucky by the Chinese!
Goa – 果阿 – guǒ ā – Fruit Ah!
Yes, we know, Goa is a state in India, and not a city, but there is still something charming about a tropical paradise being named after someone shouting FRUIT!
Seattle – 西雅图 – xīyǎtú – Western Elegant Picture
No wonder so many Chinese people go to Seattle, it is after all, the very image of Western Elegance.
Fes – 菲斯 – fēi sī – Not This
If not this city in Morocco, then what?
Nassau – 拿骚 – ná sāo – Hold a Giant Rope
Not a bad name for the capital of the Bahamas, which used to be a stronghold for pirates back in the day.
San Marino – 圣马力诺 – Shèng mǎ lì nuò – Holy Horse Power Promise
This micro state is only a few hours away from Italy’s famous fast and expensive car manufacturers, horse power promise indeed.
Yerevan – 埃里温 – āi lǐ wēn – Dirt Village Warm
This is very unfair towards the Armenian capital, which is not dusty, nor a village. It can get warm though!
That’s our list of 12, think you can better any of these with your own?
Comment below and let us know what your funniest literal City translation is. How about countries? Did we miss any out in our other blog? There’s plenty to choose from.
You can see more on Names of Animals in Chinese translated literally to English
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