Top 12 Funniest Literal Chinese Translations of City Names

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?

Funny Chinese Translations - No sign of any forests in Dublin

Funny Chinese Translations – No sign of any forests in Dublin

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

Spot on

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!

Bangui translates to Team Lucky. We can see why

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.

Funny Chinese Translations : Yerevan - Dirt Village Warm? We don't think so

Funny Chinese Translations : Yerevan – Dirt Village Warm? We don’t think so

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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