Chinese Names of Popular Western Chains


This week, we are going to look at the Chinese names of popular Western chains, famous among locals and foreigners alike.

But first, let’s see what names you already know – or perhaps can guess.

Look at the first picture and try to put a name and a label of the chain together:



Chinese Names of Popular Western Chains | Exercise

You can check your answers with the following picture:



Chinese Names of Popular Western Chains | Answers
Now let’s have a closer look at each.


1. Starbucks


Do you like coffe,啡 (kāfēi)?

The name of this coffee shop was translated in Chinese by sound. Try to read it out loud:

☕ 星巴克 xīngbākè

And you’ll see that it’s very close to the original name!


2. McDonald’s

The most popular fast-food restaurant, McDonald’s, in Chinese is:

麦当劳 màidāngláo

This name copies the sounds of the name McDonald. Sounds kinda similar, right?

3: KFC

As all we know, ‘KFC’ is an abbreviation of ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’, and a ‘chicken’ in Chinese is 鸡 jī:

🍗肯德基  kěndéjī

So, the last character in the Chinese name for KFC is”chicken”, giving us a hint of this restaurant’s signature dish – fried chicken.


4: Burger King

This example wasn’t translated by sound like the other names – it was translated by meaning. This method is called “tracing”: you translate a lexical item by components:

Burger into 汉堡 hànbǎo; King into 王 wáng.

That’s how we get:

🍔👑汉堡王 hànbǎowáng 

Literally, “burger-king”!


5: IKEA Restaurant

Perhaps you’re thinking “What is IKEA doing in this list?” The answer is –  because of its food court!

You can visit IKEA whenever you crave some comfort food like meatballs with mashed potatoes.

The IKEA’s food court in Chinese would be:

宜家餐厅 🍝 yíjiā cāntīng

It might be useful to know that 宜家 means a “harmonious family”, so this word was translated with the help of two methods at the same time: transcription and tracing.


That’s all so far! What other Western restaurants or any other chains do you like to go in China?

Let us know about your preferences on twitter!

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