THE WORLDPOST
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Chinese Translation Wrong, Embassy Can't Get It Fixed

The ideal metaphor for the new reality of U.S.-China relations: The U.S. Embassy has been straining, in vain, to get the Chinese government to change the official Chinese transliteration of Obama, from 奥巴马 to 欧巴马 -- basically, from Ao Ba Ma to Ou Ba Ma. As is often the case when China incorporates a foreign word into Chinese characters, the original Ao Ba Ma spelling popped up organically some years ago and stuck, even though it is not a correct translation. Now, as a great piece on Danwei.org explains, the U.S. is trying to persuade China to change it, but China, so far, says no way. The moral: When you can't even get your counterpart in a negotiation to spell your name right, you are probably in for a rough ride.

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