Beauty Is In The Eye

Wires Crossed

If you thought Taiwan, Hong Kong and the rest of China shared a single language, think again: These regions are experiencing a significant language gap when it comes to tech talk, according to Sarah Lubman, a staff writer for the San Jose Mercury News. In Taiwan, for example, the word for "Internet" is wangjiwanglu (the Chinese translation of "Internet"). In mainland China, however, it's yingte (or yinte) wang-yingte being a phonetic rendering of "inter," and wang being the Chinese word for "net." Silicon Valley is translated as xigu ("SHEE-goo") in Taiwan, guigu ("gway-goo") in mainland China.

These variations can be a nuisance for entrepreneurs marketing Chinese-language products. Even though each region may understand the terms used by the other, none appreciates having the wrong terms used. When in doubt, one option is to fall back on English tech terms, which are often used in Taiwan and Hong Kong, though less often in the rest of China.

One source of help is the Hong Kong Computer Society's "An Intelligent Database for Standard Chinese Computer Terminology." Input a term here (in English or Chinese) and you'll get both the mainland Chinese and Hong Kong terms. The database is online at

Contact Source

Scarlett, (800) 862-2311,

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This article was originally published in the May 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Beauty Is In The Eye.

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