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Apple’s Ping Strikes Good Note in Chinese

Ping shui xiang feng: To meet by chance, like patches of drifting duckweed

Apple’s newest iTunes offering, iTunes 10, includes a social networking feature that should be a hit among Chinese speakers. The company named the music-connection service Ping.

Perhaps when Apple execs selected the name they were thinking of the computer term ping. Internet chatters and gamers use the word kind of like an elbow—ping, or nudge someone to see if he’s there. Maybe for their music networking they had in mind ping’s original meaning—a short, almost melodious response to a sonar probe. Whatever their reasons, the name has a great ring for Chinese speakers.

In Chinese, the poetic phrase ping shui xiang feng (萍水相逢) is commonly used to describe causal encounters. Ping (萍) is duckweed, an aquatic plant. The expression means “to meet by chance, like patches of drifting duckweed.” So to use the word ping in relation to social connections—around music or anything else—is very Chinese. Add to that the fact that apple in Chinese is ping guo (traditional: 蘋果; simplified: 苹果), and the name Ping speaks loudly and clearly—and cleverly—of a Chinese Apple online social network.

Traditional: Apple (ping guo)

Traditional: Apple (ping guo)

Simplified: Apple (ping guo)

Simplified: Apple (ping guo)


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