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President Obama’s Chinese names

In China, Obama is transliterated as 奥巴马 (ao ba ma).

奧 (ao) means abstruse, hard to understand.
巴 (ba) means to hope for anxiously, to expect, to cling to, or to stick to.
马 (ma) is a horse. It’s also a Chinese surname and associated with success.
In Taiwan, Obama is transliterated as 歐巴馬 (ou ba ma).

歐 (ou) is a Chinese surname that is short for Europe.
巴 (ba) means to hope for anxiously, to expect, to cling to, or to stick to.
馬 (ma) is a horse. It’s also a Chinese surname and associated with success.
Some bloggers in Taiwan nicknamed Obama 歐馬馬 (ou ma ma) because in the Taiwanese language “O ma ma” happen to mean black or very dark.

For a politician, having a Chinese nickname tends to be a plus because it makes one appear to be more personal and friendly.

For example, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou (馬英九) is well-known by his nickname 小馬哥, literally “little horse brother,” meaning Little Brother Ma.

Reference Links

President Obama’s Chinese Name: Ou Ba Ma


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