We Londoners love nicknaming our buildings, but if we’re honest the outcome tends to kind of lack creativity: ‘The Gherkin’ – because it looks like a big pickle, ‘The Walkie Talkie’ – because it looks like, err, a walkie talkie. The Chinese, on the other hand, have gone wild renaming a whole load of London’s buildings, streets and celebrities and we have to admit, they’re rather blooming great. Forget the Shard – say hello to ‘The Tower That Allows Us to Pluck Stars From the Sky’…
Understandably, Mandarin speakers have had a bit of a hard time translating the names of English people and places into their vastly different mother tongue. So rather than huffing and puffing over bucking ham palaces and ditches on the shore, they’ve decided to save the stress and give them all totally new names instead.
With Chinese New Year just around the corner, tourism agency VisitBritain asked Chinese visitors in London to reveal their preferred names for our iconic attractions, and the answers are stupendous.
There’s the say-it-as-it-is ‘street of the rich’ (Knightsbridge), the nostalgic ‘Remembering the Old Days Street’ (Carnaby Street), the fabulously honest ‘novelty-seeker area’ (Shoreditch) and the highly complimentary ‘Tall, Rich, Handsome Street’ (Saville Row).
Topping the list of attractions they wanted to rename was The Shard. After sifting through 406 suggestions, the winner was ‘The London Cone’. (We definitely prefer the star-plucking option.)
Because he’s such a babe, they’ve even nicknamed Curly Fu! Sorry, we mean Benedict Cumberbatch. That’s right, everybody loves a bit of Curly Fu in Beijing.
Okay, so they aren’t all so wonderfully imaginative, the ‘Xiao Huang Gua’ translates to ‘the pickled cucumber’ (you can probably guess which building that is). Similarly Beefeaters are known as ‘Blade-carrying Imperial Bodyguards’, because we guess the translation of ‘beef eater’ would be a bit odd.
They also nicknamed a few other notable groups and events across the country, our favourite being ‘The Highland Games’ which they renamed ‘the strong-man skirt party’. YES.
Take a look at the full wonderful list below.
London Landmarks Renamed
Knightsbridge – ‘Fu Ren Jie’ (Street of the Rich)
The Shard – ‘Lun Dun Zhui’ (London Cone)
Buckingham Palace – ‘Bai Jin Han Gong’ (A White, Gold and Splendid Palace)
Hampton Court Palace – ‘Han Yuan’ (Palace with Vast Treasures)
The Gherkin – Xiao Huang Gua (The Pickled Little Cucumber)
King’s Cross St Pancras – ‘Mo Fa Huo Che Zhan’ (Magic Station)
Beefeater – ‘Huang Jia Dai Dao Shi Wei’ (Blade-carrying Imperial Bodyguards)
Leadenhall Market – ‘Li Deng Hai’ (Sea of Gorgeous Lights)
Carnaby Street – ‘Kai Nian Jie’ (Remembering the Old Days Street)
Savile Row – ‘Gao Fu Shuai Zhi Lu’ (Tall, Rich, Handsome Street)
Portobello Market – ‘Po Tao Bao Li Shi Chang Po-tao-Bao-Li’ (To Find Treasures)
Shoreditch – ‘Lie Qi Qu’ (Novelty-seeker Area)
Trooping the Colour – ‘Jing Qi Sheng Dian’ (Banners-and-Flags Ceremony)
Source: VisitBritain ‘GREAT names for GREAT Britain’ campaign
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