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Chinese Symbols For Names

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Chinese characters are used rebus-like and exclusively for their phonetic value when transcribing words of foreign origin, such as ancient Buddhist terms or modern foreign names. For example, the word for the country "Romania" is 罗马尼亚 (Luó Mǎ Ní Yà), in which the Chinese characters are only used for their sounds and do not provide any meaning. This usage is similar to that of the Japanese Katakana, although the Katakanas use a special set of simplified forms of Chinese characters, in order to advertize their value as purely phonetic symbols. The same rebus principle for names in particular has also been used in Egyptian hieroglyphs and Maya hieroglyphs. In the Chinese usage, in a few instances, the characters used for pronunciation might be carefully chosen in order to connote a specific meaning, as regularly happens for brand names: Coca-Cola is translated phonetically as 可口可乐 (Kĕkǒu Kělè), but the characters were carefully selected so as to have the additional meaning of "Delicious and Enjoyable".

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