The Chinese for Obama

I’ve been trying to brush up on my Chinese reading skills lately and I noticed that the Chinese name for Obama is 奥巴马 (pronounced “ào bā mă“).  Now, the first syllable “ao” is a word often used to render into Mandarin certain English proper nouns unwieldy to the Chinese tongue — like “Australia,” “Oslo,” and the ubiquitous “Olympics”.  What’s funny to me is that apparently this “ao” also means “mysterious” or “obscure”…

The second word “ba” is also commonly used to convey the sound of English words, as in “Ba xi” for Brazil or “Ba li” for Paris. *Supposedly*, though I’ve never heard it used this way, “ba” can also be used as a verb meaning “to hope” or “to wish”….

The third word “ma” is a very common one meaning “horse”.

So…all of our hopes are riding on the mysterious hope horse!

Ride onwards, hope horse. Ride onwards.


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