Sunday, February 3, 2008

Acronym Madness!

"The most beautiful city......'in' the riverside. MeHAS."

There's this TV commercial here in Taipei that has been driving me crazy with its glaring grammar error in its English part. It's for a new apartment development in XinDian called MeHAS in English (美河市).

Dumb name right? Well it's an acronym: Metro (捷運)、 Environment (環境)、 Health (健康)、 Aesthetic (美學)、 Sustainability (永續). It just so happens to also have the sound for Mei He Shi or 美河市.

It appears to be a play on another acronym, Lo-has, which you might see here and there in Taiwan. I saw it printed on a handbag. It means Life of Health and Sustainability wiki and it's a kind of marketing concept, something that is unfortunately lost on us non-marketing types.

Taiwanese do love their acronyms but often do not know the meanings. Although DIY (do it yourself) is well-known, you will often hear people use DM when talking about flyers or brochures. DM means one of two things, either Distributed Material or Direct Marketing. It depends on who you talk to.

Getting back to MeHAS, I noticed that the error in the TV commercial has since been corrected in a subsequent commercial from 'in' to 'on'. Yeah!

Also, I should point out that although this development's name is dumb, there are worse names used. Often housing developments in Taiwan take names of world destinations along the lines of Edinburgh, Riviera, New Europe, Beautiful New York and the like. It's easy to spot them since the Chinese characters used to represent the names are only used in the sound sense and not the meaning sense.

The most clever names are those that capture a Chinese meaning and a English title at the same time. The best example for this that I know is COSMED drugstore. In English you have the combination of cosmetics (COS) and medicine (MED). In Chinese it translates sound-wise and meaning wise as 康是美 which is Kang (Health) Shi (is) Mei (Beautiful). Very clever indeed!

If you have any other examples of acronyms or names that you want to share, drop me a line!

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