Monday, January 12, 2004
The San Diego Zoo naming announcement reads:
Meaning "Born in the USA" and "Beautiful Life," Mei Sheng has become an instant favorite of panda lovers worldwide, as they have followed his progress from his first week via the Panda Cam. Though he and Hua Mei share the same mother, it was not immediately known who was his father, as mother Bai Yun had mated with male Gao Gao during her estrus period, and was also artificially inseminated with frozen sperm from Shi Shi, who is Hua Mei's sire and now lives in China.As always, this dual translation of his name makes me wonder what characters are being used to write it. The Chengdu Research Base for Giant Pandas uses the characters 美生 for Mei Sheng's name, and 美 (Mei3) means beautiful and 生 (Sheng1) means life or existence, so the "Beautiful Life" translation of 美生 is easy to see.
Getting "Born in the USA" from it takes a little more thinking, although the two characters still work. According to the China Internet Information Center, early Chinese immigrants to the United States phonetically adapted America as 美国 (mei3guo2), which means "the beautiful country." So the 美 in 美生 comes from the same character in 美国. The 生 character comes from 出生 (chu1sheng1), which means "to be born."
[ASIDE: It looks like Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA is translated as 在美国出生 (zai4 mei3guo2 chu1sheng1).]
© 2003–2010 T. Carter Ross