My colleague at Fordham Law, Geoffrey Sant, has written an interesting blog on Salon “McDonald’s self-hating complex: Why its overseas P.R. campaign is the worst of all time” that addresses McDonald’s Chinese slogan which translates “I’m lovin’ it” to 我就喜欢 (wo jiu xihuan).
As Geoff explains: “The second word in this sentence (jiu) is used to emphatically contradict what someone else has said. The natural implication is that the speaker is responding to someone who has just insulted McDonald’s food. While there is no perfect translation for the phrase, it has the same essential spirit as “I like it no matter what you say!”
Every student of Chinese in the West learns about the jiu particle early in their Chinese language career. However, rather than rely on my study of Chinese grammar forty years ago, I checked with Google translate, which suggests that the phrase indeed connotes faint praise, and translates it as “I would like to.”
There are many other similar mistakes in both Chinese and English, including such notables as the “Rongwei” car, which sounded suspiciously like ‘wrong way”, and is now known in English as the Roewe.
Goeff suggests positive alternatives such as “我很喜欢” (wo hen xihuan) or “我好喜欢” (wo hao xihuan), both of which mean “I really like it.”
Apparently the SAIC trademark database reflects a different market reality. When I checked on March 15, 2015, I noticed that McDonald’s has six registrations in four classes (28, 29 , 30, 32 and 43) for 我就喜欢 (wo jiu xihuan). There were an additional 21 registrations by other companies or individuals.
Perhaps McDonald’s has some squatters who are more interested in being paid off than grammatical niceties?