Translation Approaches in Rendering Names of Tourist Sites

Siowai LO


This article identifies the translation approaches adopted in the translation of names of tourist sites in China and examines how ‘fame’ and ‘popularity’ may influence these approaches. Upon analyzing a corpus of scenic site names, it is found that ‘pure phonetic’, ‘phonetic (name) + semantic (class)’, ‘pure semantic’, and ‘phonetic (location) + semantic (name) are the four major patterns in the translations of site names. On the whole, the data shows that phonetic translation is dominant over semantic translation. Meanwhile, ‘fame’ and ‘popularity’ have great impact on the translated names of scenic sites. The findings also suggest that a phonetic translation approach is preferred in rendering names of world-famous sites whereas a semantic translation approach is more frequently used for the name translation of sites located in places with higher popularity. The conflicting results reflect China’s struggle between preserving its cultural flavor for the sake of national identity and catering to foreign visitors for the benefit of the country’s tourism development.


Attraction Names, Phonetic Translation, Semantic Translation, Foreignization, Domestication

Full Text:



Aurousseau, M. (1957). The rendering of geographical names. Hutchinson University Library.

Ballard, M. (1993). Le Nom Propre En Traduction. Babel, 39(4), 194-213.

Clark, I. D. (2009). Naming sites: Names as management tools in indigenous tourism sites –An Australian case study. Tourism Management, 30, 109-111.

CNTA. (2008). AAAAA Scenic Areas. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from

CNTA. (2008). International Tourists by Locality. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from

Cronin, M. (2003). Translation and globalization. Routledge.

Cronin, M. (2006). Translation and identity. Routledge.

Dann, G. (1996). The language of tourism: A sociolinguistic perspective. CAB International.

Ecker, L. (1940). The place concept in Chinese. Linguistic Society of America, 16(1), 17-28.

Fernandes, L. (2006). Translation of names in children’s fantasy literature: Bringing the young reader into play. New Voices in Translation Studies, 2, 44-57.

Francis, J., Lam, J. & Walls, J. (2002). Executive insights: The impact of linguistic differences on international brand name standardization: A comparison of English and Chinese brand names of Fortune-500 companies. Journal of International Marketing, 10(1), 98-116.

Hollis, J. & Valentine, T. (2001). Proper-name processing: Are proper names pure referencing expressions?. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 27(1), 99-116.

Hermans, T. (1988). On Translating Proper Names, with reference to De Witte and Max Havelaar. The Athlone Press.

Huang, Y. Y. & Chan, A. K. (2005). The role of language and culture in marketing communication: A study of Chinese brand names. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication, 15(2), 257-285.

Kaups, M. (1966). Finnish place names in Minnesota: A study in cultural transfer. Geographical Review, 56(3), 377-397.

Keller, K. L. (1998). The effects of brand name suggestiveness on advertising recall. Journal of Marketing, 62(1), 48-57.

Leiper, N. (1990). Tourist Attraction Systems. Annals of Tourism Research, 17, 367-384.

Li, C. W. C. (2007). Foreign names into native tongues: How to transfer sound between languages-transliteration, phonological translation, nativization, and implications for translation theory. Target, 19(1), 45-68.

Liu, L. H. (Eds.). (1999). Tokens of exchange: The problem of translation in global circulations. Duke University Press.

McCulloch, G. (1989). The game of the name: Introducing logic, language, and mind. Oxford University Press.

Munday, J. (2001). Introducing translation studies: Theories and applications. Routledge.

Nord, C. (2003). Proper names in translations for children: Alice in wonderland as a case in point. Meta: Translators’ Journal, 48(1-2), 182-196.

Pan, Y. & Schmitt, B. (1996). Language and brand attitudes: Impact of script and sound matching in Chinese and English. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 5(3), 263-277.

Parianou, A. (2007). Translating proper names: A functionalist approach. Names, 55(4), 407-416.

Reiss, K. (1976). Texttyp und Übersetzungsmethode. Der Operative Text. Scriptor Verlag.

Rymes, B. (1996). Naming as social practice: The case of little creeper from diamond street. Language in Society, 25(2), 237-260.

Smith, F. P. (1876). The Translation and Transliteration of Chinese Geographical Names. In Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London (Vol. 21, No. 6, pp. 580-582). Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers), Wiley.

Smith, K. (2006). Brand name transfer in advertisements. Languages in Contrast, 5(2), 47-70.

Sofield, T. & Li, S. (1998). Tourism development and cultural policies in China. Annals of Tourism Research, 25(2), 362-392.

Stewart, G. R. (1945). Name on the land: A historical account of place-naming in the United States. Random House.

UNESCO World Heritage Centre. (2019). Properties inscribed on the World Heritage List. Retrieved from

Zabeeh, F. (2012). What is in a name?: An inquiry into the semantics and pragmatics of proper names. Springer.

Zhang, S. & Schmitt, B. H. (2001). Creating Local Brands in Multilingual International Markets. Journal of Marketing Research, 38(3), 313-325

Zhong, Y. & Lin. J. (2007). Are readers lost in foreign land? Investigating the impact of foreignised translation in Guangzhou. Perspectives: Studies in Translatology, 15(1), 1-14.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2013-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

International Journal of Comparative Literature and Translation Studies

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.