I’ll try to stop posting, soon, about GuGe news, but it’s awfully juicy at the moment.
Donews has a great E-Business World article describing the events that led up to the choice of a Chinese name for Google. According the the article, Google’s Chinese name has been on the drawing board ever since the company hired its first Chinese employee in 2002. In the years since then, the issue has been the sole project bringing together all of Google’s Chinese employees–and that’s a lot of brainpower. It was like trying to come up with a name for a child, one employee explained.
Then a 2005 survey by CNNIC showed that there was no time to wait. 43% of Chinese Internet users referred to the search engine with the English word “Google,” 26% used a Chinese pronunciation, “gougou” (“dog dog”) and 13% used a Chinese pronunciation, “gugou,” that sounds like “ancient dog.” Google undertook its own survey and discovered an even larger range of imaginative pronunciations, including “guoguo” (fruit fruit) and “gougou” (check check). One sees what they were up against.
Being Google, they assembled all the possible Chinese syllables beginning with G or K, threw out the obviously bad ones, and ran the numbers, coming up with something like 2000 candidates. The name had to be new-to-the-world; it had to express Google’s unique character, innovativeness, vitality, freedom, and vigor; it had to be international. But it also had to be more than just a Sinicization of the original Google name; it had to express the unique native spirit and flavor of China.
谷果 (goo-guo, grain fruit) was rejected as too agricultural; 古歌 (goo-guh, ancient song) as too old fashioned.
The final choice, 谷歌 (goo-guh, song of the grain), appeared to Google’s Asia Pacific Chief Marketing Officer, Wang Huainan, late in 2005. It means “Song of the Grain,” expressing the abundance of harvest, but also “Song of the Valley”–a reference to the company’s Silicon Valley roots, according to Zhang Jing, Director of Marketing, Asia Pacific.