Good Morning Silicon Valley has an entertaining swipe at Google’s quest for a Chinese name for its local service…
Google’s running into a vocal backlash in China, and it has nothing to do with its cooperation in state censorship. No, the issue that has galvanized thousands of Chinese to sign an online petition is the search sovereign’s choice of a Mandarin name: Guge, represented by the ideograms for “valley” and “song” (see “Unfortunately, access to the lyrics of ‘Valley Song’ is restricted in China”). Google felt the name conveyed the harvest, “the sense of a fruitful and productive search experience in a poetic Chinese way.” The image that came through to many, however, was closer to a stroll in the country than a hunt through cyberspace. “Google gives us an individualistic feel, yet Guge sounds traditional and rural … in other words, it’s outdated,” wrote one blogger. Then there’s the problem of near-homophones. One Web site operator said, “When I first heard the name Guge, I couldn’t help laughing. It sounded like fool, funny and fart.”
The NoGuge.com site is collecting suggested alternatives, and the leader is Gougou (dog dog), which is how Google is already widely known in China. The company says those folks are barking [sic] up the wrong tree: “Names such as gougou (dog dog) could not reflect the responsibilities of a corporate, brand or product name, nor do they reflect fully our goals and mission.” Other suggestions include Goule (enough), Gugu (auntie), Gugou (ancient dog), Gege (elder brother) and one that may strike a little too close to the bone, considering Google’s concessions to the government — Good Gou (good dog).
How about “Running Dog”? That was one of Mao Zedong’s terms of general abuse for capitalists.