The ink has barely dried on Airbnb’s new Chinese name, but the jokes have come fast.
To launch Trips in China, U.S. home-rental company showed off a new name to match, Aibiying.
It says Aibiying (爱彼迎) means to “welcome each other with love.”
But the Chinese think it sounds awkward, and isn’t easily understood.
One Weibo user griped that it’s hard to pronounce two similar-sounding syllables one after the other.
He also added that Aibiying sounds more like “to love to fulfill requests” or worse, “to love Bing” — Microsoft’s search engine’s Chinese name is “Biying.”
Similar comments continue to flow in on Airbnb’s Weibo announcement.
“It’s terrible; please send this feedback to your boss,” said one user. “What a low-standard name,” said another.
Weibo users are also saying that the Aibiying sounded a lot like a company selling sex toys, because “bi” is a homonym for a crude slang term for vagina, and “ying” sounds like the Chinese word for lust.
ChenXiaoBei says: “From its logo and name, Aibiying just sounds like it’s competing against [condom giant] Durex.”
ifeellikeCY: “I’m embarrassed to even put the Airbnb app with the others; it looks like an app for sex products.”
Aibiying was the best one out of 11 names
Aibiying was the chosen out of 11 other candidates that Airbnb already trademarked in China, according to state-run The Paper.
The names are:
遨世邻 (áo shì lín, “travel round the world that is your neighbourhood”)
家在四方 (jiā zài sì fāng, “home is around the four corners of the globe”)
遨往 (áo wǎng, “travel forth”)
爱彼游 and 爱彼行 (ài bǐ yóu/ài bǐ xíng, both of which mean “love travelling together”)
遨彼邻 and 彼心邻 (áo bǐ lín/bǐ xīn lín, “travelling around each other’s neighbourhoods”)
心启遇 (xīn qǐ yù, “the journey your heart initiates”)
遨由伴 (áo yóu bàn, “travel with companions”)
爱彼心 (ài bǐ xīn, “loving travel with each other”)
Airbnb’s new name was undoubtedly meant to court Chinese users, but it was necessary anyway, since Chinese law requires brands to submit a Chinese name.
The company certainly isn’t the first to have found naming itself in Chinese difficult.
Other companies have also been panned for their odd names; Google was criticised when it unveiled its Chinese name (谷歌, pronounced gu-ge) in 2006; while a search for Snapchat’s Chinese name (色拉布, pronounced se-la-bu) on Baidu turns up pictures of labradors.
Bing, the search engine run by Microsoft, still uses its original English domain name in the country, which sounds like the Chinese word for “sick” (bing, or 病).