Salon magazine asked this month whether McDonald’s has developed a “self-hating complex” in China. The reason for its question was the local translation of its slogan – “I’m lovin’ it”.
The Chinese version is Wo jiu xihuan which, as Salon points out, can have pretty negative connotations because the second character in the phrase is used to contradict something emphatically. “The natural implication is that the speaker is responding to someone who has just insulted McDonald’s food,” writes Salon. “While there is no perfect translation for the phrase, it has the same essential spirit as ‘I like it no matter what you say!’”
Hence you might use the phrase in a defensive retort when someone asks: “Why do you eat that garbage?” Salon went to the experts to confirm its analysis and Professor Liu Lening, head of Columbia University’s Chinese language programme, said the publication’s interpretation was correct. He advised that a better translation of ‘I’m lovin’ it’ would have been Wo hen xihua and also suggested Wo hao xihuan, which means “I really like it”.
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