Gazette:News:加油, a Chinese cheer

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La Gazette

One of the most perplexing language issues at the Olympic games is how to translate the all-purpose Chinese cheer, “加油!” (jiayou!), into English (or any other language).

加 means to “add.” 油 means “oil” or “fuel.” (And technically gas stations are often called 加油站, or jiayou stops). But it’s almost never chanted in the context of a gas station. Instead, you’ll hear it often chanted at these Olympic games when the audience wants the competitors to dig deep and put in an extra effort. Here is a YouTube video explaining how to chant 加油 to go with the official Olympic civilized chant hand gestures). But around the Web you can find a variety of struggles as the Chinese try to translate this all-purpose cheer into English. (On some chat boards it even makes it into the category of most frequently asked translations.)

By Jennifer 8. Lee, NYTimes Olympics blogs



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