Advertising Hack: Buying an iPhone in Chinese

Unlike our last Advertising Hack, we can easily tell that this is an advert for the iPhone 3GS. Knowing that before reading anything else, we can prepare ourselves for the things we might run into when reading the text – things such as contracts, pricing, features etc. It sounds obvious, but remember to look for these visual clues, sometimes just seeing blocks of Chinese text can put people off (you’d be forgiven for blurring over the blue box at the bottom of this leaflet), so see what you can find before looking at the text.

There isn’t a huge amount of text on this leaflet cover, but there are some useful words that you’ll find are frequently used in other forms of advertising.  Let’s start from the top:

10萬種應用程式 10萬種驚奇樂趣
10万种应用程式 10万种惊奇乐趣


Pinyin: wàn
Zhuyin: ㄨㄢˋ
English: ten thousand


Pinyin: yìng yòng chéng shì
Zhuyin: ㄧㄥ (ㄧㄥˋ) ㄩㄥˋ ㄔㄥˊ ㄕˋ
English: application, 應用 is to put something to use, and 程式 is a program (a pattern or set of procedures)


Pinyin: jīng qí
Zhuyin: ㄐㄧㄥ ㄑㄧˊ
English: amazing, wonderous


Pinyin: lè qù
Zhuyin: ㄌㄜˋ ㄑㄩˋ
English: fun, enjoyment

Knowing the keywords for this sub-header makes it easy to understand, the direct translation is as follows:

100,000 types of application, 100,000 types of amazing fun

Although the following sounds more natural in English:

100,000 apps, 100,000 ways to have fun

Below the main image is the pricing for the iPhone which is as follows:



Pinyin: yuè jiǎo
Zhuyin: ㄩㄝˋ ㄐㄧㄠˇ
English: monthly (月) fee (繳), although 繳 means ‘to pay’ or to hand something over.


Pinyin: qǐ
Zhuyin: ㄑㄧˇ
English: Here 起 means ‘ and up’, so in English we would say “starting at $1,349”, or “$1,349 and up”


Pinyin: shǒu jī
Zhuyin: ㄕㄡˇ ㄐㄧ
English: mobile phone (literal: hand phone)

So now we know if you’re willing for fork-out $1,349 a month for your phone bill, you can get the iPhone for only $3,900


Pinyin: xīn chūn xiàn dìng
Zhuyin: ㄒㄧㄣ ㄔㄨㄣ ㄒㄧㄢˋ ㄉㄧㄥˋ

English: 新春 is a period of time in early spring, and 限定 means to limt or restrict – So now we know that the special offer is limited to the early spring, and looking inside the leaflet confirms this: 活動期間:99年3月1日~3月31日 (Offer valid between the 3rd and the 31st of March).


Pinyin: huó dòng qí jiān
Zhuyin: ㄏㄨㄛˊ ㄉㄨㄥˋ ㄑㄧˊ  ㄐㄧㄢ
English: 活動 usually means ‘activity’, but in the sense of an advertisement it means the ‘offer’ or ‘promotion’, as in 促銷活動, while 期間 means a period of time.

The next part is quite long, so let’s list out the keywords first:


Pinyin: dā pèi
Zhuyin: ㄉㄚ ㄆㄟˋ
English: to accompany, go with (used for things rather than people)


Pinyin: zhǐ dìng fāng àn
Zhuyin: ㄓˇ ㄉㄧㄥˋ ㄈㄤ ㄢˋ
English: 指定 here means specific, specified, or designated, 方案 is plan or a programme


Pinyin: suí shēn bú duàn diàn
Zhuyin: ㄙㄨㄟˊ ㄕㄣ ㄅㄨˊ ㄉㄨㄢˋ ㄉㄧㄢˋ
English: not really a saying, but rather a name that they have given to a package of free gifts that comes with the phone: 隨身 is to carry on your person, 不斷電 means to not(不) cut off (斷) power/electricity (電). The package of free gifts is for a car charger and USB docking station. English would be something like ‘portable power kit’.


Pinyin: pèi jiàn zŭ
Zhuyin: ㄆㄟˋ ㄐㄧㄢˋ ㄗㄨˇ
English: 配件 is accessories, while 組 means a group, collection or kit in this usage


Pinyin: xī(xié) mén hào rù gòu jī
Zhuyin: ㄒㄧ (ㄒㄧㄝˊ) ㄇㄣˊ ㄏㄠˋ ㄖㄨˋ ㄍㄡˋ ㄐㄧ
English: This is some mobile phone jargon, notifying that you can bring your existing mobile phone number with you: 攜(携)”bring along, bring with”, 門號 (门号) “line number”,  入 “into”, 購機(购机)purchase the device/phone.


Pinyin: zài jiā mǎ sòng guó nèi tōng xìn fèi
Zhuyin: ㄗㄞˋ ㄐㄧㄚ ㄇㄚˇ ㄙㄨㄥˋ ㄍㄨㄛˊ ㄋㄟˋ ㄊㄨㄥ ㄒㄧㄣˋ  ㄈㄟˋ
English: 再 means “again/furthermore”, 加碼 is to raise a quote/stakes/price, 送 is to give (a gift/present) for free, 國內 means domestic/within the country and lastly 通信費 is communication fee.

So if we look at this last part in full, following some translation magic we get:


Bring your phone number with you when you buy a phone, and we’ll add more free minutes (to your plan)

Originally what appeared to be a simple and easy to read leaflet, turned out to contain some complicated (for foreign learners of Chinese) phrases or words – especially the last part about bringing your phone number over.

Over the next few weeks we’ll have a look at more types of advertising and see if we can find a pattern of common word usage between – if you have any requests for which type of ads we should look at, leave a comment below:

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