Saturday, November 03, 2012

Oh that Madame Curie!

My office is located in a building with a name: Marie Curie.

One day a coworker talked about the book he was reading, a biography about Marie Curie. He asked if I heard about her. He was surprised by my answer. Yes, I didn't know who was Marie Curie and why she was famous. He couldn't believe it.

The problem is, I usually read in Chinese. And in Chinese, we could not reproduce the exact pronunciation of certain words, especially when it involves names.

Would you know who is Madam Chu Li (居里夫人)?

Someone posted something about Madam Chu Li and that caught my attention. I have heard of this Madam Chu Li since I was young. Could she be the Marie Curie my coworker was talking about? BINGO! Looked at the wikipedia in English and in Chinese and the result is: Madam Chu Li = Madam Marie Curie.

So Chu Li is the Chinese way of pronouncing Curie. Note that in Chinese we do not have the "R" sound so everything R would be pronounced as L.

Well, this was not the first time it happened to me. Sometimes people talk about famous characters or celebrities but I just had no idea who they were talking about. The first few years I was in Austin, people laughed at me because I pronounced so badly certain people's name. For example, MaLiLian MongLu = Marilyn Monroe.

Hubby showed me this photo and he was laughing like hell. I didn't get the point, this is just a typical bookstore name, you get a bunch in China and Hong Kong. He then told me :" Look, it is the "Wrong Fucking" bookstore"!

Ok, I would never have guessed...


  1. "He then told me :" Look, it is the "Wrong Fucking" bookstore"!

    And that's the first thing I thought too! Funny pic that, thanks...

  2. LOL - these Chinese names really are funny in different accents. There is a local Chinese restaurant in Sydney called "Fook Yuen", you can imagine what the Aussies say.