CHINA: Google gets flak for its new Chinese name

Chinese Google fans organize a petition, say Guge is 'unsophisticated'

Straits Times
Saturday, April 22, 2006

Shanghai --- Chinese fans of Google have created an online petition to get the popular search engine to change its Chinese name, "Guge."

Reasons cited are that the name is "weird." "unsophisticated," and could damage the "cool" image of Google in China.

"Google, we love you, but we don't love Guge," said the petition on the website called www.noguge.com. The petition had received more than 3,800 signatures by last night.

It added: "The name Guge is not satisfactory and we are disappointed. Do you hear us, Google?"

Google, whose popularity in China is second only to its Chinese rival Baidu.com, has been receiving flak for its new Chinese name since an elaborate christening ceremony in Beijing last week, which was graced by Google's global chief Eric Schmidt.

China's media were quick to pounce on "Guge," which means harvesting song, saying the Chinese name reflects the United States-based company's lack of understanding of the Chinese psyche, reported the Shanghai Daily.

Guge in Chinese also means a valley song or a grain song. Its English counterpart Google comes from the word Googol, which denotes the No. 1, followed by 100 zeros.

"Google gives us an individualistic feel, yet Guge sounds traditional and rural...in other words, it's outdated," said a blogger on another website.

But Google China remains unfazed by the hullabaloo.

"Guge is not a substitute for Google; rather, it will complement Google," the company answered Shanghai Daily in a statement.

"Names such as gougou (dog dog) could not reflect the responsibilities of a corporate, brand or product name, nor do they reflect fully our goals and mission," it said in reference to one of the more graphic suggestions from Net users.

Google has been in the limelight for its efforts to break into China's Internet market, which included introducing a censored version of its service in compliance with Chinese laws.

A survey last year by the China Internet Network Information Company found that more than half of China's Net users could not correctly spell "Google," a problem the company hopes to sidestep with the new Chinese name.