The five mascots for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing have proved a roaring success since they were unveiled earlier this month. However, the English name for these mascots, the "friendlies," has not found approval among Shenzhen's residents and foreigners. Some people suggested renaming the images.
The name "friendlies," derived from the word "friendly," was adopted to express the hospitality of Chinese people towards the rest of the world. However, many complained that the name failed to express the rich traditions behind the mascots.
"This name is too shallow in meaning. There are a lot more of traditional and cultural meanings with the mascots, such as blessings, fortune and good luck," said a lady surnamed Ma from an IT company.
She also said the name had no ear-catching rhythm. It was too long for people not familiar with English.
"A good name for these mascots is very important as it is part of the country's image. I hope the Olympics organizing committee can come up with some better ideas," said Ma.
For Canadian businessman Jamie Rieck, the name did not seem relevant to the subtle designs behind the mascots.
"It's amazing to learn the rich contents in the images. For example the fish represents prosperity, and the swallow, from kite design, symbolizes blessings," he said.
He suggested the name should help foreigners understand the culture behind the mascots. "Otherwise, many foreigners would take them just as five cute cartoon figures."
Liu Weidong, a public servant, suggested that a made-up word could be used to properly express the feelings.
"For the aircraft we have created the word 'taikonaut,' which is very accurate in expression. Why don't we have a new word for the mascots?" he said.
However, Liu admitted that he had forgotten the names of the mascots of the previous Olympic Games, though he still remembered many images.
(Shenzhen Daily November 24, 2005)