Most of the world is familiar with Hello Kitty as she puts her stamp of cuteness on backpacks, shirts, posters, and the occasional jumbo jet or hotel room. But how much do people outside of Japan know about her personal life.
As the Japanese lovingly refer to her as Kitty-chan she is also occasionally known by the name she uses on her British passport, Kitty White. This info is provided by her owners at the Japanese company Sanrio.
However, when we look at Hello Kitty’s bio on Sanrio’s Taiwan website, we discover that Japan may have been wrong all this time. Their translation of the infamous cat’s real British name is not Kitty but in fact Katie.
That’s right, Sanrio’s Chinese language website has her name listed as 凱蒂猫. The last Chinese character simply means cat but when the first two characters are put through Google Translate, we get Katie as the result.
I’m not one to trust a computer translation program flat out, so putting these two characters (凱蒂) into the Chinese language Wikipedia page, the top results are; Katie Perry, K.D. Lang, and Katie Couric. Given the kitten’s British nationality it seems a sure thing that Katie is her real name.
The reason for this is the pronunciation of those two characters in Chinese comes out like KAIDI and is commonly used as a substitute for the English name Katie. If you were to take the literal meaning of those Chinese characters you would get something like “triumphant fruit-stem cat.” I like it but it’s probably too wordy to fit on most merchandise.
It makes sense when you think about it. Why would her parents name a kitty Kitty? It’s like if I had a baby and named it Boy.
Although Japan also uses Chinese characters in their language, this type of phonic substitution is not often done in lieu of the softer image of their katakana alphabet which is usually reserved for foreign words. It was popular to do, however, amongst violent biker sub-cultures in the 70’s, hardly befitting a roly-poly kitten like our Katie.
If you want to have some fun and find your name in Chinese characters just check out Wikipedia and find a celebrity with the same name as you. Then change to the Chinese page.
Hello Kitty’s Katie’s Chinese Language Bio: Sanrio.com.tw
[ Read in Japanese ]