Confucius, Volkswagen and interesting Chinese characters


Jǐ suǒ bù yù, wù shī yú rén

“Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself”, 

孔子 Confucius

This is now known worldwide as the Golden rule.


Confucius. born in 551 BC is one of China’s, and the world’s most well known philosophers. His teachings did not become famous for centuries after his death. You may often see him quoted online in memes ‘Confucius says…’ incorrectly quoting something. 

He taught about social order and ethical behaviour and about fulfilling duty in social relationships according to your position in those relationships.The five social relationships are between 1) ruler and ruled, 2)   husband and wife, 3) parents and children, 4) older and younger brothers and 5) friends.

One of the simplest characters is ren which is a person and looks like a person and their legs. 

You will often see this on the side of a character. The 人 can also be written on the side of a character like this 亻

A person up against a tree, means to rest. 

The character for big, is a person with outstretched arms. 

Put two people walking together side by side and it means to follow. 

If you put three people together, just as in the popular western saying “three is a crowd.”


The chinese name for volkwagen is particularly clever for two ways. 

Firstly, the meaning is almost exactly the same, and secondly the appearance of the characters is almost exactly the same but just the other way round. 

Volkswagen is a german word and it means “peoples car” volks has a similar route to Folks, Wagen and Car. The peoples car. 

大众 literally means “the big crowd” or “the masses”, so its also the peoples car.

With such richness of Chinese characters, its quite an art to give a company a good name and is a great opportunity to connect with Chinese people. VW is doing very well in China. 

Some western companies will go on the route of sounding like their western name in Chinese characters. Others might create a new name. 


Google’s Chinese name is Guge, which sounds like google, and it also means “the valley song” (coming from Silicon Valley.).

Are you interested in learning Chinese? Checkout some of the programs in China.

Founder and CEO at China Admissions. Originally from UK🇬🇧, based in Beijing. Studied at Peking University & BLCU. Preparing for HSK 6. Hope we can help more talented international students have the same amazing experiences and opportunities that I have had
Richard Coward

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