Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy

Single? May Your Year of the Horse Include Elephants!

Posted by Tina | 01.31.14

"horse top has money"

Happy Year of the Horse!

If you’re like me, you’ve probably already been bombarded by all kinds of horse images lately. But have you seen some really bizarre equine images? Not the ones of prancing horses, their manes blowing wildly in the wind, but perhaps of horses carrying objects on their backs? From objects relatively auspicious, such as bags of money, to somewhat bizarre objects, such as a vehicle or a house? Or even two elephants?

You may correctly guess that the use of a horse image is because it’s the Year of the Horse, and maybe having a horse carry money means wishing for good fortune. Of course there’s more to it.

In Chinese, this image reads “马上有钱”, which translates to “horse top has money”. The first two characters “horse” and “top” in the phrase, however, individually rhymes with the word “right away”. The true meaning of the horse-and-money bag image, therefore, is best wishes that you make/get a fortune right away.”horse top has vehicle“

Now you can probably guess that a horse carrying a vehicle means wishing to get a vehicle right away, and a horse carrying a house means wishing to get a house right away.

In Chinese language, many words or characters are homophones, meaning they sound exactly the same or similar. There’s lots of opportunity for play on words and to create seemingly disjointed yet meaningful images out of the homophonic phrases.

"horse top has (a) pair (of) elephants"The image of a horse with two elephants is another fun play on words. In the word by word translation, the image can be read as “horse top has (a) pair (of) elephants”. “Pair elephants” in Chinese sounds like the word “spouse/date”. So the image means wishing to get a spouse/date right away.

If you run a dating service, try attracting the Chinese market during the Year of the Horse by including this otherwise bizarre image in your promotional materials: a pair of coy elephants riding upon a wild stallion! Shoes optional.