Jump to content
  • Sign Up

Panda = 胖的?


Recommended Posts

So, there is this Japanese anime/manga called Shirokuma Cafe, a hilarious show featuring a polar bear, a panda and a penguin. In one episode, Panda starts to have a diet because he feels that he is overweight. The polar bear (who is a real "troll" character) then says that Panda should not feel down, as one of the origin stories behind the Western name "panda" comes from the foreigners exploring China and mishearing 胖的猫熊 as "panda".

I know that the actual origin of the panda name is still under dispute, and the most supportive might be that the word panda has Nepalian origin and has nothing to do with the Chinese name. Is there any evidence supporting the 胖的 version, or was it completely made up for the anime to support that scene? (which could be totally understandable knowing that the polar bear is a pun-obsessed character). I couldn't find any Chinese sources that would support this but maybe some fellow forum member saw something before :)

Thank you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I read a bit of this manga and remember the panda's obsession with puns — it used to make me wonder how they translated it. But I guess I never got as far as the 胖的 bit as I can't remember it. Anyway, this isn't expert knowledge by any stretch of the imagination, but I would be very surprised if 胖的 was the original name in Chinese for a panda, as one wouldn't expect to see humorous, colloquial modern Mandarin used for a name that predated 熊貓/貓熊. Even the joke name on uncyclopedia seems more plausible.


As a general rule, if an animal has a two character name then it's probably a loan word or was considered a subcategory of a broader animal group. For example, 駱駝 is pretty universally regarded as a loan word. The difficulty with 熊貓 is whether it's 熊貓 or 貓熊, as it would help us decide whether the animal was concidered a type of cat or a type of bear. It seems that it's only exclusively called 貓熊 in Taiwan, which makes me think it was a later rationalisation (it seems more like type of bear than a cat so it should be 貓熊). The biggest problem in working this out seems to be that there is a panda-shaped hole in pre-modern Chinese culture. Animals feature in poetry and paintings all the time, but pandas apparently are nowhere to be seen. Some mythological animals have been tentatively identified as pandas, but apart from that, there isn't a pre-modern name for them. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...