A quick primer in pronouncing ‘Huawei’

Huawei is looking to expand their brand in North America, but if they are going to succeed there is one matter of business they must address: just how are we supposed to pronounce the company’s name? Given our limited exposure to Huawei, it’s no surprise that Americans have had more than their fair share of trouble sounding it out. In my rounds at various industry events I have encountered quite a few creative pronunciations from members of the tech press and general public alike, but it wasn’t until now that Huawei has made an effort to set the record straight.

The above video is more or less a fun way to get people interested in Huawei’s brand and is part of a much larger effort to stake a claim in the United States and elsewhere. It’s simply the next phase in an expansion process that began with the introduction of high-powered devices like the Huawei Ascend P1 and Huawei Ascend D Quad, handset that signaled a new direction for the Chinese company as it repositions itself in the market, distancing the company from its roots as a manufacturer of low-cost and entry-level feature phones and smartphones.

So, be honest. Who has been pronouncing the name correctly all along? And who needed this brief lesson?

[via DroidDog]

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  • Matt Tanksley

    Funny, I was placing a little more emphasis on the ‘H’. Hu-WAH-way(the ‘u’ is very short, almost unnoticeable.

    • Khang Tran

      Cool wHip?

  • JulianZHuang

    how come he didnt ask any asian?

    • mrSkippo

      the guy at 0:30 is asian, isnt he? or is that bad profiling on my part?

      • Anthony Ngo


  • Aaron soles

    I knew I was saying it wrong lol

  • Carl Rood

    So, why does it start with an H? I pronounced it like Hawaii without the second i.

    • Sonelone

      It is pronounced with an H in China.

      • Carl Rood

        OK. That makes sense, but then why a different pronunciation in English?

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002690227024 Christopher Earle

          It isn’t different, it is incorrect in the ad. I’m surprised that Huawei signed off on this, but maybe it was their a-dog-a team in N. America…

  • Haggie

    Why would a company with ZERO brand recognition enter a new market with a name that is impossible for natives to pronounce, has no meaning or association in the new market, and will SEVERELY impact growth in that market?

    The cost of creating a U.S. brand could probably be recouped in less than one quarter’s improved sales numbers.

    Huawei – Chinese for “no marketing experience”

    • TheWenger

      How many Americans do you think pronounce Hyundai like “heeeeeyunday”? I know I used to.

      • http://cashd00d.co.cc/ WHAT?

        Most people I know pronounce it “HOND-EYE”.

      • JMcGee

        Not many Americans, but the British sure do.

      • Ben Kapferer

        If I’m correct, I think “hee-yuhn-day” is the pronunciation that’s technically correct.

        • Mr. JacKaL

          Actually, Hyundai had commercials similiar to this for their pronounciations as well. it’s pronounced like Sunday.. “Hunday”…

    • http://twitter.com/YanivC Yaniv C

      You are ignorant. Please don’t bother getting upset or replying. That’s plain stupid. A company as big as Huawei is not about to lose its identity going into a new market. It builds its brand name through marketing. Hyundai was virtually unknown in the US in the 80s. When they first arrive they sold a new car with full power everything and a sunroof for under $5k. Today they make a $60k car that rival top luxury brands AND is the number 1 auto maker in the US.

      • Canon User

        They’ll never have a presence here under a brand that will never be pronounced correctly. *shrug*

        • Mr. JacKaL

          I guess you’re wrong. Look at Hyundai… If anything a unique name gets more attention than a common name. Huawei actually makes some sweet phones, do some research before shrugging out of ignorance..

          • Carl Rood

            How is Hyundai even comparable? It’s a silent “Y”. Even pronouncing the Y and/or the “AI” as I, is still very close so that people can match the word to the pronunciation and know what you’re talking about. This isn’t even close. No one’s going to look at “HU” and think “W”

            For example, if someone recommends the brand verbally, the common mispronunciations of Hyundai will still lead to the right place. People are at leas pronouncing it base on the spelling. At worst, you might end up at Honda. However, in this case a person is going to look on the shelves for something that starts with “W”, and never think of looking under “H” because there’s no instance in the English language of “HU” sounding like “W”

          • EarlyMon

            I’m just glad that Babba Wawwa didn’t read that to me.

            (just kidding)

      • peanutsrevenge

        Well I agree about a new name, but due to pronunciation and more due the fact the devices I know them for are their routers, which are complete and utter garbage.
        because of that I wouldn’t buy their phones with your money.
        bad name and bad products.

      • cherubdawg

        Hyundai got where they are DESPITE their name, in thanks because of it. One could speculate that could have done much better if they didn’t have that name to hold them back.

  • RitishOemraw

    I always thought Hu-Wah-Way
    But Wah-Way sounds a little better.

  • Crazydog

    I’m glad he gave it away at the beginning so that I could stop watching when the stupid “Reality Show” music came on.

  • http://twitter.com/Vanakatherock Vanakatherock

    I originally pronounced it “Hue Way” myself, but heard someone else pronounce it the way they say it should be in the video. “Wah Way”

  • famished

    Huawei Zowei

  • Tony McDowell
  • Nee Austin

    Huawei means “thank you for your secrets” in Chinese.

  • Sai

    Wah-way? There I was saying hu-Ah-way:-

  • YellowSnow

    Just watched a (recorded from yesterday) show on CNBC called “Cyber Espionage: The Chinese Threat”. At one point in the show, there’s an accusation that Huawei benefited from stolen intellectual property from Nortel. There’s no hard proof but lots of circumstantial evidence. I don’t doubt it a bit.

  • Evan Drinkert

    ‘wHy am I saying wHat wHat way?’ Couldn’t resist…

  • http://profiles.google.com/luke.hutch Luke Hutchison

    Don’t forget to teach people the tones too: Huáwéi…

    Rather than using standard pinyin romanization, hey should just romanize the first syllable as “Hwa”, the way they do in Korea for the syllable 화, because it also works with the default rules of English pronunciation (even though h+w is never found in English). Just re-writing the namem “Hwa-way” would get everybody pronouncing it the right way (minus the tones).

    Or alternatively, come up with a better English name that means something along the lines of the meanings of the Hua and Wei characters. Chinese companies do this all the time, translating an English name into Chinese characters that kind of sound like the name but have mnemonic meaning in Chinese. e.g. “Coca Cola” -> “ke-kou ke-le” (“palatable, and able to bring you great joy”). Huawei simultaneously means “splendid achievement” and “China is able”. So just rename Huawei in English to “China is Able of Splendid Achievements Co, Ltd”. Or just “China Kicks Butt, Ltd” for short.

  • jlschulz098

    It’s pronounced communist chinese company trying to steal those rem8ning jobs that we didn’t already give to them

  • http://www.Verizonsucks.com/ Johnny Test

    This company starts with the ketter E for espionage

  • roiji

    srly? *facepalm*

  • Michael Thompson

    No way! ;)

  • Matthew DeCillis

    I was pronouncing it WhoWhy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002690227024 Christopher Earle

    Aside from the fact that it isn’t being pronounced correctly in the ad. The H is aspirated, not silent (we’ve spoken Chinese at home for over 20 years, trust me on this). It isn’t pronounced differently in English, it isn’t English. And I’m embarassed by the ignorance shown by Americans in that commercial. Of course, American’s can’t figure out how to pronounce Hyundai, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.