Bing Dwen Dwen – Chinese name and origin explained

Bing Dwen Dwen meaning in Chinese

Cuteness overload!

2022 Winter Olympics Bing Dwen Dwen has officially taken over as the cutest mascot ever! He’s just too adorable – but there’s more to him than a pretty face and cuddly appearance. Read more to find out about Bing Dwen Dwen’s origins, name meaning, and more!

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Who is Bing Dwen Dwen?

Bing Dwen Dwen is a giant panda with a suit of ice, a heart of gold and a love of winter sports. The cute buster was brought to us by designers Cao Xue and Jiang Yufan from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. Initially, the team used Bing Tang Hulu, a traditional Beijing winter snack of hawthorn with sugar crust, as a prototype.

Bing Tang Hulu - a traditional Chinese Candied snack
Bingtang Hulu – the prototype of Bing Dwen Dwen (image from meta)

Now Bing Dwen Dwen is everywhere: on T-shirts, posters, planes, and in our hearts. <3

bing dwen dwen products
search results of Bing Dwen Dwen on Amazon

What’s in thy name?

Bing Dwen Dwen’s name – 冰墩墩 – consists of two unique characters: 冰 (bīng) for “ice” and 墩 (dūn) for “robust, healthy, stout”. According to the Chinese Olympic Committee, the two characters were chosen to symbolize purity and represent children, the next generation of Olympic winners, respectively.

It’s easy to understand that 冰(bīng) represents ice. But actually, 墩儿(dūnr) instead of 墩 (dūn) is more commonly used in northern China, often seen in the nickname of children who look strong, stout and healthy (just like Bing Dwen Dwen!). However, since 儿 (retroflex “r”) is pretty hard for foreigners and people in southern China to pronounce, the mascot’s official name was later changed from 冰墩儿 (bīngdūnr) to 冰墩墩 (bīng dūn dūn).

But why Bing Dwen Dwen, and not just Bing Dwen? The answer has to do with reduplication.

Linguistics? In my Olympics? It’s more likely than you think!

Bing Dwen Dwen is an example of ABB-type reduplication: in a three-character reduplicative, the second character is repeated. It’s often done to make the word sound cuter. For example, we often use “胖乎乎” (pànghūhū, “chubby”) to describe cute children with plump limbs and round faces while someone “乐呵呵” (lè hēhē, “giddy”) most often has an optimistic nature.

Now you see why “Bing Dwen Dwen” sounds much cuter than “Bing Dwen”! Yet another question remains: how does it sound? As in, how do you pronounce Bing Dwen Dwen?

How to pronounce and write the original Chinese name?

Bing Dwen Dwen is actually written as Bīng Dūn Dūn in Chinese Pinyin. The problem is, you gotta know Mandarin Chinese pronunciation rules to be able to read it. Chinese Pinyin, while officially used in Mainland China, has to compete with other Chinese Romanization systems abroad, leaving non-Chinese speakers perpetually confused. With this in mind, the Chinese Olympic Committee decided to Romanize the names of their mascots in an entirely new way. Now foreign athletes and fans call Bing Dwen Dwen “d-when d-when”, which is as close to the original “doon-doon” as an average English speaker can get.

Listen to how a native Chinese speaker pronounce 冰墩墩 (bīng dūn dūn)!

The real challenge of the lovable panda’s name isn’t the pronunciation, though: it’s the writing!

Ready to practice your hanzi? Share your handwriting of 冰墩墩 in the comments to show your love!

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