Being able to read regular Japanese doesn't necessarily mean you can read Chinese as well. For one thing: regular Chinese uses a lot of characters you are not likely to see in everyday Japanese. Secondly and perhaps more importantly: you need to know Chinese words (and grammar). But the name of this Chinese store in my neighborhood was interesting beyond containing unkown characters and words.

First of all, I really liked the way the characters where shaped - even though I had to look three times at the first character before I realised I was looking at three times , constituting .

However, the other thing that intrigued me was the way the Chinese name of the store had been rendered in Latin. The Latin name of the shop was TOKO XINVOL and especially the part ‘VOL’ attracted my attention, because ‘vol’ really doesn't fit the phonology of Chinese in any transcription that I know of. However, when I take ‘vol’ as a Dutch word, it captures the meaning of the second character in the Chinese name 滿 (‘vol’ is English ‘full’). But to attach that directly to obviously Chinese ‘xin’ - I had never seen that before.

Actually the store's name TOKO XINVOL as a whole is a mix of three languages: Malay, Chinese and Dutch: The word TOKO is originally Malay and is used in Dutch to indicate an Indonesian or Chinese store that carries food products. XIN is a transcription of , a word that is used exclusively in names but has the happy connotation of prosperity ( consists of three times - also a character on its own, for the word jīn, ‘gold; metal; money, wealth’).[1] VOL is Dutch and apparently used as the equivalent for 滿 mǎn (its main meaning being ‘full’). Finallly the character háng designates a firm or a shop.[2]

While I'm not really certain what the owner of this store was thinking when he came up with this surprising TOKO XINVOL for 鑫滿行 I like it.[3]

1. Far East Chinese-English Dictionary 遠東漢英大辭典. 臺北: 遠東, 1993.

2. Contribution of Kattebelletje. Compare Japanese (and Chinese) 銀行 (‘bank’).

3.The shop folded whitin a year.