It seems that Huawei must be getting slightly ticked off at people incorrectly pronouncing their company name. They have gone so far as to create the above video, where they teach the good people of New York how to say it right.

It turns out I am guilty of saying it incorrectly myself. The official pronunciation is 'WAH-WAY" which will feel a bit odd to native English speakers. Like many I suspect I have been using the 'HOW-WAY' variation, which we now know to be bad and wrong.

Huawei's sales have gone through the roof in recent years -- the company turned over $32 Billion last year which was a 11% increase on 2010. With the Chinese company now selling its own brand devices overseas, it makes sense that it's trying to get consumers better acquainted with its name.

At least now we know. And knowing is half the battle.


Reader comments

How to pronounce Huawei the official way


Yeah this is about a year overdue! Whenever you guys do an article on their devices I just skip it because I had no clue how to pronounce the name which just turned me off to the brand. Maybe now I'll pay attention.

Huawei is the second largest supplier of telecom equipment in the world after Ericsson; that's not the phones and user devices, but towers and base stations. They also make other electronics, including Android phones, and have very fast growing R&D.

I didn't know the "H" in the beginning of the name was completely silent... you learn something every day...

Well... It is technically not silent, but for the easy of simplicity, I think Huawei made it easy for westerners to pronounce.

The actual pronunciation closer to this: "Whoo-a Way-ee" (If I' remember correctly Al Pacino's habitual "Whoo-ah!" in the some of his movies, is very similar but without the surprise, of course.)

The H in Chinese is NEVER silent. If you ask anyone who speaks Mandarin, you'll know that Huawei is for some reason pushing an improper pronunciation of its own name. Their marketing "geniuses" must think this is easier for English speakers, but I think it's equally strange to them. Should have just stuck with the right pronunciation.

Exactly, the H in Hua should be pronounced. Not sure why they're trying to silence it, kinda odd.

Yes, of course. But this is the way a poor little german guy with school english will pronounce it. It's a kind of german-english for a chinese company name. Many company names are pronounced wrong in Germany. For example "Woolworth" is pronounced like "Wall-ward"....funny

I was close. Every time I've seen that name I start to pronounce it in my head and just give up right away and say like "that company". Lol

But before watching the video, I thought about it and pronounced it almost the same but with a slight H sound in the beginning. Hwah-way.

I think it depends (or should) on how thick your chinese accent is. Not that i have anything against chinese speakers, but pronouncing it with a W sound instead of an H sound is something that happens when you don't have an H sound in your dialect... Most of the chinese I know with strong english do put an H sound at the beginning since "americanized" words have more H sounds in them. And FWIW, I have spent time working in the Huawei building in Shenzhen.

I always pronounced it "hue away", because that's how the text-to-speech engine I use on my computer pronounces it.

That's great, but surprisingly* enough the white guy who doesn't know Chinese isn't pronouncing it correctly, there is an "h" sound at the beginning of "Hua." 華為技術有限公司 is the full name of the company with 華 being "Hua." Don't believe me? Copy 華 and paste it in Google translate.

*not surprising

Thank you, that means I had it right from the beginning, "hwah-way". I wondered what had happened to the H in the beginning...

Reminds me of how Stewie Griffin says "coolhwip"...

No, you were right at the beginning. The H is *NOT* silent. The video is wrong. People have said it enough in YouTube comment.

Sad that this comes from the official video.

Editor, please re-check the fact.

No, although the name is written using hanyu pinyin as per Communist Party regulations, the pronunciation in Cantonese and almost all other languages in China is Wah Wei. Only that horrid version of mandarin uses the strong W sound (still no H sound by the way), should be written Hwa as in Taiwan, but then China can never do anything right. And 華為 is the correct name for the company, again there are restrictions on using correct Chinese in China, the Communist Party in general forces companies to only use simple chineese instead of correct Chinese, hence their incorrect Chinese writing in addition to the incorrect phonetic version.

Why are you using the Traditional Chinese? I thought it being in China it should be written in Simplified "华为技术有限公司"?

Okay, now that we've broken down "Huawei", we can move on with the rest of the sentance? How to pronounce "phuq awl tha China jhonk" in English please? That would be more useful to the evidently few of us that can actually afford quality.

Wow.... You are not only insulting China's Chinese, but those of us who were born generations after our ancestors migrated out.

Please don't do that. Most of the things you considered high quality these days have their origin in China's factories.

Way to expose yourself as an ignorant bigot! Too bad your parents could not afford quality contraception.

That would be the point. Thanks for bringing that to light for us, Captain Obvious. It's too bad my parents couldn't afford to pay your parents more. They might have found a real Dr. to address your social retardation. I'll bet you're a lonely fry cook, aren't you?

Now I can properly pronounce the brand of phones I've never been remotely interested in, yah-YAY!

UHH....except that is NOT how you pronounce it. Unless Huawei is making up this new pronunciation because it's easier for native English speakers to say. Which I guess is possible.

I was told by Huawei the best way to pronounce it was "who-are-we", this was a giggle at first as none of my team had heard of them!

The "H" is pronounced. WAH-WAY is actually incorrect. It's actually pronounced like HWAH-WAY.

I watched the video and thought "Ha, I've been pronouncing it wrong the whole time because I thought they were Chinese, wonder where they are from?" So I looked it up on Wikipedia. Looks like they are Chinese and I have been pronouncing it correctly this whole time (at least according to Mandarin).

Yet another example of how defective pinyin romanization is for English speakers (and Chinese who try to learn English pronunciation). I can speak romanized Korean or Japanese easily and be mostly understood (tones won't be right unless additional tone marks are included). Pinyin unfortunately is a farce for at least half of the character sounds in relation to their English pronunciations; maybe easier for Russian speakers who wish to learn Chinese?

It doesn't matter if pinyin romanization is defective for English speakers or not. Pinyin was created for billions of Chinese speakers. Children in China study Pinyin for correct pronunciation from elementary school. In addition, no special keyboard is required for inputting Chinese, which is another advantage of Pinyin. Simple and effective for Chinese speakers.

I'm afraid you've missed my point. More than a billion Chinese are taught the incorrect (English) sounds for the Roman character set. The sounds the children are taught in fact do not match the sounds of any language that only uses Roman characters. Many pinyin sounds have no correlation to the English sounds for the same roman characters. This results in Chinese native speakers incorrectly pronouncing English words and English speakers getting nowhere close to the correct pronunciation of Mandarin words, even though only Roman characters are used.

When I experienced many Beida graduates and a Tsinghua University English professor struggle with proper English pronunciation, I place the blame fully on pinyin. Huawei's issue with an easily mispronounced company name by English speakers is the exact same problem.

How many native English speakers get the pronunciation of "xixi" correct without assistance? ;-)

We are 100% in agreement on the ease pinyin yields for keyboard input of Chinese words. I only wish the central government would decree for a better phonetic conversion of Mandarin words into Roman characters, much like the improvements made with the simplified character sets.

"The sounds the children are taught in fact do not match the sounds of any language that only uses Roman characters."
I would actually argue Gaelic is a much worse offender on the "sounds to letters" area. A person who doesn't know Chinese is more likely to pronounce pinyin correctly (minus tones) then any of the other romanisation systems I've seen (Wade-Giles being the one I hate the most).

EDIT: The example of Gaelic that first comes to mind is the famous musician "Enya"'s name is actually spelled "Eithne". I can understand the "Ei" standing in for some vowel sound that doesn't actually exist in English, but as I understand "Eith" is in fact the vowel sound.

Really? So your pronunciation of Korean or Japanese is perfect? Or your pronunciation of French or Italian or German? Only pinyin is defective? If you are going to complain about how the written form is difficult to read why not demand every language in the world switch to IPA?

Oh, heavens no, my pronunciation in Korean and Japanese based on romanized words could never be perfect, especially when lacking the tone indicators. My point is that it's close enough that a local can understand me while traveling in those countries. The phonetic based romanization used assumes English based sounds and is quite helpful. No look up table of sound conversions is required; what you see is what you speak.

Pinyin unfortunately is the opposite and is very poorly done from a phonetic standpoint. If it was based on Russian sounds (should use Cyrillic letters instead) or French, that would be fine as the pronunciation would at least be consistent. Instead pinyin was based on a hodge-podge of well intended folks attempting to romanize Mandarin on prior methods.

This article on Huawei mispronunciation simply highlights that it's time to look for opportunities for improvement on pinyin now that the world is becoming a smaller place and we all want to communicate with each other. :-)

I can sort of agree with you, but my big problem is that basing it on English is the worst idea possible. There are too many sounds that don't properly exist in English or there is almost no distinction between (zh vs j, sh vs x both come to mind as sounds I can't think of specifically in English), and then the fact that English has too many ways to make the same sound and too many ways to read the same letter (xylophone and hex, though and cough). Pinyin does a good job in so far as taking the sounds that exist in both and using the same character, and then taking the unused letters and combination and trying to get as close a match as possible in my opinion.