Reply to post: Re: Terminology

Bad news for Tencent: Chinese companies steer employees away from Weixin or WeChat

T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

Re: Terminology

@elsergiovolador: Combine or Kombinat was a common name describing a state run enterprise in communist countries

Sorry, but I have to call fake news on it. Most probably not your fault, but we are on a kind of social media here and have a responsibility... Are you a Russian speaker? While I am not Russian I am fluent in the language and I know the realities, so here is an explanation.

"Combine" ("комбайн") in Russian means a combine (harvester), surprisingly enough. Kombinat ("комбинат") was never a generic term for a state-run enterprise, but simply a common term for a type of factory or plant (emphatically not company or enterprise as we use the terms in the West), specifically one with a multi-stage production process where the output of one stage was used as raw material for another. E.g., food processing plants were commonly called that. Another, less common use, was actually in the names of companies producing or providing a set of related goods or services. In either case the notion of "combination" was the key. It never meant "pooling (combining) resources within a legal framework" as we might mean it (and as you might have, not unreasonably, but still incorrectly, assumed on a purely etymological basis).

Even in the state-run economy there were (and still are) also terms "предприятие" (a literal translation of "enterprise") and "объединение" ("association").

And yes, the word "company" ("компания") is widely used in Russian in exactly the familiar sense of legal association for a particular (business) objective. It wasn't in common use in the state-run economy of the USSR of old for obvious reasons, but it was always used to refer to Western companies. The moment private enterprise was officially allowed 30-something years ago "компании с ограниченной ответственностью" (literally, "companies with limited responsibility" - rings a bell?) became common, and so did "акционерные общества" (joint-stock enterprises - literally, "societies", a term in common use also, say, in French or Italian). And while state-run or state-owned companies exist and are often very big and widely known private companies in Russia are both common and not all that different in nature or structure from ours. The legal regime and the economic environment in which they are operating is very different, of course, but that's a different topic (also relevant to companies such as Tencent or Alibaba, to stay on topic, and to quite agree with you in spirit).

I don't know Chinese, unfortunately - if there is anything interesting to learn someone else will have to pitch in.

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