Please help me with Chinese names

Jerry Forsyth

Moderator
Moderator
Folks, I have been told so many different 'rules' for how you write Chinese names that I am now quite confused. (not rare, I get confused a lot. And discombobulated as well.)

Chinese names are something I really want to understand. Let me give you a few examples:

Ten years ago we were told to write this fellows name as: Hai Tao Liu. The it became Liu Hai Tao. Now on the Chinese 8-Ball stream it is spelled Liu Haitao.

Same with the girls. Years ago it was Chen Si Ming. Then we were told it should be Si Ming Chen. Now I am seeing Siming Chen.

At one time I was told that in China the family name would be put first but that in the west we would put the family name last. But AZB gets read by folks from China and all over the world. So does anyone actually know the rule for Chinese names in international publications? I actually got two different answers when I googled this.
 

poolnoob

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Simply put . Chinese names put family name first, in your example, Chen and Liu are the person's family name. So calling then Chen SiMing and Liu HaiTao would be proper.
 

ctyhntr

RIP Kelly
Silver Member
In East Asian culture (China, Korea, Japan) the family name goes first, then the first or given name.

Chen is the last name and SiMing is the first name.

Using the Ko brothers as an example.
Ko Ping Yi
Ko Ping Chun

Ko is the family name, while Ping Yi and Ping Chun is the first name. For nickname, you can call Ko Ping Yi, Ah-Yi, and Ko Ping Chun Ah-Chun. Like Bob is a nickname for Robert.


If you want to know why the brothers have the Ping prefix, that's another story, which will tell you what village, clan they're from.

Also, the same Chinese character is pronounced differently in Chinese, Korean, Viet and Japanese, and written accordingly.
林 = literally means forest is Lam (canto), Lin, Lum, Lim (Korean), Hayashi (Japanese).
Can you add aliases to the players directory to accommodate/cross reference the different ways names are spelled?
 
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Swighey

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Given names can be two words but when rendered into English can be put together to make one word (as names in English are one word) or can be left as two. It's a question of style. Or something completely unlike that. FAMILY given (given) is generally the most respectful way to go, hyphenated or otherwise, -although they don't really mind as much as we do.
 

boogeyman

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Folks, I have been told so many different 'rules' for how you write Chinese names that I am now quite confused. (not rare, I get confused a lot. And discombobulated as well.)

Chinese names are something I really want to understand. Let me give you a few examples:

Ten years ago we were told to write this fellows name as: Hai Tao Liu. The it became Liu Hai Tao. Now on the Chinese 8-Ball stream it is spelled Liu Haitao.

Same with the girls. Years ago it was Chen Si Ming. Then we were told it should be Si Ming Chen. Now I am seeing Siming Chen.

At one time I was told that in China the family name would be put first but that in the west we would put the family name last. But AZB gets read by folks from China and all over the world. So does anyone actually know the rule for Chinese names in international publications? I actually got two different answers when I googled this.


I studied Mandarin Chinese for five years in university -- reading,writing, and speaking.
I've traveled a few times to mainland China as well.
So I know a thing or two about the language.

The answers above are good ones. Let me take a few things further:

Chen and Lui (as in your OP) are very common Chinese surnames.
By convention, the surnames are always written first, and then the given names, Si Ming and Hai Tao, respectively.
The reason for writing surnames FIRST is that their culture expresses "bigger" things before "smaller" things-- the family unit is bigger and more important than the individual.
This concept is heavily ingrained in Chinese culture.

In contrast, here in the U.S. we emphasize the individual, hence first names are express before the last names.

When a Chinese has introduced themselves to me while I was in China, they would simply state their surname.
While at U.S. university, a Chinese would introduce themselves to me as "Benny," "Jim," "Larry" etc.
My impression is that they "change" their names because Westerners on the whole can't pronounce Chinese names, so Western names are co-opted.

So, remember, when you see Chinese names, the surname is written first-and it's one character. The given name is the "rest" of the name (either one character or two).

So, you might wonder, "Hey, how do they come up with Chinese names for Westerners?"
Well, the Chinese simply take the sound of the Western name and use Characters that have a similar sound.

As far as writing and reading (and speaking) Chinese, well, remember what Steve Mizerack once said, "practice, practice, practice." :thumbup:
 
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Cornerman

Cue Author...Sometimes
Gold Member
Silver Member
Folks, I have been told so many different 'rules' for how you write Chinese names that I am now quite confused. (not rare, I get confused a lot. And discombobulated as well.)

Chinese names are something I really want to understand. Let me give you a few examples:

Ten years ago we were told to write this fellows name as: Hai Tao Liu. The it became Liu Hai Tao. Now on the Chinese 8-Ball stream it is spelled Liu Haitao.

Same with the girls. Years ago it was Chen Si Ming. Then we were told it should be Si Ming Chen. Now I am seeing Siming Chen.

At one time I was told that in China the family name would be put first but that in the west we would put the family name last. But AZB gets read by folks from China and all over the world. So does anyone actually know the rule for Chinese names in international publications? I actually got two different answers when I googled this.

From a linguistic and phonetic point of view, I'll say that the international standard is in cyclic flux. When Chinese names were Romanized by the Western world, we got names that didn't match up with the actual Chinese.. by a long shot.

For example, the name Confucious is clearly not Chinese. Romanization dropped letters and combined syllables into one. So as time went on, and a little more sense was added, the West (and East) the majority of time stuck to the "one syllable per name." But, still, since it's a phonetic representation of Chinese characters, without tonal elements, the Romanization of Chinese names will never be perfect, and therefore you're going to see differences depending on the subtle differences the words actually pronounced an how the first person heard and wrote down the name. (Wong, Hwang ,Huang phonetically are nearly identical to Western ears, so you get these different spellings on what may or may not be the same character or the same spelling).

Lately, we see as you noted the combining of two names (two syllables, two characters) into one word. This might be the current evolution of the cycle of Romanizing Chinese names, and it may be that two characters is really one "word."

So, Jerry, nothing you're doing is wrong. The "standard" is ever evolving.

Maybe in a hundred years, the Chinese will start putting their surname last; maybe instead, Westerners will put their surnames first. Maybe we'll go back to combining all the syllables into one Romanized word. Whatever the owner of the name wants to do, that'd be correct.


Freddie <~~~ linguistically speaking
 
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Cornerman

Cue Author...Sometimes
Gold Member
Silver Member
When a Chinese has introduced themselves to me while I was in China, they would simply state their surname.
While at U.S. university, a Chinese would introduce themselves to me as "Benny," "Jim," "Larry" etc.
My impression is that they "change" their names because Westerners on the whole can't pronounce Chinese names, so Western names are co-opted.
:

I have a few thousand Chinese colleagues (okay, I have drank with only about a hundred of them, but who's counting?) and most have adopted a Western familiar first name. Many of them use conventional Western names "Joe, Jenny, Danny, etc.) but many of them also use non-conventional Western names (White, Black, Echo, Cloud, Jazz...).
 

Sealegs50

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Hopefully, this is further clarification. I support previous comments. My wife is Chinese, so I also have some experience.

There can be more reason than just style for combining the romanized equivalents of a two character Chinese given name. These are not first and middle names. In the US, middle names are often dropped or represented by an initial. The best way for Chinese people to be identified in the US by their actual given name is to combine the two names into one. For example, my wife (now a US citizen) needed to combine her given name to have it represented on her driver’s license.

Not wanting to add confusion, it may be worth noting that the same Chinese character can be romanized into different English equivalents. Kuo and Guo can represent the same surname. I have seen the same person use different spellings on different occasions.

My Chinese friends are doing their best to adapt their names into our system.
 

Cornerman

Cue Author...Sometimes
Gold Member
Silver Member
Hopefully, this is further clarification. I support previous comments. My wife is Chinese, so I also have some experience.

There can be more reason than just style for combining the romanized equivalents of a two character Chinese given name. These are not first and middle names. In the US, middle names are often dropped or represented by an initial. The best way for Chinese people to be identified in the US by their actual given name is to combine the two names into one. For example, my wife (now a US citizen) needed to combine her given name to have it represented on her driver’s license.

Not wanting to add confusion, it may be worth noting that the same Chinese character can be romanized into different English equivalents. Kuo and Guo can represent the same surname. I have seen the same person use different spellings on different occasions.

My Chinese friends are doing their best to adapt their names into our system.
Great information!

For me, my limited information comes from my partial study of language evolution /linguistics in college (my non-engineering courses were focused on language & art migration) and my global business relations.
 

BRussell

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I taught at a university in China for a short time, and what amazed me is that they don't only need to translate Chinese to and from English, to be functional they need to be able to translate Chinese to/from pinyin and pinyin to/from English as well (for example, in order to use computers and phones). My understanding is that they teach pinyin in China along with Chinese at an early age. It really is a whole different - and artificial - language, neither Chinese nor English.

So don't feel bad Jerry for not getting how to write the names - remember, you're trying to write it in a non-existent language!
 
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Eric.

Club a member
Silver Member
Folks, I have been told so many different 'rules' for how you write Chinese names that I am now quite confused. (not rare, I get confused a lot. And discombobulated as well.)

Chinese names are something I really want to understand. Let me give you a few examples:

Ten years ago we were told to write this fellows name as: Hai Tao Liu. The it became Liu Hai Tao. Now on the Chinese 8-Ball stream it is spelled Liu Haitao.

Same with the girls. Years ago it was Chen Si Ming. Then we were told it should be Si Ming Chen. Now I am seeing Siming Chen.

At one time I was told that in China the family name would be put first but that in the west we would put the family name last. But AZB gets read by folks from China and all over the world. So does anyone actually know the rule for Chinese names in international publications? I actually got two different answers when I googled this.

Jerry,

The traditional Chinese way would be "Family Name" then "Middle Name", then "First Name". This is with no hyphens and a space/separation between the middle and first names. That is how it is written in Chinese. The Last Name is always 1st, then the Middle Name, then First Name.

The confusion comes in when you try to translate it into a Western name format i.e. First Name (1st), then Last Name.

In recent times, when trying to translate Chinese names into an English format, it has gotten sideways i.e. joining the middle and first names and the use of hyphens.

If you want to be the "most correct", stick to "Last Name_Middle Name_First Name", with no hyphens.


Eric >didn't read trhe other responses yet
 
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Eric.

Club a member
Silver Member
Additionally, siblings often share the same middle name, so it is significant, as far as proper names go. It's almost like this:

Bobby Jo Smith
Jimmy Jo Smith
Ronnie Jo Smith
(all brothers)


Eric >bro
 

HomeBrewer

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
From a linguistic and phonetic point of view, I'll say that the international standard is in cyclic flux. When Chinese names were Romanized by the Western world, we got names that didn't match up with the actual Chinese.. by a long shot.

For example, the name Confucious is clearly not Chinese. Romanization dropped letters and combined syllables into one. So as time went on, and a little more sense was added, the West (and East) the majority of time stuck to the "one syllable per name." But, still, since it's a phonetic representation of Chinese characters, without tonal elements, the Romanization of Chinese names will never be perfect, and therefore you're going to see differences depending on the subtle differences the words actually pronounced an how the first person heard and wrote down the name. (Wong, Hwang ,Huang phonetically are nearly identical to Western ears, so you get these different spellings on what may or may not be the same character or the same spelling).


This is dead on. The fact that over the years there have been multiple systems used to romanize the Chinese language in writing is why today we might write 'Qingdao' in PinYin, but the beer is written 'Tsingtao', since long ago there was another method of romanizing in use at that time that represented the beer (and the Chinese geography it comes from) with that different spelling.
 

Sealegs50

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Additionally, siblings often share the same middle name, so it is significant, as far as proper names go. It's almost like this:

Bobby Jo Smith
Jimmy Jo Smith
Ronnie Jo Smith
(all brothers)


Eric >bro

In my wife's family, the three sons share the same second character for their given names, as you describe above. But the three daughters share the same first character and have unique second characters, as in the example, Anna Lee, Anna Maria, Anna Cristina.
 

J0HN0

Registered
Hello Jerry.

If it's any consolation you spelled my Chinese fiancee's name perfectly when you autographed her program at the Mosconi Cup last Dec', thank you, she loved it.

From memory if it's in letters you can read (not Characters) then it's written in pinyin, which most people in China below the age of about 35 will know as they learn prior to learning the characters as it's easier (someone may know the dates better I'm sure).

From memory,
ui is pronounced eigh,
zh is pronounced j,
ong is ung,
eng is ung
Feng shui is pretty much Fung shweigh
Shanghai and Beijing are actually pinyin but pure coincidence that they sound pretty much how they look in English.

And as above, in Asia it is usually family name 1st then given name 2nd, but as above most seem to get less stressed about it than us, but I can respect the desire to get it right!!

best regards,
 

klone

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
There's also a difference in writing conventions between Chinese and Taiwanese player names.

From China the names are usually written with the surname followed by the rest, e.g. Chen Siming. And if the "first name" consists of more than one character, they are strung together ("Siming").

The Taiwanese typically follow western rules of first name followed by surname, so Pin-Yo Ko. And notice that the Taiwanese usually will use the hyphen to connect the first name's characters.

To complicate thing further, Taiwan doesn't use the pinyin romanization system. For example, you may encounter the surname Cheng from China, and Tseng from Taiwan; or but they are the same.

Another example: Taiwan's top female pro, Chieh-Yu (Rita) Chou, will have her name shown as Zhou Jieyu in pinyin.
 
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