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Chinese Name Translation

4 steps to translate a name into Chinese characters

1. Break English Name Into Syllables

Generally, translation English names into Chinese is done mainly based on both pronunciations, that is to say, the pronunciation of the Chinese name translated generally matches that of the English name.

Notes that 'English name' does not just mean the name for persons from English countries, it also indicates any name written in Latin for persons from countries except China, Japan, Korea, North Korea, Viet Nam. In fact, we have translated and collected names in more than 50 languages from over 100 countries.

First of all, let's listen and compare five names in 5 languages.

Amerine, a name in English, is transliterated into Chinese 阿梅林 by syllables A-me-rien

Française, in French, 法兰西斯 by syllables F-ran-çai-se

Gemähling, in German, 格梅林 by syllables Ge-mäh-ling

Russiyanov, in Russian, 鲁西亚诺夫 by syllables Ru-ssiy-ya-no-v

Arabdiou, in Arabic, 阿拉伯迪乌 by syllables A-ra-b-di-ou

Do each pair of names pronounce similarly?

Normally, each Chinese character matches a syllable of an English name.

Let's take the first name Amerine for instance. It could be A-me-rine. 'A' matches the first Chinese character, and 'mei' the second one, 'rein' the third.

Matched pairs for each name are listed below. You could click the speaker icon to listen the pronunciation of each Chinese character and compare if it sounds similarly to that of the matching syllable.

Amerine, A - , me - , rien - .

Française, F - , ran - , çai - 西, se - .

Gemähling, Ge - , mäh - , ling - .

Russiyanov, Ru - , ssiy - 西, ya - , no - , v - .

Arabdiou, A - , ra - , b - , di - , ou - .

So, the first step to translate an English name into Chinese is breaking the name into syllables.

For example, when we translate the name 'Russiyanov', the first thing is breaking it into Ru-ssiy-ya-no-v at first.

And, check carefully each syllable if it is silent or should be modified according to the pronunciation rules of matched language.

For example, for a name in Arabic, there are two rules for the name translation:

  1. when h at the ending, drop it.
  2. when m before b or p, except at the beginning, change m to n.

And, rules for Spanish:

  1. when b is not the beginning or ending, except is preceded by m, n, change b to v.
  2. when v is at the beginning, change v to b.
  3. when x before a vowel, change x to ks; when x before a consonant, no change.
  4. when m before b or p, except at the beginning, change m to n.
  5. h is silent, drop it.

Following these rules, proper syllables are got for the name translation.

Then, Chinese character with the same or similar sound will be selected for each syllable.

2. Select Proper Chinese Characters

It is a key step to select a proper Chinese character for the name translation after syllables of a name are got in the first step.

Firstly, a Chinese character selected must match the pronunciation of the related syllable of the English name.

And, the Chinese character selected must have a positive meaning, or has no meaning.

As you know, Chinese character are the ideogram, so a pronunciation matches many Chinese characters. Exactly, There are about 90,000 totally and 3500 used commonly characters in Chinese, but only 1339 pronunciations according to Modern Chinese Dictionary, which means that there are more than one Chinese characters match the pronunciation of a syllable of an English name.

For example, there are 50 characters in Modern Chinese Dictionary matching the pronunciation of the last syllable of the name 'Française'. 13 collected in this site so far are: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

How to select a proper one from these Chinese characters?

A basic principle is that the character selected must not be bad, in other words, it is positive, approving, or neutral, or has no meaning at least.

For example, among these characters, the third one means 'selfish', the seventh 'death; dead; die', the ninth 'temple (building)', the eleventh 'a team of four horses', the twelfth 'sacrifice to sb.', the last one 'four (4); store or shop'. Even though they, except the seventh meaning 'death; dead; die', are used in the names for native Chinese, they are not proper characters for the name translation. Click on each word and learn its meaning(s).

Eliminated those words, four are retained.

Learn more Chinese characters used for Chinese names translation.

In practice, the frequency that these four characters are used in the name translation is different. According to statistics, they are - 98.9099%, - 0.8289%, - 0.2580%, - 0.0032%.

So the Chinese character is the first choice of a Chinese name translation.

Then, different characters are selected according to sex.

Another important factor is gender, that is to say, to select different characters for the females, which has no reference to sex discrimination. On the contrary, characters those mean beautiful, flower, graceful, etc, and are used most commonly in the Chinese girl's names are selected for them.

These are 12 samples of the characters used for the names of the females; they are , , , , , , , , , , , .

Let's compare two group of names.

Farida, name in Chinese is , and for the female specially.

Faustina, name in Chinese is 福斯蒂, and 福斯蒂 for the female specially.

Compare the names above. The different characters has been marked by bold font.

Let's see their difference.

The Chinese characters and have the same pronunciation; but the former means 'beautiful, or pretty' and is one of the most common words used for Chinese girl's names; and the later 'inner, in, inside, or among'.

Therefore, the is better for the female Farida's Chinese name.

Also the is selected for the female Faustina's; because it has no meaning and is most commonly used for Chinese girl's names.

At last, modify individual words based on homonym if necessary.

In spite of generations of professionals summarizes Chinese characters used in the name translation, when certain words together, they still remind of some bad meaning or things not good. The Chinese name translated in this step should be modified to avoid any suggestion of something not good.

That is what we have to do in the next step.

3. Modify individual word

It is not over to select proper Chinese characters for an English name translation, because some certain words together sometimes still remind of some bad meaning or things not good. Therefore we have to modify one or two words individually to avoid something not good.

Some examples are given as follow:

Fils

There are two choices for the Chinese name of a French name Fils, 菲思 or 费思.

Both Chinese names have the exact sounds. The difference between them is the first Chinese characters. The second one always reminds of a phrase 费解 (fei jie) meaning 'hard to understand; incomprehensible; unintelligible'; the meaning is not good for the Chinese name translation.

Lantigua

There are two probable Chinese names for a Spanish name Lantigua, 兰蒂瓜 or 兰提瓜.

The difference between them is the middle Chinese characters. The first name reminds of a meaning of 'a melon with a blue stalk'. So, it is not good as the second one.

Kaine

When I translated the Chinese names for an American politician Tim Kaine, I had two choices for Chinese names of Kaine, 卡恩 or 卡因.

The difference between them is only the last word. The last word in the second name pronounces similarly to a word (yin) which reminds easily of a Chinese phrase 阴部 (yin bu) meaning 'private parts; pudenda; genitals' when it is combined with the first word (ka or qia) of the Chinese name to form a meaning of 'to grasp tightly genitals' or 'genitals is stuck'.

So, the first Chinese name is better for Kaine.

Banafsheh

Banafsheh, a girl name from Arabic, could be transliterated into 3 Chinese names according to the Chinese names transliteration regulations, 巴纳夫夏, 巴纳夫什 and 巴纳夫谢.

Could you find the difference between them?

Yes, the difference is only the last words.

Why is the first one the best?

Let's check the second one firstly. The last word (Shi) pronounces similarly to a character (si) meaning 'death, or die'; and one of meanings of the third word (fu) is 'husband'; the last two words together reminds easily of 'a husband will die'. So it not good to be a girl's name.

How about the third one? Also, (xie). Even though more meanings, but '(of flowers or leaves) wither' is not good for a girl who always hope she is young and beautiful, like blooming flowers.

Contrary to those two characters, the first one (xia) means 'summer'. Everything is in a flourishing and prospering state in summer. Therefore, it is the best character for the name Banafsheh.

4. Get Full Name In Chinese Symbols

All we are talking about previously focused on a single English name.

How about a full name in Chinese symbols? Let's take Barack Obama for instance.

The Chinese names for Barack Obama is 巴拉克奥巴马; the first three are the name in Chinese symbols translated from Barack; the last three are from Obama. A dot '•', sometimes a dash '-', is put between two groups of Chinese names for Chinese people to distinguish first name and surname, because of a large difference between common Chinese names and English names. Click here for more information about common Chinese names.

When an specific English name is translated into Chinese name, we usually call him/her with his/her name in Chinese characters of first name or surname, rarely full name. For example, in Chinese media, we commonly use 奥巴马 and sometimes 巴拉克奥巴马.

When an English name has 3 or more words, we translate them sequentially. For example, Barack Hussein Obama, are in Chinese characters as 巴拉克侯赛因奥巴马. But this name is rarely seen in the Chinese media, because it is toooo long.

In this site, you could search your single name or full names. If you search a full name, all component or relevant names will be shown. You could use them to compose your Chinese names.

Sometimes, an English name matches several Chinese names due to sex, different countries or languages. A brief information about sex, countries of a name is given with the Chinese name when you search it, so please compare them and choose your personal name.

For example, a name 'Marry' matches two Chinese names, one is for persons from France, another one for Arab. Even though their pronunciation is very similarly, it is professional to get your Chinese name in this way, which means the name you get is professional and you never make any joke when you use your Chinese name.