FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions about names translation

Firstnames and Names Translation into Chinese

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions about names translation

The most frequently asked questions about translations of names, words and phrases.

May I use the Chinese symbols vertically?

You can use them horizontally or vertically. The symbols order and signification remain the same both ways. For calligraphy, tattoos and art works the vertical presentation is often used.

Is there a Chinese alphabet?

 There is no Chinese alphabet in the sense we understand it in the Westerner languages. In the Westerner culture the word alphabet comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet: alpha and beta. Each of the letters of our alphabet represents a sound that generally has no particular meaning. Chinese characters are not letters. Although there are a lot of exceptions, Chinese characters represent a concept, an idea or an object. The syllable is what gets closer to our conception of the alphabet we use for spelling words in the Westerner languages.

Do you translate initials?

Because there is no Chinese alphabet, initials cannot be translated into Chinese symbols.

Are there any caps in Chinese?

No, there is no caps for the names, nor for any word

How do you translate given names and full names in Chinese?

The method I use for the transliteration of names in Chinese is based on phonetic. I have been initiated to this method during a stay in China as a guest professor. It is the same method used by the big Chinese news agencies to translate western names to be published in newspapers and magazines and electronic media. This method can be used to transliterate phonetically into Chinese symbols the names from 45 foreign languages. So almost any name can be transliterate into Chinese characters.

I have different versions of the same name, which one is the good one?

If your translator does not use a method, he reproduces your name phonetically as it sounds for him. The result is different if your translator is a native Chinese from mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong or if he is born or leaves in a western country. Each version is not absolutely bad, but it is not a standard one as mandarin Chinese, the official language in China, is concerned.

What does my name mean in Chinese?

As we already mentioned, the method used for representing western names in Chinese characters is transliteration. So, in representing foreign names, characters are used for their sound value only, not their usual meaning. In this case the meaning of the name remains the same as in the original language. However, if you order a Chinese equivalent of a western name, the meaning of this new Chinese name is included.

What is the difference between kanji and Chinese symbols?

Kanji is the term for Chinese symbols that are used in the Japanese language. Kanji in Japanese are typically characters from the Chinese language that have been adapted to mean Japanese words. The meaning in Chinese and Japanese can be the same but pronounced differently, or they may have entirely different meanings.