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Common Chinese Names Translation in English

One of the biggest pitfalls of Chinese to English translation is the rendering of a Chinese person's name into English. It goes without saying that the first step, if possible, is to ask the client or the person whose name is being translated directly. Here are some examples for translating a Chinese person’s name into English:

1. 海明威,English is: Hai ming wei

The first character, pronounce Hai in Chinese, similar to the pronunciation of the first syllable He in his English name. The second word is approximately pronounced ming, and the third one is corresponding to way. These three Chinese characters come separately from three syllables He, ming, way of his English name. It is a general way to translate English names into Chinese names.

2. 毛泽东, English: Mao ze dong

These three Chinese characters is the name of Mao Zedong, the first President of China. The first character, Mao, is a family name, the last two words are a given name. It is contrary of English names which normally the surname is a family name, and the first name is a real name. Here the given name means the name given by parents or grandparents, also different from the meaning of a given name. The English words Mao Zedong is Chinese name in English. In fact, they are letters in Chinese Pinyin, a phonetic system for Chinese characters. Chinese Pinyin is the standard of translation of Chinese names into English.

For someone from mainland China, we spell their names in pinyin in the order of Family name. For example, 邓小平should be written as Deng Xiaoping. 胡锦涛is Hu Jintao. Thus, 习近平is spelled Xi Jinping. One exception to this rule is when the person is historically well-known for its alternative spelling in Wade-Giles. For example, 蔣介石 is often called Chiang Kai-shek and not Jiang Jieshi.

In the past, there are some Chinese names which are translated into English according to the Guangdong (a province of China) or Hong Kong dialect. Now, All names translation have to follow these standards:

1. Chinese Pinyin is the only right form of Chinese names in English,
2. The family name is on the first,
3. The given name is on the second,
4. A space is put between family name and given name,
5. The first letter of names is capitalized.