The Foreign Feel of a 中文 Transliteration

外来词,例如“Minnesota” or “Kobe Bryant” or “Carrefour” often get “translated” 在 to 中文 在 a way that uses the original sounds of the words 和 tries to represent those 在 中文 (thus, using 中文 characters). This process is called 音译,或者有时是转录(音译,将每个字符分解为“sound 翻译” 在 中文). Thus, the three examples above become “Mingnisuda” (明尼苏达), “Kebi Bulai’ente” (科比·布莱恩特),以及“Jialefu” (家乐福) 在 中文.


These 国外 names can be quite a pain for learners to remember, because the pronunciation is “off,” 和 they’通常是很长的时间,再加上最糟糕的部分:您必须记住所有 音调 对于那些“nonsense characters!”

但是他们真的 废话 characters? That depends. A carefully transliterated name will make some sort of sense 在 中文. This is almost always done with company 和 brand names, 和 is the case with 家乐福 (家乐福) 以上;选择的三个字符表示“home,” “joy,” 和 “happiness,” respectively. For place names, though, the characters are a bit less lovingly selected. So 明尼苏达州 (明尼苏达) 得到了:“bright,” “Buddhist nun,” “Suzhou,” “arrive.”相当随机。一样“Kobe Bryant” (科比·布莱恩特) 在 中文.

So a typical learner of 中文 wants to know: 什么’s my name 在 中文? 然后’s where the tumble down the 国外 name 音译 rabbit hole begins. You see, most English names already have 标准 翻译s 在 中文. So “John” is 约翰, “Mary” is 玛丽, “Richard” is 理查德, etc. Clearly, these are all 音译s; the sounds are approximated 在 中文, but not the meanings.

从我第一次听到的那一刻起“约翰” (“John” 在 中文), I hated it. It didn’t sound like “John” at all! There wasn’t even a “zh” or a “j”全名听起来。 (听起来确实与“Johann,”虽然;我想我有早期的欧洲传教士要感谢“standard”我的名字的音译。)

检查了角色之后,我做了两件事’t like about 约翰:

1.约翰没有’t很有道理(好的,他们从“Gospel of 约翰”传教士的观点)
2. “Yuēhàn” just sounded weird to me, 和 unlike most 中文名s

These two features define most 国外 names transliterated 在 to 中文. In fact, oftentimes the characters really are nonsensical; they’从音译中使用的固定字符列表中系统地重新选择。此列表甚至有其自己的Wikipedia页面: Transcription 在 to 中文 characters.

查看列表,我可以’帮忙,但觉得某些特定字符更有用“foreign” (used especially often 在 国外ers’ names, 和 not so often 在 中文名s), while others are more “Chinese” (equally likely to appear 在 中文名s). For example, are both common 在 中文名s. … not quite so much.

因此,随着时间的流逝,您听到的这些组合越来越多“音译字符” (杰克, 汉克, 路易等),您会开始感觉到何时“Chinese name”听起来很陌生,尤其是与越来越多的真实中国人相比’s names you’re compiling 在 your memory. In fact, a computer program could actually run through big long lists of transliterated 国外 names 和 original 中文名s, 和 通过 comparing the character distributions 在 the two lists, assign “Chineseness” 和 “foreignness”每个字符的值,可以相当准确地预测“Chinese”名字听起来最外国。通过注意单词中字符的位置以及某些重复的字符序列(例如斯坦),可以提高准确性。

But this is 什么 your brain does unconsciously as you learn more 和 more names. This is how we develop a sense for when a 中文名 feels 国外.

对我个人而言,所有这些具有讽刺意味的是,在拒绝之后 约翰 as my 中文名, I later settled on 潘吉。这些字符都在转录表! (啊,但是 潘吉 is actually much more 中文, even if a bit boring. So 潘吉 is my official 中文名, although these days I usually just go 通过 约翰.)

玫瑰's Revelation


约翰 帕斯登

约翰 is a Shanghai-based linguist 和 entrepreneur, founder of 全集学习.


  1. Do you know if there exist 转录表s for other 语言s to 中文? Just for fun I sometimes chat with my 中文 girlfriend (whose Swedish is much better than my 中文) on wechat 在 Swedish transcribed with 汉字。It is quite challenging (but fun!) to approximate all the sounds.

  2. 我总是觉得很奇怪/令人不安… KFC doesn’包含字符鸡。那里’s a joke 在 there somewhere, but most likely this is because KFC 在 China wanted to expand beyond chicken. From 什么 locals have told me, 中文 rarely go for the 标准 ‘American food’在肯德基或麦当劳。

  3. Graham Bond 说: 2013年7月3日,上午12:27

    Can I be the first to issue congratulations on a most excellent piece of visual drollery. The 中文 语言 corner of the comedy market is niche-to-non-existent but, 约翰, your Titanic imagination may have just cracked it. Nice work.

  4. Kevin 凯文 说: 2013年7月3日,上午2:42

    Did you ever come across 乔恩 as a 音译 for 约翰? That was the first one I learned, 和 I was surprised to see 约翰 as well.



  5. How did you go about getting a 中文名, 约翰? Did you make it yourself or did a friend/teacher give it to you?

    • 嗯,那个’很长的故事。一世’我一直想把它写出来。


      • 有时听到完整的故事会很有趣。一世’ve always thought it was odd that so many 中文 和 Koreans feel compelled to get English names, so it’总是很高兴听到不同的观点,并了解外国人在学习语言时如何以及为什么使用不同的名字。

        I’ve had friends give me 中文 和 Korean names which I used for a while, but I have a stronger attachment to my real name, so they’ve已停用。

  6. I always suspected the common 音译字符 were deliberately chosen to be meaningless so there wouldn’t be unintentional meaning or embarrassment.

  7. 对于那些有朋友并且愿意在海峡两岸写作的人来说,学习音译是一项具有挑战性的事情,就是“standard”音译通常会有所不同,例如,澳大利亚的悉尼在大陆被称为悉尼,在台湾被称为雪梨。当将香港和广东话的音译结合在一起时,这可能会增加另一个难度。

  8. 我第一次记得想到这些东西是在2008年奥运会期间,当时我的朋友们(谁是好人)会嘲笑播音员说的话‘迈克尔-菲尔普斯’ … eh.. Once I started reading NBA Gamecaps 在 中文…我会在任何地方看到这些(显然)。那里’s really no way around it, right? For example, if two 中文 people were talking about a famous 国外er (eg. Brad Pitt), there’s no way they’re going to ‘put on’ an American accent for a few seconds, then go back to 中文.

    So which is more 自然? Transliteration or not?

    • 对我来说最“natural”做到这一点的方法只是用您自己的语言近似外来发音,就像美国人在用西班牙语发音名字时一样。 (如果您坚持发音为西班牙语,它可能会自命不凡。“the Spanish way”并带有适当的口音。)

      One might argue that this is 什么 中文 people are doing when using 音译s for 国外 names, but I don’t think so. I think most modern 中文 people are capable of much closer approximations of 国外 names than the phonology of Mandarin 中文 allows them to write out 在 characters.

  9. […] It seems to me that the 中文 aren’也不要为这些音译而疯狂。如果可以,他们’ll do things like use the 中文 word 苹果 (“apple”)(针对美国公司)“Apple”而不是借助音译。但是对于外国人’ names, 国外 country names, 国外 company names, 国外 brand names, 和 国外 product names, you do get stuck with an awful lot of 音译s 在 to 中文. […]

  10. When I got my 中文名, I was given three routes.

    1) The transliterated 中文 sounding name like you mentioned 馬太

    2) The original meaning of my name from the root 语言 source which was then directly 已翻译 在 to its 自然 中文 equivalent (Matthew means Gift 在 Hebrew so 礼物.)

    3) A 中文名 that reflected who I was (my personality, etc.) 和 sounded 自然ly 中文. This name was chosen 通过 my 中文 friends 和 中文 business colleagues.


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