Hi! I’m an ABC(ish) writer/illustrator who’s currently relearning Chinese/exploring my family’s heritage. I’m currently sharing what I’m learning through my[instagram webcomic](https://www.instagram.com/pandacubstories/). This one is about how (I’ve observed) foreign names are translated in Chinese:)
There are three ways (in my experience) that foreign names are translated into Mandarin Chinese:
1️⃣ Translation by SOUND
2️⃣ Translation by MEANING
3️⃣ Translation by MIX n’ MATCH
The examples are in the comic itself — but here’s a text version for folks who prefer just to read:
For this method, break the foreign name down into single syllables: [Pi] [Ka] [Chu]. Then, pick the Chinese characters that approximate these sounds:
Example: #Grimer and #Muk
For this method, take a good gander at what you want to translate: Grimer and Mukj… both look like mucky sludge, right? So… what characters would describe this appearance? Hence:
Grimer = stinky-mud (臭泥 chòu ní)
Muk = “stinky-stinky-mud” (臭臭泥)
MIX n’ MATCH TRANSLATION
Finally, you can use a mashup of the previous two methods. So for Starbucks, we have #halfmeaningtranslation :
Star = ⭐️ = 星 (Xīng)
Bucks = bā kè (巴克)
Alrighty, that’s are post for today (this one took me significantly longer than I thought it would … but I had a ton of fun drawing pokemon 😅).
If there are other methods of translating names I’ve completely blanked on — pls let me know!
Until the next post,
再见! Zài jiàn!
P.S. #coffeeboba photo courtesy of u/nextshark