Chinese Language Learning – Foreign Names (in Mandarin Chinese) | Webcomic

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]( 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: ⁣



Example: Pikachu⁣

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)⁣



Example: #Starbucks⁣

Finally, you can use a mashup of the previous two methods. So for Starbucks, we have #halfmeaningtranslation : ⁣

Star = ⭐️ = 星 (Xīng)⁣

And #halfsoundtranslation⁣

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!⁣


– Linda

P.S. #coffeeboba photo courtesy of u/nextshark ⁣

View Reddit by Linda-YView Source

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