How to pronounce Chinese names

As a nice complement to my French pronunciation class, today I stumbled across this guide to pronouncing (romanized) Chinese names (thanks, Jerry!). Far from being merely a piece of curious trivia, I found this page to be both fascinating and useful, as many of the papers I read and reference are authored by researchers with Chinese names. Owning a somewhat unusual name myself, it’s always been important to me to learn how others prefer their name to be pronounced.

I was already familiar with the pronunciation of “q” as “ch” (from the character Qiwi Lisolet in A Deepness in the Sky) and “x” as “sh” (from a colleague named Xiaoli). The surprises for me were that “c” is pronounced “ts”, “z” is “ds”, and “zh” is “dr” (!?). There are some other important subtleties, but I think for now if I work on getting those right, then I’ll be on the right track!

In the meantime, you can practice your pronunciation by getting your own Chinese name. Just call me Wang Kang Rui (surname first):

Update: Jerry (a native Chinese speaker) has pointed out that Wang Kang Rui sounds rather masculine, and recommends instead Wan Qi Li, which transliterates to “ten-thousand elegant beauty”. Niiiice!

2 of 2 people learned something from this entry.

  1. Scott said,

    May 6, 2010 at 9:37 am

    (Learned something new!)


    It’s nice to meet you Wang Kang rui, I’m Feng Shu kuan.

  2. Katie said,

    May 6, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    (Learned something new!)

    Thanks for that, Wang Kang rui! Sun Ke tian, at your service (or at least at MY service…he he he). Enjoyed a new look at my name!

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