Category: chinese culture

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Sinology Sunday: How do Chinese names work?


While Wang Kai’s leading role in the Held in the Lonely Castle is most well-known as Song Renzong in Chinese,  his last name is Zhao and first name is Zhen.  Instead, Song Renzong is his temple name that translates into Emperor Renzong of Song.

Even for fluent speakers, watching an ancient drama can often be confusing because of how many names everyone has.   Here’s a mini-guide to the different…

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hi i (a european) am creating a chinese character for a fantasy story. her design is heavily based on tang dynasty fashion and shes water themed. i was wondering if jiang shui (江 水) would be an appropriate/believable name or if i went too far with the theme? i hope you dont mind this question and thank you in advance

Hi, thanks for the question! (image via)


To be honest, I know very little about the intricacies of Chinese names and how to choose them ^^;; I recommend checking out the following resources for more detailed information/advice: 1) Tips for Choosing a Chinese Name for your OC when you don’t know Chinese, 2) So You Want to Name a Sino, 3) How do Chinese Names Work?

Now regarding the name “Jiang Shui/江水” (river water) in particular, here are my thoughts (in consultation with someone with much superior Chinese skills):

Pros: “Jiang/江” (river) as a surname is theme-appropriate. It’s also an unusual surname, which is good when you want to make your character memorable.

Cons: It’s a bit too literal, hence not as believable.

Suggestion: Keep the surname “Jiang”, but instead of “Shui/水” (water) for the given name, use “Lan/澜” (ripples). “Lan” comes from “Bo Lan/波澜”, which is an artsy way of saying “ripple”. Thus, “Jiang Lan/江澜” is an artsy term for “ripple in river”. Phonetically, it also rolls off the tongue better.

Hope this helps!

CDC Slammed Over “Swooping Bats” Instagram Post:

The United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has drawn controversy after unveiling its new Emerging and Infectious Diseases monthly journal cover on Instagram.

The image — since deleted off their account but still available on their website — was an 18th century Qing military rank badge.