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Is there any official way to translate Chinese names into English?

Chinese is of course: surname + name, usually when translated into English why is the same formatting kept?

毛泽东 is usually written Mao Zedong

But is this not more like not translating?

Take Japanese name translation for instance a name like 黒澤明 (Chinese: 黑泽明/黑澤明) Wikipedia translates his name (English-style) as Akira Kurosawa (first name + last name) but the original japaneae is last name (黒澤) + name (明). I know a lot of other translates still translate Japnese style (surname+name) in English too, especially dictionaries and the like but it seems English-style translations of Japebese names is more prevalent.

I seldom see English-style translations of Chinese names - but why?

Wouldn't English-style translations of Chinese names be more natural to read in English, especially for those with no background in Sinetic languages?

Is there an official way to translate names, i.e.: order?

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Commenting since this isn't really an answer per se. It really depends. While names like Wen Jiabao are commonly kept in "Eastern" naming order, names used among personal interactions with "small fry" are sometimes used in the Western order, particularly in a Western context - for instance, in an international school in Asia, 张小明 would probably be referred to (in English, I mean) as Xiaoming Zhang. But in other places (e.g. the BBC, official usage by places that already use Chinese (e.g. Hong Kong, China)) the Eastern order seems to be kept. –  Maroon Jun 9 at 8:53
    
@Maroon what about like novels and stuff? I read a translated novel where it was still very chinglish Zhang Xiaoming-type-ish stuff...makes it very unnatural for an English read –  user3306356 Jun 9 at 14:48
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Names are names. It's not like you'd be translating 毛泽东 into Hair Favor East; how is keeping the order "not translating"? The only important bit is that people understand who you are referring to. Mucking around with the order is quite unnecessary. When it comes to historical characters, Japanese names are usually translated as surname first too. 源義経 is virtually always rendered as Minamoto no Yoshitsune, for example. –  Semaphore Jun 10 at 16:50
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4 Answers 4

Since my comments were getting long, I will reproduce them here. This probably isn't a complete answer though.

It really depends. While names like Wen Jiabao are commonly kept in "Eastern" naming order, names used among personal interactions with "small fry" are sometimes used in the Western order, particularly in a Western context - for instance, in an international school in Asia, 张小明 would probably be referred to (in English, I mean) as Xiaoming Zhang (and probably without the tones and possibly incorrect pronunciation, if it's spoken, depending on the speaker).

But in other places (e.g. the BBC, Le Monde, official usage by places that already use Chinese (e.g. Hong Kong, China)) the Eastern order seems to be kept.

I'm not very familiar with translated novels and the such, but here's what I know:

  • Names translated from "Western" order are generally transliterated and kept in Western order.

  • With names translated from Chinese (or written in English but about China/Chinese), from the examples I looked at so far, Chinese naming order is kept. (I looked at: Red Scarf Girl; Lust, Caution; The Good Earth; and The Fat Years.) So at the very least, keeping Chinese names in Chinese order doesn't seem to be uncommon. (Does this feel as unnatural? It really depends. To me, even as a native English speaker, it feels more awkward to have the name order Westernised.)

  • Strangely enough, Westernisation of the order of Japanese names is a lot more common. For instance, even the BBC refers to 安倍晋三 as Shinzō Abe and not as Abe Shinzō, and (at the very least) a number of anime subtitles (for anime set in Japan) also seem to Westernise the name order. Meanwhile, Korean names seem to be more likely to be treated like Chinese names in terms of whether or not the name is Westernised.

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Although this answer may be voted down, I have to say it depends on what system you use.

In regions using Chinese, people usually use surname-name style because of tradition.

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ps It really depends on what system you use. Sometimes, people use uppercase letters to write surnames. –  Kiddy Jun 9 at 4:50
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I think all translations are based on the pronunciations, both Chinese and Japanese. There are some letters such as "x", "q" or "zh" in Chinese that western people cannot pronounce which makes you think that it is pretty awkward. I understand that. I have same problem with people from European or Latino American. However, Japanese is really not a good example here. Take your example for instance, 黒澤明 in Japan is not pronounced as hei ze ming, but as Akira Kurosawa. 黒澤明 is just the Chinese characters of his name. It is still basically pronunciation translation. More interestingly, it is not really pronounced as what you thought in English way.

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This doesn't really answer the OP's question - the OP is more interested in whether or not the "translated" name is in the Western naming order or not. –  Maroon Jun 10 at 19:04
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This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. –  user3306356 Jun 11 at 5:12
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noname, please fix your answer in order to address the question properly, thanks. :) –  Alenanno Jun 15 at 9:33
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In Japan, there is very little situation when people use their full name together. If two are not quite close, they tend to just use the family name. When two are very close, they tend to use the first name. So the order doesn't matter and so they translate the name to a Western way.

But in China, in most situation, people use their family name and first name together. So they translation followed the way it original be

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