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Just out of curiosity, if your name consisted of words which exist in an English dictionary, would you translate it as you would those words? Or would you translate it letter-by-letter?

For example, I used to work with someone called Lance Fox, would that be 矛狐狸? I know a Matt Brown, would that be 亚光褐色?

  • What do you mean by 'how would you translate a name'? Do you mean 'as an English speaker how would you give yourself a Chinese name' or 'what are the official rules of translating English names into Chinese'? For the former, it is arbitrary and opinion-based. For the latter, there are existing Q/A. – NS.X. May 24 '15 at 0:48
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The norm is to make it:

a) similar in sound b) follow Chinese naming conventions

and optionally also choose characters with a relevant or good meaning.

But just as authors can choose pen names such as 矛盾 and 莫言, a westerner can pick a name by your criteria. 矛狐狸 is rather elegant in this perspective, but would be considered a nickname, since 矛 is not a family name.

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The last name Fox is translated 福克斯 as in the Fox Channel.

Lance is 兰斯 (like 兰斯‧阿姆斯特朗, the athlete)。So most likely, your name is translated as 兰斯‧福克斯。That's what happens if a news reporter would translate the name.

When you are talking about choosing a Chinese name based on your original name, you can go by your taste or preference. To make it sound more like Chinese, you can pick a last name with 1 character, and a given name with 1 or 2 characters.

I would think Fox is best translated to the surname 傅 (http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%82%85%E5%A7%93),Lance,could be translated to 矛、枪、戈、戟 by meaning, or pick something close to the phonetic translation 兰斯。

傅兰斯 would be fairly good to me. If you want to go deeper into Chinese-fying it, you might consider 傅戈. Other combinations don't go very well (傅矛,傅枪,傅戟)。

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