Many westerners (like I) possess a three-part name in full.

given + middle + family [名·中间名·姓]

It's understood that―in China―middle names typically don't exist.

Usually, westerners only translate their legal "first" and “last” names as per the traditional Chinese format below. (phonetically or otherwise)

family + given [姓·名]

However, if one would like to retain their middle name in the translation, where would they place it? What would be the conventional or culturally appropriate arrangement in this case?

Note: Most transliterations do tend to be exceedingly long compared to native Chinese names, but for now let's not worry about the total character count too much.


Very easy, just use Wikipedia to find examples, such as:

We could continute, but you see the pattern: [first]·[middle]·[last]

Two more observations:

  • (1) Sometimes the name to which the middle initial(s) of a person resolve(s) to is/are not known, in other cases, they are just a middle initial, e.g. Harry S. Truman (or Harry S Truman), which in Chinese is written as 哈里·S·杜鲁门, with the Latin letter between the Chinese characters. A bit odd, but remember that Chinese will use just the last name to refer to a foreign person, e.g. 杜鲁门, so the awkward "mixed" form will probably be used only once in a text (when the person's full name is introduced.)

  • (2) In other cases, when a person's middle name is not known, Chinese might use a character to replace the middle initial, this is commonly seen with Russian (Ukrainian, etc.) personages. Technically, the Russian middle name is a patronymic name, i.e. not the same as the Anglo-Saxon/Western middle name and middle initial, but from the Chinese point of view the issue is similar. Even if a Russian person's full name (given name + patronymic name + family name) is known, it's still rather long, especially when you need to fit that onto a television screen, e.g. Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is 米哈伊尔·谢尔盖耶维奇·戈尔巴乔夫, which is quite intimidating, especially in Chinese characters. Because most Chinese won't know how to type the (Cyrillic) first letter С [not the same as Latin capital letter C] of Sergeyevich (Сергеевич), they will adopt a different, easier solution: 米哈伊尔·谢·戈尔巴乔夫, i.e. shorten the patronymic name to the first character of the Chinese transliteration.


There are two ways to translate a non-Chinese name. The first is to use transliteration with the · character separating name parts. The order of name parts is not changed and the meaning of name parts is irrelevant. That would make it [first]·[middle]·[last] like others have said.

The other option is to use a name that follows the Chinese naming conventions. This is normally only done in case of people that live or work in China and use that name in daily interactions, like Matteo Ricci (Chinese name 利玛窦 Li Madou). Most people choose a name that is similar to the sound of their name in the other language, but that's not always the case. So the middle name may or may not be reflected in that kind of name.


It is translated as

given · middle · family

I personally think it is rude to reorder people names

  • Ah, that makes much more sense. My language instructor only emphasized the native Chinese arrangement without explicitly distinguishing foreign names. Thank you! – Corellian Dec 29 '15 at 18:24

You made a mistake. Translating a English names to Chinese won't change the order. Thomas Alva Edison is still translated to given-middle-family form as 托马斯·阿尔瓦·爱迪生. Only native Chinese names are family-given ordered, like 屠呦呦(Tu Youyou). Native Chinese surely don't have a middle name.

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