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Doraemon is represented as 哆啦A梦 in Chinese. It includes an alphabet ‘A’.

But I wonder why it uses the alphabet. Why not simply use a word equivalent for ‘A’, such as:

哆啦欸梦

I haven’t seen such words, that use an alphabet instead of Chinese characters. Is this an exception or common among foreign loanwords?

And why does 哆啦A梦 use the alphabet to begin with?

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    It's certainly an exception. I've seen non-loanwords (native Chinese) written with roman letters too though. Sichuanese has words like B货、B门. The phenomenon is probably just something like: I can't think of a proper/fitting character, let me use English. It's a bit gimmicky as well. 哆啦A梦 looks way cooler than 哆啦欸梦, which looks confusing and overpowering. – user3306356 Mar 18 '18 at 3:54
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Why not simply use a word equivalent for ‘A’, such as: 哆啦欸梦

IMO that's because 欸 is rarely used in Chinese writings, despite its very common use in spoken language. I've never seen any foreign word with /eɪ/ sound translated into 欸. AIDS(/eɪdz/) is translated to 艾滋 or 爱滋, not 欸滋, even though the latter would be closer to its original pronunciation.

Refer to this ngram chart. 欸 is simply not found in Ngrams, while 诶 is so rarely used compared to 阿(which is used a lot in the translation of foreign words, e.g. 阿拉伯、阿莫西林 etc.) and character A itself.


Is this an exception or common among foreign loanwords?

Yes and nos. There are a lot of words borrowed from foreign language retained a foreign alphabet in their spelling. E.g. X光(X-ray), T恤(T-shirt), B超(B-scan ultrasonography, or B-scan), 三K党(Ku Klux Klan, commonly called the KKK). What is common to them is that the alphabet is left as-is during translation. However, words like 哆啦A梦 or 卡拉OK(karaoke) is much rarer in that, the alphabet is a result of no suitable character to correspond to that sound.

At the end of 《现代汉语词典》, there is a list of words that are considered Chinese but begin with an alphabet (西文字母开头的词语). Other words with an alphabet in the middle can also be found throughout the dictionary.

  • Thanks and then is there no such word to express "e" or "ei" sound in Chinese? – Blaszard Mar 18 '18 at 16:05
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    @Blaszard If you are talking about Pinyin, those two vowels both exist, but not all constants form a valid combination with them. If you are talking about 音译(transcription), /eɪ/ sound with a constant sound before it can be transcribed, e.g. laser=>镭射. But /eɪ/ is rarely at the start of a syllable. And among those, fewer actually require being transcribed. As for /e/ I'm not sure. Most starting with /æ/ or /ə/ become 阿 or 亚. A list you may find interesting – zypA13510 Mar 19 '18 at 2:12
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Why is the use of Chinese characters and letters mixed in the rare translation of Doraemon? This is a set of katakana and hiragana shuffling from the original text.

So, why is the original name of the original text half of the katakana (ドラ) half of the hiragana (えもん)? According to Fang Kuangyang's second book, "Encyclopedic Encyclopedia (Supervisor/ Fujiko Fujio)", Volume 1, page 107, the names of the original Doraemon were all written in katakana (ドラエモン), but they were finished in the factory. When the robot was registered, Doraemon finished writing the first part of the name and couldn't remember how to write the katakana in the latter part (it really was a bad product (-_-;)) and had to write hiragana.

Hey. So Doraemon's name is half a half of a pseudonym and half a pseudonym. The translation of the Chinese version of "Dream A Dream" uses half a half Chinese characters, which actually reflects this setting very faithfully.

  • Thanks but please consider adding a paragraph to make the good answer more readable... – Blaszard Mar 18 '18 at 16:06
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哆啦A梦 is a very strange translation, I do not know how it comes. In fact, the earliest translation in mainland China is 机器猫, that means Robot Cat or Android Cat, etc. The name was once translated to 哆啦A梦, and there is also a joke name 咸蛋超人 Salt Egg Superman, in Hong Kong & Taiwan. But now, it seems that mainland China also treat 哆啦A梦 as the official translation. I consider that maybe it is a request from the Japanese side, just like that Disney unified its unique Chinese name to 迪士尼. Generally, mainland China officially do not allow such hybrid translations.

  • 哆啦A梦 is from its Japanese name, aka the real name - Doraemon. As for 咸蛋超人 - the shape of the Ultraman's eyes look like a 咸蛋, thus the name. – Alex Mar 19 '18 at 21:57
  • Honestly, the translation 哆啦A梦 is totally rubbish, which was definitely not created in mainland China, but it is officialized. – 賈可 Jacky Mar 20 '18 at 2:18
  • @Alex I know its from Japanese name, I only said that one of the Chinese names, 哆啦A梦, was once used in HK & TW. But I never heard of 哆啦A梦 in mainland China in my childhood, I only know 机器猫. – 賈可 Jacky Mar 20 '18 at 2:22
  • it's ok, this cartoon character has many names actually - 哆啦A梦, 机器猫, 叮噹. It's a common naming method nowadays in China - Trump = 特朗普, Sony = 索尼, and your ID as well? – Alex Mar 20 '18 at 14:24

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