Listening to Kylian Mbappé’s Chinese surname:


Always makes me wonder why 姆 is even part of his name.

The English (read: French) pronunciation seems a lot closer to something like:

A single consonant (辅音) pronounced in different tones of:


Would it ever be acceptable to put a single consonant into a transliteration?

I’ve never come across such a case, so I wouldn’t imagine that it is okay. But how come?

  • 1
    Well, finals are very commonly transcribed with a separate syllable in Chinese even if they are just a single consonant. This is just modern transcription practice; Trump’s name can be captured in one character that sounds like e.g. 川, but we’re using three 特郞普 to capture t, rum, and p.
    – dROOOze
    Jul 16, 2018 at 13:00
  • Off-topic but maybe interesting: Japanese goes even further, ムスタング (mu su ta n gu) for mustang – never known how "gu" could appear.
    – Stan
    Jul 16, 2018 at 13:03
  • 2
    @Stan It's necessary, e.g. to distinguish from mustan; so they map every g with , which is the only usable kana for it.
    – user4072
    Jul 16, 2018 at 14:02

2 Answers 2


Per my experience, for human names, it is usually recommended to trace the etymology of the name and see how apparently are the consonants isolated in pronunciation. So it is not exactly a transliteration from the current language, but a transliteration of the names with shared etymology; this especially applies to the names appeared in Abraham mythologies.

For example, Schrödinger is 薛定谔 but Klein is 克莱因. “R” is almost adhered to “Sch” but “K” and “L” are clearly isolated to each other. I’m not quite familiar with phonology and I wish someone may make a formal explanation regarding why and how cases differ in consonants’ isolation.

This may not cover pseudo-Chinese transliterations introduced in around 1840-1940.

  • Schrödinger with 谔 is quite interesting.
    – Mou某
    Jul 27, 2018 at 10:05
  • I imagine it's something to do with salience of consonant clusters and homorganicity (whether they share a place of articulation). The phonemes /k/ and /l/ are relatively far in the mouth, whereas /ʃ/ and /r/ are relatively near (and even though it would be pronounced with /ʁ/ in German, which is quite far from /ʃ/, /r/ is the standard "canonical" source for the mapping into Chinese).
    – Michaelyus
    Jul 27, 2018 at 13:33
  • I'm unable to parse this answer. It seems to make several unrelated points but connects them with weird logic. Please clarify.
    – Nimrod
    Jul 28, 2018 at 1:18
  • @user3306356 Schrödinger today is translit. as 施勒丁格. 薛定谔 was from a time in the late Qing, early Republic period when foreign names were still given Chinese-sounding renderings and not much thought was given to consistency or invertibility. Another example is Neville Chamberlain = 张伯伦.
    – Nimrod
    Jul 28, 2018 at 1:46


A normal syllable always has a vowel inside. The syllables like 'n', 'ng', 'm' are very special and have very limited use. They would not appear in transliteration.

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