When a name is introduced such as 阮天文, native speakers might want to know what the characters are, so they can spell it. Does it make sense if you were to say 天气的天, 文化的文?

However, what would be a good description for 阮? And are there better ways to describe 天 and 文?

  • 天气的天, 文化的文 is fine. As for 阮, First thing off the top of my head is: 越南人姓阮的那個阮. From WiKi" 阮姓,是中國大陆、香港、台灣和越南的姓氏之一,是越南全國最大的姓氏 – Tang Ho Mar 26 at 7:32
  • I only found two "ruan3" marked as family names in the dictionary, and the other one is rarely seen. (This is the first time I know that it can be used as a family name, actually) – fefe Mar 26 at 9:23

"...a description for 阮"

This surname, (Ruan in Mandarin), is of course equivalent to "Nguyen", a very common Vietnamese surname.

One way to describe it to Chinese speakers is, usually, to break it down into its constituent parts.

Start with the radical which is 阝, (fu4), and is known as "耳刀", and since this radical is on the left side of the character it is called 左耳刀.

Then say that 右手边, is 元, 元宵节的元 (元宵节 is the Chinese Lantern Festival)

So, combining " 阝" with "元" will give you 阮

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EDIT 2 My wife (native speaker) gave me some more hints:

  1. If you know some famous person with that character as family name, then Chinese people use that to give a hint what character is - e.g. 阮玲玉的阮 Ruan Lingyu de Ruan. (see Wikipedia)
  2. Another option would be to describe how to write : 耳朵偏旁 and then 加一个元 which means An ear and then add a yuan

My own answer:

天气的天, 文化的文 is good (like the comment already states), but actually there is a system to describe strokes, that some Chinese people use.

It is called 笔画 bi3hua4, which is like an phonetic alphabet for strokes. This duckduckgo-image-search shows some of the charts that describe each stroke (as there are about 30 different strokes to describe)

I never learnt 笔画, so i cannot tell you how to describe your name in this system. You would have to name every stroke of every character. Because this takes too long Chinese people do the same as everyone would do: They mix both approaches.

In your case for example they could use 天气的天, 文化的文 and if the listener doesn't understand the the speaker would describe that character with 笔画.

EDIT: The order the strokes are 'described' in would be the actual stroke order you would write that character in. would be heng2 heng2 pie3 na4

Hope this helps!

笔画-chart as an example

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Note that 天文 together means "astronomy". People will probably be thinking 天文学的天文. Or 上知天文下知地理的“天文”.

The sound of the name is beautiful.

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Think rock'n'roll:


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As a Chinese, I hardly heard other Chinese whose family name is 阮.

So, first of all, I would guess this is a person from Vietnam. You can say:

左边耳刀旁, 右边是美元的元

When mentioning 天文, you would say either one of:




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