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Regarding the Taiwanese names,

  • Many news medias (BBC, CNN) spell as Ing-wen (英文) [lowercase w]
  • The London School of Economics and Political Science spells as Ing-Wen (英文) [uppercase w]
    Cornell university spells as San-Cheng (善政)

Questions:

  • When Taiwanese people live overseas, how banks / schools / public utility companies spell their the first letter after the hyphen in given name? [I know many places spell their full names in all uppercase letters such as ING-WEN TSAI]
  • If it is spelled as Ing-wen Tsai, is the short form I. Tsai or I.-w. Tsai?

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4 Answers 4

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Using the modern rules of Pinyin the name should be written:

  • Cai Yingwen

Capitalization only applies to the first letter in a proper noun. The surname and the personal name are separated:

Pinyin.info | 2.3 Personal Names

Personal names are written with the surname and the given name separated, and with each of the two components capitalized. Remember as you look at the examples below that the surname always comes first.

The hyphen in between the two syllables of the personal name is a remnant from years past and does not fit modern rules of Pinyin.

Pinyin.info | 2.3 Personal Names

In the past it was common to separate the two syllables of a Han given name in writing by a hyphen, as: Zhōu Ēn-lái. This is not considered standard usage in Hanyu Pinyin. The given name is a single entity and should not be broken up; moreover, use of the hyphen to clarify syllable boundaries is entirely superfluous (see Part 1, 6.3). For these reasons, Hanyu Pinyin does not use the hyphen in this manner.

In either case the second syllable in the name would not be capitalized as it is part of a proper noun and not the beginning of a new one.

Even if you insisted on using the Wade-Giles or Gwoyeu Romatzyh romanization systems, capitalization rules would follow suite only capitalizing the first letter of the surname and the first letter of the given name.

There is, however, a small caveat:

Chinese language romanization in Taiwan | Personal names

Most people in Taiwan romanize their names using a variation of Wade-Giles. This simplified version employs no diacritics (tone marks, apostrophes and umlauts) and, in semi- and unofficial contexts, does not follow the standard capitalization conventions of Wade-Giles. Under Wade-Giles, the first letter in the second character of the given names is generally lower case, but Taiwanese names tend not to follow this practice. For example, Lü Hsiu-lien is often written as Lu Hsiu-Lien. The use of Wade-Giles is generally not out of personal preference but because this system has been used by most government offices' reference materials in Taiwan to date.

There are a few Taiwanese personalities (such as politicians) whose names are in obscure or idiosyncratic schemes. For instance, using any major romanization, former president Lee Teng-hui's surname would have been Li. Former vice-President Vincent Siew's surname is a rare form of Xiao, from Hokkien (also Sio or Siau). The given names of successive presidents Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen are romanized in Gwoyeu Romatzyh. The single closest romanization to Chen Shui-bian's name would be Hanyu Pinyin.

Wikiwand | Wade–Giles

If a syllable is not the first in a word, its first letter is not capitalized, even if it is part of a proper noun. The use of apostrophe-like characters, hyphens, and capitalization is frequently not observed in place names and personal names. For example, the majority of overseas Taiwanese people write their given names like "Tai Lun" or "Tai-Lun", whereas the Wade–Giles is actually "Tai-lun". (See also Chinese names.)

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The only ID you can provide when first going abroad is the passport. When you open a bank account, apply for a driver's license, enroll at a school, etc., passport is the only ID you have. So, your name is set according to the name in the passport. If you live in the US long enough, you'll discover that many institutions (hospitals, utility companies) are not so strict on names but on SSN. A utility company may accept Roberta Tsai for Ing-wen Tsai. If Ing-wen Tsai can get a utility company and a bank to accept Roberta Tsai as her name, she might be able to get a driver's license with the name Roberta Tsai.

The name Ing-wen Tsai may appear as IW Tsai, I-W Tsai, Ingwen Tsai, etc. I have seen formats such as Ing-wen Tsai Tsai and Ing Tsai Wen Tsai. Don't be surprised if Ing-wen Tsai becomes Ing, Wen-Tsai or WT Ing.

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  • Sorry I didn't say it clearly. I modified my question. I would like to know it is Ing-wen Tsai or Ing-Wen Tsai, for some places allow you input lowercase letters.
    – Bósài
    Oct 26, 2020 at 13:24
  • How “Ing Tsai Wen Tsai” comes out? In the United States, there are three entries in the form: first, middle, last name. So first name “Ing-wen” or “Ing-Wen”, middle name blank, last name “Tsai”, how to get “Ing, Wen-Tsai” (i.e. Wen-Tsai Ing)?
    – Bósài
    Oct 26, 2020 at 13:30
  • @Bosai I capitalize the second word in the given name but I notice that in the mail I receive they usually are not capitalized. Sometimes, that depends on the hyphen too. When there is no hyphen between the given name, the second word mostly likely is capitalized. Not the case if there is a hyphen between them.
    – joehua
    Oct 27, 2020 at 8:20
  • @Bosai You have to ask the people who sent the mail. The examples I gave above are from actual mail I have received. I mean the format, not the actual names.
    – joehua
    Oct 27, 2020 at 8:24
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I know this post is oder but still: Many years ago she was mostly spelled "Tsai Ing-Wen". But later it became "Ing-wen" since its only a syllabification, while "Ing-Wen" looks like a double-barrelled given name (like Jean-Claude).

  1. Ing Wen
  2. Ing-Wen
  3. Ing wen
  4. Ing-wen
  5. IngWen
  6. Ingwen

In my humble opinion, options 5 and 6 are the best for western people to understand Ingwen is one name. Contrary to all other options, there is no space or hyphen which splits the given name in two parts.

I know 5 (IngWen) isnt a official romanization used by many modern romanizations (they usually use either 4 or 6), but 5 is basically the same as 6 only distinguishes the two syllables without using a hyphen.

Mrs Tsai herself spells her name "Ingwen" in her signature. And Chinese-American actress Ming-Na Wen (in Wiki) spells her name in her signature "MingNa".

So i would guess the hyphens are only for "formal" writings like Wiki-Articles etc., but the options 5 and 6 are easier to understand for non chinese/korean people. I noticed too many people usually ignore hyphens at all, then Ing-wen or Ing-Wen becomes to Ing wen or Ing Wen, which looks like two seperate names.

Spelling Ingwen or IngWen makes 100% clear it's one name.

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  • 1
    “options 5 and 6 are the best” 🙀 you’re kidding lah 😼 using this scheme, the name 嫦娥 would be “change”, 進娥 would be “june”. how can a westerners pronounce it correctly, without confusions? Sep 27, 2023 at 1:55
  • What I want to know is, do Universities in China / Taiwan / Hong Kong award degrees with the surname of the foreign candidate in front? If not, why not? Sep 27, 2023 at 12:43
  • the confusion is: the name “june” of a chinese bearer, do we pronunce it as “may”, “june”, “july”; or “jun + e”? or, “change” is it a strange english name? or pronounce it as “chang + e”. that’s the troublesome of option 5 or 6 Sep 30, 2023 at 14:46
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Since i don't have "50 reputation", i can't write an answere yet. So i have to do it this way:

@ User
水巷孑蠻

You are saying "“options 5 and 6 are the best” 🙀 you’re kidding lah 😼 using this scheme, the name 嫦娥 would be “change”, 進娥 would be “june”"

My reply: I explained why. Are you saying Tsai, Ing-wen 蔡英文, Ming-Na Wen 溫明娜 and the korean Heung-min Son 손흥민 are wrong in spelling their given names as "Ingwen", "MingNa" and "HeungMin"?

They are using the options 5 and 6. Even if Wikipedia spells them as: Tsai Ing-wen Ming-Na Wen Son Heung-min

They themselfs write their given names as Ingwen, MingNa and HeungMin. So i guess it cant be that wrong.

Best regards.

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  • I am not sure about others, but Tsai's office uses Tsai Ing-wen. I think we should respect her own usage.
    – Nobody
    Sep 30, 2023 at 14:14
  • Her office, yes. But she herself spells her own name "Tsai Ingwen", no hyphen, just together, here: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/43/… Here the signature of Ming-Na Wen, she spells her name "MingNa Wen" (also no hyphen) upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/67/… And here the IG of Son Heung-min. He himself spells his name "HeungMin" there, also no hyphen: instagram.com/hm_son7/?hl=de
    – Chris
    Sep 30, 2023 at 20:23
  • I myself have had different signatures in different times. I was born and raised in Taiwan. I had no idea what my signature was for. During my youth, I used seal (stamp) all the time. (I am 70 some now)My first English signature was different from the one when I first arrived in the US, I had another one later. I don't think signature needs be exactly the same as the name in an official document. Do you know where the signature in Wiki is from ?
    – Nobody
    Oct 1, 2023 at 2:01
  • Another example, I found Ma Ying-jeou's signature. I don't see the "-" in the signature. Usually, You don't include the dash in your signature. My wife's name has a dash. She never include it in her signature. Signature is not the evidence of the official name.
    – Nobody
    Oct 1, 2023 at 7:30
  • I get your point and its more then valid! I have to split this message in multiple, but i go into detail what i mean: 1: William Kwai Sun Chow-Hoon 2: William Kwai-Sun Chow-Hoon 3: William Kwai sun Chow-Hoon 4: William Kwai-sun Chow-Hoon 5: William Kwaisun Chow-Hoon His chinese given name is Kwaisun, Chow-Hoon is a double-barrelled family name. 1 looks like Sun is a middle name. 2 looks like Kwai-Sun is a double-barreled given name like Jean-Claude, or a double-barreled family name like Au-Yueng. 3 isn’t used anywhere.
    – Chris
    Oct 1, 2023 at 11:57

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