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Question: I am constructing a sport database; which has names of Chinese players. Names are stored in Romanized alphabetical spelling. A recent concern has come up regarding a "correct" order by which Chinese names are written down, not necessarily spoken. For examples:

Deng Wei vs. Wei Deng

Le Maosheng vs Maosheng Le.

Li Ping vs Ping Li

Linmei Feng vs. Feng Linmei

Jiang Huihua vs Huihua Jiang

Lu Xiaojun vs. Xiaojun Lu

Any hard rules to go by. The expectation is that at least +90% are in the correct order. Chinese players make up for 2% of the names in the database.

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    If Chinese names only make up 2% of the database, then the database is in English (or whatever the unifying language is), so Chinese name order is not relevant: You should follow the same pattern as for the non-Chinese names in the rest of the database. “Lu Xiaojun”, for example, is a Chinese name order, which writes the surname first, then the first name. “Xiaojun Lu” is an English name order, and should be used if your database is in English.
    – dROOOze
    Nov 12, 2020 at 18:19
  • @dROOOze If you can answerize your comment that would be great.
    – Anthony
    Nov 12, 2020 at 19:18
  • @dROOOze -- Quote:- "You should follow the same pattern as for the non-Chinese names in the rest of the database" Does this means that if the database is in Chinese and only 2% are non-Chinese names, the Chinese name order should therefore be used? And the same goes for, say, Indian database, etc? Nov 13, 2020 at 2:54

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Chinese names are written (in Chinese) in the following order:

surname given name

In non-Chinese contexts, such as a database of mixed-nationality names, all names (Chinese or not) should follow the order given by the target language.

Taking one of the examples, Lu Xiaojun vs. Xiaojun Lu, the Chinese name order is Lu Xiaojun (surname, then given name), while an English name order would be Xiaojun Lu.


Note that, for three-syllable names like Lu Xiaojun, it is often easier to determine the words corresponding to the given name and surname. Two-syllable names (e.g. Li Ping vs Ping Li) are more difficult; we can make educated guesses (the surname in this case is probably more likely to be Li), but Chinese characters are necessary to confirm this.

If you expect that at least +90% of the names are in the correct order, you can make an inference for classifying the surname and given name words for the two-syllable names, based on the existing three-syllable names, but this is really just guesswork.

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    Excellent answer.
    – Anthony
    Nov 12, 2020 at 19:58

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