I've always been puzzled at the origin of the translation of "George" into Chinese. It's probably the only (pardon me if there are more) name that does not sound like its English counterpart.

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    If not 乔治, then do you have a better suggestion?
    – 杨以轩
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 7:14
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    In Cantonese (Hong Kong) they usually say "佐治" instead. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 8:47
  • 佐治 is one that comes to mind, 左治 also sounds close, or else佐智. But I am more interested in the 乔 part.
    – user3992
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 9:48
  • Cantonese has total different pronunciation to Mandarin. 佐 in Cantonese is similar to 乔 in Mandarin.
    – mikespook
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 10:45
  • 1
    possible duplicate of How do we choose the correct characters for a westerner name? Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 4:11

5 Answers 5


About the "乔" part of "George[dʒɔ:dʒ]", you can find some material in the 译音表(the Form of Ttransliteration). Besides, "奇" should be instead of "治" following the form. enter image description here

However, "约定俗成(the convention)" is one of the important rules of 《英文人名翻译准则》. Everybody often use "乔治" refer to "George", so that "乔治" is agreed upon gradually. Anyway, I don't know why did the first person call "George" "乔治".

Download 英语姓名译名手册(商务印书馆 第四版).pdf

  • Interesting. So this is one of the cases where there is an exception? I'm always puzzled cause sometimes when I read the news in Chinese, the way they translated the names in Mandarin does not click with the way we pronounce it in English. I need to Google up the name and Google will give me the corresponding English name for it. Really, I think we should translate names directly like the Japanese do.
    – user3992
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 4:59
  • @user3992 However, I have no idea about whether "乔治" is an exception. Maybe, as Yafufu said, "乔治" is a Shanghainese pronunciation.
    – zz22
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 12:10

Some says that "乔治" is very close to George in Shanghainese (上海話) since Shanghai was the big harbor allows international trades in 17th century. Lots of phrases are created/translated at that time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Pidgin_English

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    Very plausible explanation!
    – user3992
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 5:09

It seems that "乔治" is the only one.

And I think its pronunciation is the nearest one with its English counterpart In Chinese.

  • The nearest pronounciation is 作举. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 15:15
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    @InglisBaderson I guess that's a matter of opinion; I'd say 乔治 sounds closer than 作举. Maybe it depends on your native accent.
    – Cocowalla
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 15:36
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    It probably depends on both the native accents of the speaker and the listener. Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 6:37

No, it is not the only one.

Unless you think John sounds similar to 约翰.

Chinese translations for foreign names and words (such as names of other stuff) are weird if you compare them to each other. People from the cities, Guangzhou, Hong Kong (Speaking Cantonese), and Shanghai (Speaking Wu), which were first open to the world, created these translations based on their dialect.

Examples (Some of them have been used for such a long time that native speaker as me would not notice that they are not original Chinese words):

Sandwich 三明治
Toast 吐司
Cookie 曲奇
Humor 幽默 (I thought it is originally Chinese)
Taxi 的士
Pancake 班戟
Chocolate 巧克力/朱古力

Note that one word may have more than one translations.

  • I can sort of accept John cause John = Johann and when pronouncing it sounds like 约翰.
    – user3992
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 12:52
  • Did you mean to say "wired" or was it supposed to be "weird"? Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 14:04
  • John is translated to 约翰 for it is not from English. The J here pronounced like Y in English, and h is also pronounced. It is said that John comes from Hebrew word Yohanan. The history of 约翰 is much more longer than John.
    – xenophōn
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 3:47

When I did an immersion at UC-Berkeley a long time ago I was told my name, George, had the equivalent 乔治 Qiáozhì because that name was already established in school books for George Washington. It always sounded to me closer to the French Georges. My family name is Lang and I was given the choice between forest 林 Lín or blue 蓝 Lán. I chose the former, for obvious reasons of stroke number.

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