So I'm practicing by reading Game of Throne tweets and it's the names and naming that gets me. Here's the tweet and 5 questions on names and naming conventions.



小指头 - Littlefinger. Why not 小指?

拉姆斯 - Ramsey? How does this sound like Ramsey Bolton?

猎狗 - The Hound. How do people come up with this translation?

艾林谷 - Eyrie Valley? How does this sound like Eyrie?

小恶魔 - Tyrion. Again, how do people come up with this translation?

EDIT: My bad: 艾林谷 is Arryn Valley. It's the Vale of Arryn.


野人 - Wildlings

鼹鼠村 - Mole town

卡林湾 - Moat Calin

波顿家族 - THe Boltons

珊莎 - Sansa

莱莎 - Lysa (of the Vale)

罗宾 - Robin

艾雅 - Arya

乔拉 - Jorah

龙女 - Mother of dragons

奥柏伦 - Oberyn

  • i agree that some of these are poorly translated
    – Fabricator
    Jun 3, 2014 at 8:31
  • I don't follow. What's wrong with the translation of "The Hound"?
    – user4086
    Jun 3, 2014 at 13:10
  • Very interesting question, I am also a big fan of Game of Thrones. Jun 5, 2014 at 7:01

4 Answers 4


First of all, I'm Chinese and I'm a big fan of the Game of Thrones. I've read both the English and Chinese version of the novel.

For Ramsey and Eyrie:

Ra-m-sey, to mimic the "Ra" sound, because there is no such sound in Chinese, we use 拉(La1) instead. Actually a funny story is that there are a lot Chinese dialects in which people pronounce "R" as "L". One of my friend from Fujian always say 热死了(re4 si3 le1) as le4 si3 le1. This works for the "m" too. Chinese is a monosyllabic language. Almost every word is pronounced as "consonant+vowel"(耳 and other er sound words are the exceptions). So when we meet a single "m" in a name, we always translate it as 姆(mu3). There is also no sound like "sey" in Chinese. So we translate it into 斯(si1).

Eyrie follow the same rule because there is no sound like "rie" in Chinese.

For Tyrion, he is translated as 提利昂(a translation for the closest sound in Chinese). The "小恶魔" is a translation for his nickname "the Imp" actually.

Actually, as a Chinese, I think the translation for the name of characters in the Game of Thrones are pretty good. My favorite translations in the books are the names of the bastards.

River: 河文 Snow: 雪诺 Flower: 花佛 Stone: 石东

In these Chinese name, the first character is the meaning of the name and the second word is a sound mimic. And they read great in Chinese.

And also, what do you think is a better translation for the Hound?

  • I'm not saying the translation for the Hound is bad - I'm looking for the decision making process. Some guy picks it and people just go with it?
    – Steve
    Jun 4, 2014 at 19:16
  • 1
    @Steve For most translation of sound like Paul to 保罗, I think it is picked by the first people who translate English into Chinese( maybe when the missionary translate the Bible into Chinese). For the Hound case, I think it is because that in the book people always call the Hound as Joffery's dog( even Joffery himself). So the translator just translate it by the meaning. Jun 4, 2014 at 19:33
  • 1
  • Thanks @zyc - apparently I need to reread my own posts :-)
    – Steve
    Jun 5, 2014 at 14:28

When translating literatures or films, there is a convention that the personal or place names would not be translated strictly by their original meanings or pronunciations. And the translation would not have a single logic.

I don't know what translator's thought, but although the meanings of "小指头" and "小指" are similar, "小指头" just sounds more like a name (I don't know why).

"拉姆西" would fit the sound of Ramsey more, but as I said, the transcription in Chinese (especially in literature translation) is somewhat arbitrary. Some may confuse why use 姆 (mu) since there is no vowel after m, but it is unavoidable because Mandarin Chinese doesn't have an "m"-ended sound.

For other names, "猎狗" is just the literal meaning of "hound". And "艾林谷" is another arbitrary example because "Eyrie" is not ended by "n", a more appropriate translation would be "艾利谷".

I don't known why China version translated "Tyrion" into "小恶魔". But zyc answered this. In addition, sometimes the Chinese film subtitle would keep using one name no matter what is actually said from the actor's mouth in the films.

野人 literally means "wild people". Modern Chinese is hard to use only one syllable to mention something, maybe that's the reason why they have to add some other Hanzi (which will add more meanings) when translating Western literatures.

"鼹鼠村" is a literal meaning of "Mole town". But "镇" would be fit "town" more.

For "卡林湾", the literal meaning of "Moat" is "护城河" or "濠", but maybe the translator feels that the towers are located near a "gulf" so he/she just translate "Moat Calin" into "卡林湾" which means "Calin Gulf" literally.

(Note [2014-08-29]: Actually "湾" can be used to refer a curved inland waterway in some contexts, but this meaning is rarely used in modern Mandarin)

"波顿家族" means "Bolton family", this is because it's rarely in Chinese to use only family name to mention a family. In most occasion would have to add "家" or "家族" (family) to translate something like "The Boltons".

珊莎, 莱莎, 罗宾, 艾雅, 乔拉 and 奥柏伦 are simply translated by sounds. And "龙女" is actually means "dragon women". By the way, the Taiwan version just translated "Mother of dragons" by literal meaning as "龍母".


Most of your questions are plainly about transliterations and how they are supposed to sound like English.

English also has a lot of transliterations or borrowed words from other languages and we super butcher the original translations, try saying cul-de-sac to a native French person. These sort of translations, like you mentioned above (Ramsey, Eyrie, etc.), are pretty much foreign speakers (in this case Chinese) imitating English as best as they can using their own language - I don't know how 'accurate' you can expect it to be.

Other translations:

Hound 猎狗 is just a direct translation.

Little finger 小指头 is common usage in daily Chinese dialog, 小指 is must more official, just like man vs male in English.

Tyrion: I've never seen the show but the translation 小恶魔 means little devil - according to Wikipedia he's a deformed dwarf so I guess it's pretty clear why they call him a little devil.

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    小恶魔 should be the translation of "The Imp". Jun 3, 2014 at 13:38

Don't get too hang up on the translations. Chinese translation of English names usually only sounds a bit similar to the actual English names, this is done to make it easier for them to be pronounced. Also there are usually variations in translating English names so they are not official. One translation I also don't really understand is 小恶魔 - Tyrion. 小恶魔 means little devil, but in this case I think it's meant reflect the intelligence of Tyrion, sort of like an evil genius. Another reason for this translation is that Chinese people usually like to refer to people by their very distinguishing characteristics, usually physical appearance, so in this case that's where the 小(small, little) comes in.

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