Writing your name in Chinese

I seem to have mastered the art of transliterating simple names to Chinese for fun and profit, if not the intricate and beautiful Chinese calligraphy. If you happen to pass by my cubicle, you will see some Chinese and Japanese calligraphy pinned up on the wall along with my name board. With Sun's Engineering Center in China, some of my colleagues from here are travelling to China. It would help them to have their names written in Chinese characters.

This is how it can be done: First try using a translation service like Babel Fish on the name. That might work for most western names. Else if the name to be transliterated is quite common one, then searching for it in Chinese google might immediately give the transliterated name in Chinese. Otherwise you may have to construct the word using pinyin Chinese syllables and pick the syllables that sound very close. A pinyin dictionary will be of great help. To transliterate Chandan I split my name into chan + dan. Then pick a good sounding "chan" and "dan" characters. Note that each pinyin syllable may have (4 or more) variations depending upon how you pronounce it. Just pick the one which has a good meaning. Then use something like Babel Fish to translate it back to English - just to make sure it does not mean something totally funny. So Chan-dan in Simplified Chinese might look like:
搀 担

In Traditional Chinese it might be:
攙 擔

Translating that to english using Babel Fish gives "Supports by the arm the load". Sounds good!

To get the name translated, I used the pinyin dictionary to get the Chinese word for sandalwood. ('Chandan' means sandalwood. Mostly all Indian names have meanings attached to them i.e they could also be used in the language, not just as a proper noun. For eg. the infamous sandalwood smuggler Veerappan is often called 'chandan smuggler' when referred to in local languages). In Chinese my name might be "Tan-xiang" :
檀香

For Japanese, it was much simpler. I entered my name as Romaji word in Jim Breen's WWWJDIC Server and viola it gave me the Japanese version which is same as the name, as written by a Japanese colleague of mine some years ago:
ちゃんだん

If any readers from the China can confirm this or point me to the right way to write my name in Chinese characters, I can try writing their names in the ancient Brahmi Script, which I was using to encode my writings several years ago for fun.
Comments:

Actually, to write your name in Japanese, you should probably use the "Katakana" alphabet (which is used for writing foreign names) instead of the "Hiragana" alphabet. This would make your name チャンダン.

Posted by Anonymous on August 04, 2004 at 05:57 AM PDT #

I don't have a comment, just a question. Do you know how to write my name in Chinese? My name is Lori. Thanks.

Posted by Lori on October 30, 2004 at 10:17 PM PDT #

This may be of help: http://chineseculture.about.com/library/name/female/blna_lori.htm

Posted by Chandan on November 02, 2004 at 12:48 AM PST #

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