Pronunciation: 茜

yuechu

Senior Member
Canada, English
大家好!

I was recently watching a TV show where someone's name (or nickname?) was 茜茜. The dictionary I use says that the character 茜 should be pronounced xī in people's names, but on the TV show, they pronounced the character qiàn instead. Are both of these pronunciations for this character commonly used (and known)? (Is xī an old pronunciation and nowadays, do people only say qiàn?)
Thanks!
 
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  • johnshen64

    Member
    English
    Well, in general, whenever a character has multiple pronunciations, it is the person (or rather the parents) who decides how you read it.

    The principle is called:

    名從主人

    Often we have to ask the person, "so how do you read your name"?

    樂 is another example.

    In dialects, things are even more complicated because often, there is a mandarin-like pronunciation and a native pronunciation. Cantonese, Taiwanese, etc. all have this issue. This is somewhat similar to 音讀 and 訓讀 in Japanese.
     

    yuechu

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Oh, I see. Thanks, John! :)

    That's a good phrase (and concept) to know! (名从主人)
     
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    yuechu

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Oh, I think I was reading the definitions too quickly... it says that the reading xī is "used in the transliteration of people's names". (foreign names, I am assuming) Has anyone seen it used in transliterating foreign names before?
     

    SimonTsai

    Senior Member
    Taiwanese Mandarin
    No, I has never. I think that we'd normally use 西 or 希 for Euro-Americans, 希 or 熙, or 喜, for Japanese and Koreans, 西 or 悉 for Indians.
     

    yuechu

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    OK, great! I don't need to remember this pronunciation for this character then. Thanks, Simon! 😀
     

    Xiaoqingyu

    New Member
    Chinese-China
    Hello! 茜 has two pronunciations. When it is pronounced as "qian", it refers to a kind of herb, or the deep red color. While when it is pronounced as "xi", it is mainly used to translate the foriegn girl's names, and with no practical meaning. When there is a 茜 in a Chinese name,we usually pronounce it as "xi", for it sounds more lovely than the pronunciation "qian". But if people want to be called "qian", it is okay.
     

    j29682896

    Senior Member
    Taiwan - Mandarin Chinese
    Oh, I think I was reading the definitions too quickly... it says that the reading xī is "used in the transliteration of people's names". (foreign names, I am assuming) Has anyone seen it used in transliterating foreign names before?
    Foreign name: Nancy
    transliteration of Nancy : 南茜(Xi1)

    This is the only example I can come up with for now, but I believe there are more names like this. However, examples like this are rare and it's not worth paying attention to. Just memorize it when you see one.
    Indeed, If you ask native Chinese speakers how to pronounce 茜, I would say ALL of them would tell you "qian4".
    If you see 茜 in a Chinese name, it's always(I think) pronounced as "qian4".
     
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    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    someone's name (or nickname?) was 茜茜. The dictionary I use says that the character 茜 should be pronounced xī in people's names, but on the TV show, they pronounced the character qiàn instead.
    Did they call the person "qian qian" or just "qian"?

    transliteration of Nancy : 南茜(Xi1)

    This is the only example I can come up with for now, but I believe there are more names like this.
    Different languages have different sounds. English has the "see" syllable, but Mandarin does not, so Mandarin uses the "shee" syllable (xi) instead when transliterating English names.

    Many English names (female names or nicknames) end in the"-ee" sound but only a few of them end in the "-see" sound.
    Here are 5 of them (all female): Nancy, Betsy, Chrissy, Kacey, Lucy (as in American actress Lucy Liu, 刘玉玲).
     

    lekal

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    茜,读xi,有
    茜茜公主 (Empress Elisabeth of Austria(1837-1898))
     

    27rabbit

    Member
    Chinese
    Yes, the pronunciation is up to the owner of this name. But as to 姓, we usually have a strict rule for these 多音字. Normally we just use exact one prononciation of all, and that prononciation is usually uncommon.

    Like: 仇 as 姓 is qiu
     

    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    This is the only example I can come up with for now, but I believe there are more names like this. However, examples like this are rare and it's not worth paying attention to. Just memorize it when you see one.
    Indeed, If you ask native Chinese speakers how to pronounce 茜, I would say ALL of them would tell you "qian4".
    If you see 茜 in a Chinese name, it's always(I think) pronounced as "qian4".
    I'm ALWAYS confused when i see 茜 in names, as a native Chinese speaker...
    But maybe you are right on this one: today, pronouncing qian4 in Chinese names could be overwhelmingly preferable than xi1.
     

    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    Many English names (female names or nicknames) end in the"-ee" sound but only a few of them end in the "-see" sound.
    Here are 5 of them (all female): Nancy, Betsy, Chrissy, Kacey, Lucy (as in American actress Lucy Liu, 刘玉玲).
    Can be 楠茜,贝茜,克里茜,凯茜,露茜, among all the transliterations.
    I don't think they are too few.
     

    SimonTsai

    Senior Member
    Taiwanese Mandarin
    The transliterations 露茜, 貝茜, 凱茜, etc. are all new to me. I am more familiar (and comfortable) with 露西, 貝西, and 凱西, respectively.

    That being said, the use of 茜 is unsurprising and understandable: People expect girls to be soft in manners and hearts, and the radical 艸 (meaning herbs) fits that perfectly.
     
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