Transcribing names for English fiction

Razzle Storm

Senior Member
English - America
Hi everyone! It's been a long time since I've logged in, but I hope you're all doing well.

I'm currently translating a web serial from Chinese to English, and would love input on transcription of names. Wade-Giles doesn't seem like it would be an awesome choice, as there are a lot of breaks with apostrophes that don't flow well. Pinyin doesn't seem great either for readers who might not be very familiar with Chinese pronunciation (especially with names like Long or Wang), so I'm trying to think of a good balance. Does anyone have any experience with this, or input to give?

Here's characters I have encountered so far:

叶秋 (Pinyin: Ye Qiu) = Yeh Cho
叶修 (Pinyin: Ye Xiu) = Yeh Chiu (I was thinking Yeh Siu, but the similarity of their names is integral to the plot)

苏沐橙 (Su Mucheng) = Soo Muchung

孙翔 (Sun Xiang) = Tsen Siung

陈果 (Chen Guo) = Chen Kuo

So far these are the ones I've seen. I've always used pinyin in the past, so I lack experience in transliteration. Any constructive input is appreciated, thanks!
  • xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    Hi Razzle Storm, nice to see you again! :)

    I don't read many translation works but my impression is that in the past in translation works , we had more names transcribed using Wade-Giles but the more recent trends seem to have turned to the Pinyin system. I perfectly understand your wish to make it easier for your readers by using a standard that is not set, but this very fact - transcribing by a standard which is not set - may cause more (untold) problems than help. Let's imagine some readers bringing some of the Chinese names from your translation to the forum to ask how to read them, I think we'd get very confused and are likely to confuse the readers with our replies :)

    However, if you decide to take this route, it may help to leave a note for the readers on your method of transcribing Chinese names in your translation works.
    Last edited:

    Razzle Storm

    Senior Member
    English - America
    That's a great idea! I can just make a List of Characters page (reasonable, since they tell me that this story has a lot of characters) and put translation notes there.
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