During this trip to YLF, and recent other trips in US, I just realized in more and more occasions, my name is printed as Wang Jian Shuo instead of Jian Shuo Wang. If you didn’t noticed the difference yet, let me tell you explicitly: it is all about first name first or the last name first for Chinese people.
I write about Why I don’t have an English Name 4 years ago. If you don’t have the time to read that long article, the quick reason is about how you can legally proof that you are the person identified by your English name. But in the last few years, more and more I feel a Chinese name is all about the Chinese identify that I feel very comfortable of.
Change of Orders
The order of the change is a small change, but it means something significant to me.
When we translate someone’s name from US to China, we keep the order. Bill Gates is translated to directly to Chinese using pronunciation, and the Gates part always comes after Bill. I cannot think of any scenario in China that people address Bill Gates as Gates Bill… The only transition from the last few decades was, there was to be a dot between the Chinese translation of first name and last name. Now, the dot is used and still regarded as the right way to do it, but fewer and fewer people will need to add the dot. Maybe because it is not directly in the keyword or easy to access via Chinese IME.
For the same reason, the translation of Chinese name to English seems easy. Pinyin is already a great way to do the word to word translation, but why Chinese name has to be put upside down to fit the English standard?
I didn’t think about this until recently I saw my name more and more often printed as Wang Jian Shuo. It at least reflected that the culture and people exchange in the two countries (or more countries) are more frequent. Just as people in China don’t really need the dot or even dash to help get the first name and last name apart (because the names are very family to many people already), people don’t need to change the order of Chinese names to fit the English tradition, since people will gradually know how that Chinese names always have surname first and given name last.