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Chinese/Chinese Story Character Name


Hey Terry,

         I have a query regarding Chinese names and surnames related to creating a character in a screenplay.

To explain, I'm a screenwriter currently rewriting a screenplay that revolves around a revisionist action version of the Cinderella mythology based in Beijing. The Prince Charming character has been converted to a hard-nosed Chinese cop. Think: A young Jackie Chan type.

I'm hoping to have the character's name revolve around the word 'Charming' but the whole translation thing is a bit of minefield. Seems to be multiple words for 'Charming' Plus, I want to be sure that Chinese culture has surnames that can be direct translations of words.

Preferably the character will have a first name meaning noble or heroic and then the surname being a direct translation of the word 'Charming'.

Hopefully you can help!



Chinese names don't have literal translations, other than a handful that have meanings like "King". And even then, Chinese people generally don't think of them in terms of the meaning, any more than an American thinks of a forge when he meets someone with the surname "Smith".

It wouldn't be difficult to find a given name that has a heroic or noble meaning -- lots of those around -- but you really want to settle on your surname first because you need to avoid the entire combination having a homophone or similar sound to something that is laughable, obscene, or whatever.

When I give Chinese names, I do it exclusively by stealing names of real Chinese people from university entrance exam lists. Otherwise, it's a minefield. Sorry this isn't what you wanted to hear. You might consider hiring a Chinese (native speaker) translator to see if they have better ideas, but I think it's a long shot at best.


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Terry Thatcher Waltz


I specialize in Chinese technical translation and conference interpretation, and terminology. I can answer questions about these topics, Chinese language pedagogy and learning issues, Chinese grammar for learners, and general issue related to Taiwan.


Full-time translator and conference interpreter since 1987; long-time resident of Taiwan. Qualified State Dept. language contractor (interpreter and translator) with extensive government and private sector experience.

American Translators Association; The Translators' and Interpreters' Guild; ATA Interpreters' Division; ATA Chinese Division.

AIIC (International Association of Conference Interpreters) website

Ph.D., Chinese; MA, Conference Interpreting

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