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January 06 2005

Translate Your Name into Simplified Chinese Characters. In the spirit of Serenity's Sino-influenced look and feel, download your name in traditional calligraphic pictograms here...

... then learn about this amazing, ancient culture which, by the time of our gang's adventures in space, has spread throughout the known 'verse. (To keep this topical, the Chinese pinyin for 'Serenity' can be found here.) Feeling tattoo-y, anyone?

At the primary link, you can also order your Chinese name on a T-shirt, as well as satin cheongsam dresses, shirts for men and women, fans, calligraphy kits and more. There's also tons of info on Chinese history, arts, food and clothing scattered amongst the various pages.

Links page of informational Chinese cultural sites:
Chinese Culture and Arts

(Note: Chinese translation services vary in quality, and while the above site is free (and bad Chinese translation is, on occasion, hilarious), this one claims to offer the most accurate 'transliteration' of your name into Chinese --but you'll have to pay, dong ma?)

They haven't got my name. :(
Mine is on there (but then again its on every name list since my name is Adam). it looks like a cross with a line above and below it and then under that it looks like a man with a big nose and's kind of funny.
On a very Off-Topic comment:
Personally, maybe due to my raising, I find the simplified chinese so not attractive. The beauty of Chinese writing lies mostly in the traditional writing, with the simplified writing the poetry of each character is mostly gone seeking, well simplification, it's kinda hollow.
It's easer to learn, though, I can tell you.

Anyway, I thought this reaction from the site was funny:

"The e-mail address, a@b.c, is already subscribed to mailing list entitled "Free Chinese names""
I've gotten used to things not having my name at all, or not having it spelt correctly. ;_; it's all so sad. lol
Personally, maybe due to my raising, I find the simplified chinese so not attractive

It's easer to learn, though, I can tell you.

But strangely enough, my husband, who grew up with the traditional characters, can't read it!

My name looks about right - just a lot fewer strokes!
Mine looks like a dancing turtle (or maybe that's just me), how cute.
I thought Chinese pictograms represented words. How can a Western name be written in them??
They are words and they each have a specific pronounciation, so they transliterate Western names by using characters with sounds roughly matching how the name is pronounced. The meanings of the characters in this case are meaningless.
Zencat, Chinese characters DO represent words, so transliteration is generally meaningless, although with careful thought and consideration, one can often come up with a transliteration that has meaning to you, personally. For example, my Chinese name is "Yi Lan" which means "Rare Orchid". My parents named me this because I was born prematurely, 2 pounds in weight, purple from lack of oxygen. Purple orchids are rare and precious. See? And transliterating "Yi Lan" into English, roughly (transliterating in the other direction, if you see what I mean), you get "Elaine", which is a perfectly ordinary English name that is easy for people to spell. Also don't forget that most other languages are that way, too. For example, most Hebrew names aren't just names but "mean" something, e.g. "David" means "beloved".

As for the simplified characters, I hate them as they are nearly empty of meaning. For example, the character meaning "slow" in traditional chinese is basically a picture of a rhinocerous on a boat. Because that boat is really slow-moving with such a heavy creature on it! See, funny, and full of meaning. The simplified character is so unrecognizable that all the meaning and history and poetry are gone. Sometimes this was done by the communists during their simplification drive in order to re-write history in that typical Orwellian communist way, to make people forget their own history. Other times, simplification really was done to make things "easier" so that more people could become literate. Double-edged sword.

Of course the site is useless to those of us who were born with Chinese names.
P.S. - Rogue and zz9, just because they don't "have" your name doesn't mean you don't have an equivalent name. You can transliterate pretty much any English word, and you can have lots of choices for how to do so.

For example, say you wanted to transliterate "Rogue". In English that's one syllable, and the syllable ends in a consonant. Chinese is essentially all vowels, i.e. every syllable ends in a vowel, so to transliterate something ending in a pronounced consonant, you have to add on a vowel artificially. So "Rogue" becomes two syllables, "Ro" (or the nearest equivalent in pronunciation, 'Ruo') and "Ge". Now the fun part is that most syllables in Mandarin have four possible tonal pronunications and at least four (and often many, many more) meanings, so you can pick one you like for each syllable. "Ruo" happens only to be pronounced in the fourth tone, but still has several possible meanings, and "ge" can be pronounced in all four tones and has 34 possible meanings (at least) across those four tones (search for "ruo" with pinyin lookup to see them all, and do the same with 'ge'). Thus you could pick whatever characters you want that have meanings pleasing to you, combining those two syllables. How about, in your case, anything from "young dove" to "bamboo diaphragm" to uh, "feeble armpit". Hahah. I kid. ;-) But do the two searches and pick something you actually like. :-) Email me if you want more info, this is too long already.

Oh, and also, anyone who wants to follow these instructions, you will have to add a vowel sound after any syllable (not just the last one) in your name that ends in a consonant. Here's a link to a list of all possible syllables, to help you with vague equivalents, since english and chinese vowels and dipthongs aren't the same:
chickenbird: thanks for that most illuminating explanation of chinese characters. I feel like my new-knowledge quota for the day has been adequately filled.

And your additional consonant advice probably explains why my name appears as "Lukes" in the list, even though the vowel sound in English is obviously silent. Must say, to these uneducated eyes at least, it does look rather lovely. I'll try your advanced search for more fun and frolics.
You are welcome, Luke-slash-The First, I mean, uh, Lu-ke-se-slash-SNT. ;-) Hee, I love making Andrew jokes.

BTW, this site ( is much better than the one I gave before (, because there is an option to display the results with both the simplified and traditional characters, and you can search via Cantonese, radical-lookup, utf-8 unicode character, etc., not just English and Pinyin.
Oh, oops, you are "Lu ke si", not "Lu ke se", my bad. I see what they did now.

This is you, as the site did it for you:

lu2: cottage, hut; surname; black
ke4: gram; overcome; transliteration
si1: this, thus, such; to lop off; emphatic particle

Don't much like that "lop off" one.
Question: Do any of you folks with Chinese language skills know which form of the written pictograms seen in Firefly are more predominent, the traditional or simplified kind? Or were they all mixed up?

I'm looking for hints in the series as to how pre-rebellion Chinese influences spread into the overall culture/socio- politics of the civilized planets, and how those influences might have shaped the FF-verse as a whole (wish there was a complete FF history available somewheres, but I guess we can't have everything, can we).

Whaddaya mean, I've been thinking about this way too much? ;)
Right there with you chickenbird.

YOu guys should see Buffy subtitled in Chinese, is very funny. Either you choose to tranlate the meaning of the name which isn't always possible, or you go with the phonetic transliteration. In the subtitled Buffy the chose the latter. Buffy ended up if read out loud something like "Pu-Fay". There is no literal "B" sound in Mandarin.

The only great exception in all of this is how chinese people tranlate "John" which no correlation to its sound, and I believe no meeting correlation either. Even though I'd need to look further on this to certain of it. And the funny part is that part of my english name got a "John" (it's actually Johny if you check my profile), was created due sound similarities with my chinese name.

In Firefly as far as I can remember both simplified and traditional chinese was featured prominently, but I think I gotta double check that. My box set is finally arriving today, maybe I'll put my research mode to work. But that Serenity title redesign for the movie is in Simplified Chinese.

ANother site that might be useful to explore a bit on this CHinese language matter is:
The guys from fireflyfans, introducced it to me, and I did use it once in a while when I was writing the FIrefly episode reviews for a Brazilian site. If I remember right in it you can actually compare clearly the difference in the tradicional and the simplified chinese.
This is all such useful information! Thanks, y'all.

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