I’ve received questions from several readers asking me about the actual Chinese characters for the names used in Butterfly Swords as well as the other books. I chose not to put in accent marks over the names in the actual text as I felt they would distract Western readers, but it may be of interest to readers who know Mandarin to see the pronunciations as I intended.
I do confess that I don’t know Mandarin (and would really like to learn!) . These are, to my knowledge, the appropriate names for the characters. If there’s a mistake here, please let me know so I can correct it.
Please note that the surname appears first. Also, the given name can be a single character or multiple characters. Thus the heroine of Butterfly Swords has a surname of “Shen” and her given name is “Ai Li”.
*A quick note to add that, Shen Leung is actually written down below as “Shen Liang” as Leung is Cantonese in usage. How does one handle dialect in such cases as these?
Jan 04, 2011 @ 13:33:40
This is great! I love seeing the names in Chinese characters. Just one tiny correction. In Mandarin, Shen Leung would actually be Shen Liang. Leung is Cantonese.
Jan 04, 2011 @ 14:32:06
Yeah, I originally had a disclaimer that the characters were technically Shen Liang as Leung is Cantonese.
Jan 04, 2011 @ 15:31:45
Sorry! I’ve always been obsessed with how certain modern historical figures in China used Cantonese for their names (Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek), while most others used Mandarin, even from the same period. So you’re actually keeping up with a trend!
Jan 04, 2011 @ 16:32:09
Not at all! I figured with the mix of dialects in China throughout history, it shouldn’t be so odd that a wandering swordsman goes by a dialectical name. It’s interesting how whole surnames can get “re-declared” as new names which fit the alphabet. The politics of language – not to be taken lightly!
Jan 04, 2011 @ 17:35:25
Yeah, that’s so true. I mean, Mao used to be Mao Tse-tung, but then he became Mao Zedong. Not even sure how to pronounce his name in the specific Hunan dialect he spoke. And then there were places like Peking, Swatow, Canton, and Mukden–now Beijing, Shantou, Guangzhou, and Shenyang!