Chinese Dynasties, Languages, and Names

An introduction to Applied Sinitic Linguistics and recreating premodern Chinese names. Due to the logogram nature of written Chinese, recreating Chinese names is particularly difficult when compared to names recorded as phonograms. This inherently affects recreating Chinese names in the Society. Typically, we have simply transliterated phonograms according to modern transliteration systems such as Pin-Yin or Wade-Giles. There are two problems with this approach. First of all, even modern China does not speak a common language. Chinese motion pictures distributed in the People’s Republic of China have Chinese subtitles to accommodate this. Further, we know that languages evolve over time. Combining regional Sinitic languages with historical evolution makes recreating premodern Chinese names particularly difficult.

However, recent research in Sinitic Languages combined with fossilized versions in neighboring countries like Korea and Japan can enable us to better recreate premodern Chinese names. While this class is a preliminary examination of how this project can be pursued, the structure of Chinese names, naming patterns, and how names might sound in different dynasties will presented.

SCA Name:
Sǫlveig Þrándardóttir
Mundane Name:
Barbara Nostrand, PhD
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