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[外媒编译] 【洛杉矶时报 20140111】我的中文名字——麦金农?

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发表于 2014-1-15 09:17 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 满仓 于 2014-1-15 09:22 编辑

【中文标题】我的中文名字——麦金农?
【原文标题】Wheat Golden Farmer? A lesson in a new Chinese name
【登载媒体】洛杉矶时报
【原文作者】Julie Makinen
【原文链接】
http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-china-names-20140111


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《洛杉矶时报》记者Julie Makinen在北京。

麦金农女士。这真的是我吗?

当我有机会去北京工作的时候,我很兴奋地准备挑选一个中文名字。毕竟,多少人有机会给自己挑选一个新的身份呢?

在中国,外国电影明星和政客的名字都是直接通过普通话音译过来的。例如Bill Clinton的译名就是“比尔•克林顿”,并没有实际的意义。体育明星有一些绰号,比如NBA运动员卡梅隆•安东尼的绰号就是“甜瓜”。

但是在这里工作的很多外国人都选择了符合中国传统方式的、比较简短的名字:一个字表示姓,接下来的一个或两个字表示名。

小时候,我非常喜欢那些美国本土的名字,比如Sitting Bull(译者注:坐牛,十九世纪著名的印第安人部落首领)或者Running Bear译者注:1959年Johnny Preston的一首歌曲,讲述一位印第安勇士的爱情故事)。中国名字也能体现这些生动的形象,要比Bob和Jennifer这样的名字表达出更加丰富的特性。

来自加拿大的电视明星Mark Rowswell说一口流利的普通话,他的名字叫“大山”,意思很直白。

我倒是没想起一个流传千古的名字,但是我的确想一边喝茶一边翻阅中文字典,找到一个完美的文字组合,既能和我的英文名字发音相近,又能表达我自己的特点,最好还能带点神秘性。

但是外交部国际出版署的干部有自己的主意。

当我申请记者证的时候——这是申请工作签证必要的步骤之一,我发现他们已经给我安排了一个名字。“麦金农”,这是我来自芬兰的姓氏Makinen草率的音译,中文的意思是“麦子、金子、农民”。

一位中国同事笑着说:“很土气呀。”

另一位同事小心翼翼地说:“听起来像个男人的名字。”

我进一步研究发现,Makinen已经有了一个官方的中文翻译(同样不讨人喜欢)。根据800多页的国有新闻机构新华社的音译手册,我的名字应该是“马基嫩”,这三个字的意思是“马匹、基本、鲜嫩”。

挑选一个吸引人的中文名字是不可能的了,无论个人还是公司都是如此。Coca-Cola的中文名称“可口可乐”与英文发音极为相似,而且也大体体现了“好味道和有趣”的含义,它被广泛认为是音译与意译的完美结合。而Microsoft的中文名称遭到了不少的嘲弄,“微软”很不幸地表达了“微小、柔软”的含义。

Vladimir Djurovic是上海一家品牌咨询公司Labbrand的总裁,他们与100多家外国公司合作,包括Marvel,来帮助他们挑选公司和产品的中文名称。他说决定一个恰当的名字是个复杂的过程,通常需要一个团队工作4到12个星期。

他们要筛选数百个可能的文字组合,看看它们是否都可以作为商标来注册,还要在多种语境中做测试。他说:“如果你有10个名字,用普通话表达都很好听,那么其中至少有3个名字用广东话说来肯定有问题。”

加利福尼亚电动汽车公司Tesla Motors最近在北京开设第一家展厅时,发现它的中文名称存在问题。来自Nikola Tesla(译者注:十九世纪著名的发明家、物理学家)的常规译名“特斯拉”已经被当地一位商人注册,这个人拒绝放弃商标权利。到目前为止,公司还没有确定一个专有的中文名称。

拥有心理学背景的台湾人庄志鸿在弗雷斯诺开办了一家公司,名为Good Characters,专门帮助人们选择名字,最低服务收费50美元。他说:“与公司合作更加有利可图,但我喜欢与个人沟通,因为他们是最终用户,他们更关心自己的名字。”

我没有闲钱找咨询公司,于是和一个同事一起上网查查看。我希望找到一个符合我姓氏的字,再找两个与Julie发音相似的字。但是网上对Julie的标准翻译是“茱莉”,含义是“草药和茉莉”。这两个字马上被同事否定了,“听起来像是个植物”。

我们确定了“马”作为我的姓,名字决定使用“珠力”,意思大概是“珍珠、努力”。

我感觉就像一个经历了分娩痛苦之后的母亲,在出生证明上潦草地写下“香蕉”两个字。当我向一位中国朋友讲述这件事,她皱了皱眉:“你应该去找个算命先生。中国父母给孩子起名时都这么做,别心存侥幸。”

于是在北京的喇嘛庙附近(译者注:应为雍和宫),我找到了坐在一个狭小办公室里的张布远。这是一位75岁的老者,留着孔子式的长须。和庄一样,他的收费50美元起步。

张研究过我的生辰八字,翻阅典籍了解我的五行属性——木、火、土、金、水——哪个比较强、哪个比较弱。然后他利用数字命理学确定了我名字的笔画总数。

我问他“麦金农”这个名字怎么样。他轻蔑地说:“不吉,”他数了数前两个字的笔画,“笔画数为19,预示短命。”(译者注:繁体“麦金”两字笔画数为19。)

我在想出版署的人是不是故意在整我。但她对我自己起的名字也同样不屑一顾,“珠力?这个名字含义孤独,你会缺少伴侣。你需要一个琅琅上口、吉祥如意的名字,比如‘大山’。”

张在一张便签纸上草草记下我的生日,他的桌子上面杂乱摆放着胡桃木、咳嗽药片、毛笔和一台电脑显示器。他在翻阅几本毛笔字的书。

他说:“你的命理属性偏土,你是个脚踏实地的人,忠诚、诚实,你不爱财。”然后他毫无暗示和讽刺地说:“你应当去为官从政。”

张的结论是,我缺火。他建议我名字前两个字的总笔画数为24,他的书上说24代表火。他认为“马”作为第一个字尚可,这个字有10划,所以第二个字必须是14划。他问我,“梦”怎么样?

我笑了。“梦”是当下最时髦的政治口号,习近平主席提出了这个含糊但是颇有号召力的“中国梦”观点。这句话出现在全国各地的告示牌上。

在共产主义时代之前,带有“福”或“财”字的名字受人欢迎。1949年革命之后,带有爱国主义色彩的名字,比如“国庆”变得时尚起来。如果我在习的年代选择“梦”这个名字,是不是有点像60年代的俄罗斯妈妈给自己孩子起名叫“人造卫星”?

他说:“你还可以加上第三个字。这个字怎么样,它的意思是‘皇帝’或者‘丈夫’。”(译者注:原文未提,但应为“君”。)这样看来我就是“马上做梦想丈夫”女士?

“你想见见我的儿子吗?”张有些调皮地问,“他今年48岁,离婚了,是个大学教授。他的个子足够高。”

我谢过张起身离开。同事问我:“你打算怎么办?”

我说,管它吉利不吉利,我就用“马珠力”这个名字。我已经在公司的表格上填了这个名字,而且比“香蕉”和“麦金农”要好。

而且,如果我参加肯塔基赛马会,至少不用再改名字啦。



原文:

Los Angeles Times reporter Julie Makinen in Beijing.

Ms. Wheat Golden Farmer. Was that really the new me?

When I was offered the chance to move to Beijing, I was excited about picking a Chinese name. After all, how often does one get to select a new identity?

In China, the names of foreign movie stars and politicians are typically rendered in Mandarin with direct transliterations — Bill Clinton, for instance, is written with characters that sound like Bi-er Ke-lin-dun and have no real meaning. Sports heroes earn nicknames — NBA player Carmelo Anthony is Tian Gua, or "Sweet Melon."

But many expats working here adopt shorter names following traditional Chinese form: One character for the family name, and one or two others for the given name.

As a kid, I was fascinated with Native American names like Sitting Bull or Running Bear. Chinese names can evoke similarly vivid images, conveying much more personality than, say, Bob or Jennifer.

Mark Rowswell, a TV star from Canada who speaks fluent Mandarin, goes by Da Shan, meaning simply "Big Mountain."

I wasn't planning on anything as grand, but I imagined perusing my Chinese dictionary over pots of tea, looking for the perfect combo of characters that would connect to the sound of my English name yet convey some essence of myself, perchance a bit of mystique.

The cadres at the Foreign Ministry's International Press Center, though, had another idea.

When I began my application for a press card, part of the process for receiving a working journalist visa, I found I had already been assigned a name. It was Mai Jinnong, a very loose adaptation of my Finnish surname, Makinen. The characters' meaning? "Wheat Golden Farmer."

"It sounds rural," one of my Chinese office colleagues commented, giggling.

Opined another, cautiously, "That sounds like a man's name."

Further research revealed that Makinen already had an officially designated (though equally unappealing) Chinese equivalent. According to the state-run New China News Agency's 800-plus-page style manual on transliterations, I should be Ma Jinen, three characters meaning "Horse Basic Tender."

Picking an appealing Chinese name is important, both for individuals and overseas corporations. Coca-Cola's Mandarin name, Kekou Kele, links closely to its English source and loosely translates as "Tasty and Fun"; it's widely regarded as a great combination of sound and significance. Microsoft, in contrast, has been derided in China for its rather literal moniker, Wei Ruan, with the unfortunate meaning "Slightly Soft."

Vladimir Djurovic, president of the Shanghai-based brand consultancy Labbrand, which has worked with more than 100 foreign firms, including Marvel, to select Chinese names for their companies and products, said that arriving at a proper name is a multi-step process that typically takes his team four to 12 weeks.

It involves sorting through hundreds of possible character combinations, screening them to see whether they can be trademarked and testing them in multiple dialogues. "If you take 10 names that sound good in Mandarin, three of them will have serious problems in Cantonese," he said.

Tesla Motors, the California electric car company, recently found itself in a Chinese name thicket when it opened its first mainland showroom in Beijing. Tesila, the common transliteration for Nikola Tesla's name, has been registered by a local businessman who has refused to give up the trademark. So far, the company has yet to choose a standalone Chinese name.

Andy Chuang, a native of Taiwan with a background in psychology, runs a Fresno-based company called Good Characters that helps individuals choose names, with packages starting at $50. "Working with businesses is more profitable," he said, "but I enjoy working with individuals more because they are the end customer and they care about their own name."

I didn't have the luxury of engaging a consultant, so a co-worker and I quickly searched online again. I wanted the "ma" sound for my family name, and two other characters approximating the sound of Julie. But the standard rendering of Julie, written with characters meaning "Medicinal Herb" and "Jasmine," was ruled out after another co-worker remarked, "That sounds like a plant."

We filed the form with Ma ("Horse") as my family name. For my given name, we settled on Zhu Li, meaning something like "Pearl Striving."

I felt like a dazed mother who goes into unexpected early labor and scribbles "Banana" on the birth certificate in the delivery room. As I recounted the episode to a Chinese friend, she frowned. "You should go see a fortuneteller," she said. "In China, parents often do this for new babies. Don't leave it to chance."

So in the shadow of Beijing's Lama Temple, I found the cramped office of Zhang Buyuan, a 75-year-old with a Confucius-style beard. Like Chuang, his services start at $50.

Zhang looked at my birth date and hour, then consulted texts to see which of the five elements — wood, fire, earth, metal and water — I was supposedly weak or strong in. Next, using numerology, he determined the number of strokes my name should ideally have.

I asked him about Wheat Golden Farmer. "Unlucky," he scoffed, counting the strokes of the first two characters. "They add to 19, which signals a short life."

I wondered whether the folks at the Press Center had intentionally cursed me. But he was equally dismissive of my alternative. "Zhu Li? It's a lonely name. You will be without a partner. You need a good, fortunate name, like Da Shan."

Zhang jotted down my birthday on a small notepad on his desktop, crowded with walnuts, cough drops, calligraphy brushes and a computer monitor. He flipped through books of characters handwritten in black ink.

"Your personality is close to the soil. You're down-to-earth, loyal and honest. You don't like money in your life," he told me. Then, with no hint of irony, he added, "You should be an official, a politician."

What I lacked, Zhang concluded, was fire. He suggested a name whose first two characters totaled 24 brush strokes; according to his texts, 24 meant fire. "Horse," he said, was good for the first character. That's 10 strokes, leaving 14 for the second character. How about Meng, he asked. It means "Dream."

I laughed. Meng is one of the strongest political catchwords of the day, popularized by President Xi Jinping and his vague but appealing notion of "The Chinese Dream." The phrase is plastered on billboards across the nation.

In the pre-communist era, names incorporating the characters for "fortune" (fu) and "wealth" (cai) were popular; after the 1949 revolution, more patriotic given names like Guoqing ("National Day") came into vogue. If I chose Meng in the Xi era, I asked, would it be like a Russian mother in the 1960s naming her kid Sputnik?

"You can add a third character," he said. "How about this one? It means 'emperor' or 'husband.'" That would leave me as Ms. Horse Dreaming of Husband.

"Do you want to meet my son?" Zhang asked, mischievously. "He's 48, divorced, a professor. He's tall too!"

I thanked Zhang and left. "What are you going to do?" my co-workers asked.

Unlucky or not, I said, I'm sticking with Ms. Horse Pearl Striving. It's already on the form, and it's better than Banana or Wheat Golden Farmer.

And hey, if I enter myself in the Kentucky Derby, at least I won't have to change my name.

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发表于 2014-1-30 09:41 | 显示全部楼层
有意思
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发表于 2014-6-15 17:49 | 显示全部楼层
无非就是为了诋毁中国文化而已
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发表于 2014-6-17 08:36 | 显示全部楼层
满仓的译文就是流畅,读起来很顺,非欧式中文
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发表于 2014-6-17 08:36 | 显示全部楼层
犯汉者必诛 发表于 2014-6-15 04:49
无非就是为了诋毁中国文化而已

闭嘴
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发表于 2014-6-17 14:04 | 显示全部楼层
The cadres at the Foreign Ministry's International Press Center, though, had another idea.
是不是外交部外国记者新闻中心?
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发表于 2014-6-17 14:05 | 显示全部楼层
其实我倒是觉得,这个报道蛮有意思的,这个作者不是有特别大的恶意,当然多多少少有些调侃成分。
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