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Ioannes Andreas

Choosing a Chinese name based on the Apostle John

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Ioannes Andreas

I'm new and I only recently started getting more serious about learning Chinese. After doing research and talking to people, someone suggested that I should chose a Chinese name and that I should ask native speakers of Chinese what they thought, so that the name sounds natural and not a weird, sinified western name.
 

My first name is one of those kinds of western Christian names that can be translated into many different languages (Yochanan, Yuhanna, Juan, Jean, Giovanni, Ivan, Sean, Ian, Ianto, Johann, etc.), but it's confusing to me to translate into Chinese, because my parents named after the Apostle John, the person who, according to tradition, write the Gospel of John. In Chinese, different denominations use different translations for this name, and my family has both Catholics and Protestants, so it's hard to choose. I would prefer a more universal name and not one that's denomination-specific, but these are the ones I found on-line. Are these normal 名 míng names? Are they too strange? I'm also not sure how to read the last two, so I put question marks.
 

Protestant translation (基督敎新敎翻譯 Jīdūjiào xīnjiào fānyì): 約翰 - Yuēhàn / 
Catholic translation (天主教翻譯 Tiānzhǔ jiào fānyì): 若望 - Ruòwàng /
Orthodox translation (正教翻譯 Zhèng jiào fānyì): 約安 - Yuēān (?) /
'Nestorian' translation (景教翻譯 Jǐng jiào fānyì):  曜輪 / 曜轮 Yàolún (?)
 

I have found historical people with these names: 王若望 Wáng Rùowàng (1918-2001) who was born 王壽華 Wáng Shòuhuá but took on the name 王若望 Wáng Rùowàng as a pen name (號 hào name or maybe a 字 zì name). I also found 马约翰 Mǎ Yuēhàn (1883-1966) who was a pioneer in modern Chinese sports and physical education. Lastly, I found a 'Nestorian' (Church of the East) bishop who lived in the 9th century during the Tang dynastay who was Bishop John, or 大徳曜輪 Dàdé Yàolún. But I don't know how nice or even normal sound for actual Chinese speakers.  
 

For the last name 姓氏 (xìngshì), many sources on the Internet suggested that I should chose a last name that was only one syllable and sounded like my real name, which is also translatable into many languages (Andrew, Andreas, Andrés, André, Andrea, Aindreas, Andrei, et cetera). Since the first character in 安德魯 Āndélǔ is 安 Ān, which is already a famous Chinese last name 姓氏 xìngshì, I thought I should just pick 安 Ān.
 

So the possible options are:
 

安約翰 - Ān Yuēhàn
安若望 - Ān Ruòwàng
安約安 - Ān Yuēān (?)
安曜輪 - Ān Yàolún (?)
 

Is any one of these more natural and nicer-sounding than the others? And because I'm a guy, I would prefer a name not too feminine sounding.  

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Lu

If you want to be very clear about the Johannes/John connection, 约翰 is the best choice for a given name. You've clearly done your research, but I've only ever seen this name translated as 约翰, I don't recall ever seeing a 若望 or the other options (they do sound very nice though!). 约翰 will always look non-Chinese and translated, but since you are in fact not Chinese, that doesn't have to be a problem.

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889

I admit to a strong bias against names that scream "foreigner," and if any name does it's 安约翰. Better to at least try to fit in with a Chinese-sounding Chinese name I believe. Besides, call yourself 安约翰 and English-speaking Chinese will start calling you "John."

 

Nothing wrong with 安若望 as such but it's a bit of a mouthful if your pronunciation isn't perfect. And I think a somewhat harder consonant or two in there works best, especially in a man's name.

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Demonic_Duck

^agree with both of these. You want an English-transliterated looking name, go with 约翰 (no need for a surname). You want a Chinese native-looking name, go with 安若望. In either case, no-one will interpret you choice as denominational factionalism. Only highly specialized translators or biblical scholars would have any clue about that stuff, and even then they'd probably interpret your selection as an aesthetic choice rather than a factional one.

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Ioannes Andreas
8 hours ago, Lu said:

I don't recall ever seeing a 若望 or the other options (they do sound very nice though!)


Thank you for your response!  Someone on another forum said that  安曜輪 - Ān Yàolún sounded a little bit strange because of the meaning of the characters.  Would it be alright if I asked for your intuitions about the name?  I was also told that tone patterns were to be considered and that 平平仄, 平仄平, and 仄仄平 were the best ones.  I am kind of leaning towards Yàolún, but I don't know if 平仄仄 is terrible sounding.  

 

2 hours ago, 889 said:

Nothing wrong with 安若望 as such but it's a bit of a mouthful if your pronunciation isn't perfect. And I think a somewhat harder consonant or two in there works best, especially in a man's name.

 

Thanks a lot for your answer!  Would you be able to way in on whether 約安 - Yuēān or 曜輪 Yàolún sound nice to you, and whether the sounds are 'hard' enough to be a man's name?  
 

1 hour ago, Demonic_Duck said:

^agree with both of these. You want an English-transliterated looking name, go with 约翰 (no need for a surname). You want a Chinese native-looking name, go with 安若望. In either case, no-one will interpret you choice as denominational factionalism.


I really appreciate you taking the time to answer.  I hope it wouldn't be too much, but could you perhaps weigh on the names 約安 - Yuēān or 曜輪 Yàolún?  I definitely would prefer a less foreign-sounding name, but not at the risk of choosing really bizarre ones.  I was told that these did not have tone patterns that were as nice, and that 曜輪 Yàolún was 'a little weird' because of the combination of 'sunlight' and 'wheel/tire.'

* * *

Thank you, everybody, for such fast responses!  :)

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abcdefg

I've been to a St. John's Hospital in Kunming that calls itself 圣约翰。 

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Lu

安约安 is not a good choice, say it out loud and I think you'll hear it too. All first tones, a double 安 and Yue'an is hard to say with those vowels following each other. 安曜轮 and 安若望 both sound good to me (I'm not a native speaker though). I see the point about the shiny wheel, so perhaps 若望 is the best choice then.

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arrow

What about 安乔恩? Sounds like John and is also meaningful in Chinese.

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889

If it's good enough for 乔恩·邦·乔维 . . . .

 

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Ioannes Andreas
On 2/15/2021 at 1:33 PM, abcdefg said:

I've been to a St. John's Hospital in Kunming that calls itself 圣约翰。 


Interesting!  Thank you!  Do you  know which denomination the hospital is part of?
 

On 2/15/2021 at 1:36 PM, Lu said:

I see the point about the shiny wheel, so perhaps 若望 is the best choice then.


Thank you for your help.  I'm really leaning towards 安曜轮, but in your opinion, is the "wheel" thing too strange?  Someone suggested changing it to 轮 to 倫 to make it better, but I think I like the uniqueness and meaning of it.  I really respect Buddhism and Confucianism, and I heard the word "wheel" is used, like in "dharma wheel or "prayer wheel."  Also, there is the meaning of being on a journey, etc. but these are my associations, and if it's too bizarre for the average Chinese speaker, I'm willing to reconsider.  
 

On 2/15/2021 at 10:05 PM, arrow said:

What about 安乔恩? Sounds like John and is also meaningful in Chinese.


Thanks for your suggestion!  That sounds really nice too, but I don't know if I want to be associated with Jon Bon Jovi, lol!  
 

On 2/16/2021 at 12:07 AM, 889 said:

If it's good enough for 乔恩·邦·乔维 . . . .


Hahaha!  Thanks for letting me know about this translation!  :)

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abcdefg
3 hours ago, Ioannes Andreas said:

Do you  know which denomination the hospital is part of?

 

No. I've never seen any outward trappings of a religious affiliation on my visits there. No religious paintings or statues in the lobby. Just now took a quick look at their website and no prominent religious affiliation jumped out. Here's a link in case you want to investigate more thoroughly. Official name is 云南圣约翰医院。

 

http://www.syhyy.com/ 

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Lu
14 hours ago, Ioannes Andreas said:

I'm really leaning towards 安曜轮, but in your opinion, is the "wheel" thing too strange? Someone suggested changing it to 轮 to 倫 to make it better, but I think I like the uniqueness and meaning of it.

I'm afraid I really don't know. It doesn't appear to be an existing Chinese name (as far as some quick googling tells me). The safest course of action is to ask your Chinese teacher or other Chinese people you may know what they think of it. Of course you're free to keep asking until you find someone who says it's fine. Or you can just go for it and pick this name, and if anyone tells you it's weird, explain how you did your research and it's actually a transliteration of Johannes in the Nestorian tradition. Make sure you learn the relevant vocab and you'll have an immediate interesting conversation on your hands.

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