So now I know what my name is in Chinese

Forbes.com writer Tim Wo Situo (Tim Worstall) gleefully quoted the words of one such fool.

Wo Situo, has a ring to it, eh?

Although I have a feeling that’s Google translate for “woeful situation” more than anything else.

22 thoughts on “So now I know what my name is in Chinese”

  1. Spelling error perhaps because of different Chinese languages.

    Tim Worstall correctly translates: Tim Woe Siotu

  2. In Pinyin ‘Wo’ can mean ‘me’; ‘Si’ can mean ‘dead’; and ‘tou’ can mean ‘head’ so your name could, possibly, translate to ‘me dead head’ haha.

    Of course these sounds can have many different meanings dependant on the tone and context. The meaning really comes from the character.

    John B, I don’t know what Romanisation you’re using but it’s not Pinyin, maybe the Taiwan one??

  3. Just on your surname itself, it kind of mean “I’m Dead”, literally. Now the translator wouldn’t be rude enough to do that kind of phonetic translation, but you get the picture.

  4. So Much for Subtlety

    Dongguan John – “In Pinyin ‘Wo’ can mean ‘me’; ‘Si’ can mean ‘dead’; and ‘tou’ can mean ‘head’ so your name could, possibly, translate to ‘me dead head’ haha. Of course these sounds can have many different meanings dependant on the tone and context. The meaning really comes from the character.”

    I followed the link. It is kind of amusing to see a bunch of Chinese interspersed with phrases like “nanny state” and “e-cigarette”. I kept expecting “weapon-grade cock end”.

    Anyway, the characters they used are, I think, 沃斯托

    A quick switch over to google translator: 沃 means to irrigate, 斯 means a type of ugly face mask, 托 means to support or the basis of something.

    Make of that what you will. But I would consult a Chinese person. Otherwise it does seem kind of insulting.

  5. SMFS is correct but missing the point. The reality is that the characters 沃斯托 are used for their sounds only and nobody cares about the nominal meaning. The translator will avoid making an inadvertent pun or negative connotations such as “the fucking idiot that is me” which is what Dongguan John’s suggestion actually means.

    And you’ve both missed that the full transliteration of the name was 蒂姆·沃斯托 (Dimu Wosituo). 蒂 and 姆 are characters that are used so infrequently that if you see them together they will represent the English name “Tim” about 100% of the time.

    btw, DJ, Taiwan uses the same Pinyin as the mainland, because they can’t avoid the fact that the biggest bully wins.

  6. So Much for Subtlety

    JQ – “The reality is that the characters 沃斯托 are used for their sounds only and nobody cares about the nominal meaning.”

    Chinese people are very sensitive to the meanings of characters. I am sure it is possible to look at a character and not immediately think of its meaning. It took me a long time before I realised what “Oxford” actually literally meant. But I would think most of the time Chinese people cannot avoid knowing what the meaning is, even if it is immediately obvious that this is intended to convey a sound.

    “btw, DJ, Taiwan uses the same Pinyin as the mainland, because they can’t avoid the fact that the biggest bully wins.”

    It has been a while since I was last in Taiwan, but when I was there a while ago, they did not use the same pinyin for things like road signs. They seemed to have their own that no one else ever used. Did they use the Mainland system but they did not call it that.

  7. Taiwan uses different romanisation e.g. Taipei and Beijing. Both ‘pei’ and ‘bei’ mean north, have the same character and are actually pronounced the same by the natives.

  8. My given Chinese name means ‘The Strongest’ (Taiwanese joker from our office gave me it!) which always gets a laugh when I give someone my business card; however, other colleagues just have something that is phonetically similar and when they ask a Chinese what it means they just reply that it’s meaninless and ‘just a name’.

  9. So Much for Subtlety

    Dongguan John – “Both ‘pei’ and ‘bei’ mean north, have the same character and are actually pronounced the same by the natives.”

    I am afraid I am showing my age but when I was in Taiwan they wrote Beijing differently because they called it Peiping.

    Not the same character, that second one.

  10. SMfS: Beijing is written in the modern simplified characters as 北京. Taipei as 台北. Perhaps you saw one in the old traditional characters?

    Chinese is confusing because even forgetting about the different dialects and concentrating on only Mandarin you have both the traditional characters and the modern simplified ones. Then you have different romanisations of the characters. e.g. Peking became Beijing when it switched from Wade-Giles to Pinyin but the correct pronounciation never changed.

  11. I just had a look on Wiki. Taipei is Wade-Giles romanisation system and Beijing the Pinyin romanisation.

  12. So Much for Subtlety

    Dongguan John – “Beijing is written in the modern simplified characters as 北京. Taipei as 台北. Perhaps you saw one in the old traditional characters? ”

    Nope. Older than that:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beiping

    Beiping or Peip’ing (Chinese: 北平; pinyin: Běipíng; Wade–Giles: Pei³p’ing²), meaning “Northern Peace” in Chinese, is a former name of Beijing, which means “Northern Capital”. The city was called Beiping from 1368 to 1403 and from 1928 to 1949, when the Chinese capital was at Nanjing, or “Southern Capital”.[1] In 1403 and again in 1949, the city’s name was changed from Beiping to Beijing or Northern Capital. From 1937 to 1945, the city under Japanese occupation served as the capital of a puppet regime and was renamed Beijing but most Chinese histories use the name Beiping for the city during that time period.[1]

    For decades after 1949, the Republic of China on Taiwan, which does not officially recognize the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on the mainland, continued to identify the city as Beiping.

    Ahh, good old days!

  13. So we have at least three actual speakers of some form of Chinese here and SMFS (the world’s greatest living expert on everything) is still arguing the toss with them.

  14. So Much for Subtlety

    Bloke in Germany – “So we have at least three actual speakers of some form of Chinese here and SMFS (the world’s greatest living expert on everything) is still arguing the toss with them.”

    Really? Who here speaks Chinese?

  15. Well, Dongguan John is actually in China so I’ll suppose that he might have a smattering or more.

  16. So Much for Subtlety

    Tim Worstall – “Well, Dongguan John is actually in China so I’ll suppose that he might have a smattering or more.”

    He might. The name is a bit of a give-away really.

    So, if I may let me direct BiG to his last posting:

    Dongguan John
    March 4, 2015 at 1:51 am

    oh wow I never knew that! Thanks! 🙂

  17. I can get by but I’m not exactly fluent.

    It was nice to learn about Beijing’s name change from ‘North capital’ to ‘North peace’ and back again. It was something I had not heard about. It also influenced me to download a book about Chinese history for my next read.

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