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  • "Huang" and "Wong," "Kwan" and "Guan," "Lee" and "Li," these Chinese American last names may have different spellings but they're actually the same.

    "Huang" 和 "Wong"; "Kwan" and "Guan"; "Lee" 和 "Li",這些華裔美國人的姓氏,可能有不同的拼法,但事實上他們都是一樣的

  • Take my family for example, my great aunts and uncles spell their last name "Lee," but my parents spell "Li."

    以我的家族為例,我的姨婆舅公他們把姓氏拼法為 "Lee",但我的父母卻拼做 "Li"

  • Let me explain.


  • First, remember that Chinese has hundreds of dialects variations that all sound pretty different.


  • For example, "let's eat" in Chinese can be


  • And that's just three dialects.


  • So what happens in a country where everyone is speaking a variation of a language and not everyone understands each other.


  • Chaos. Well, sort of.


  • Back in the day when Beijing was still known as Peking,

    回到北京還是被拼作 "Peking" 的時候

  • China hadn't yet fully adopted Mandarin as its official language.


  • In the 1940s, most government officials used Mandarin but many other dialects were also alive and well.

    在 1940 年代,大部分的政府機構都用普通話,但是其他的方言仍然存在並且有被使用的

  • (各種方言)

  • Because there was no one dialect that everyone used,


  • there was also no agreement on how to translate Chinese characters into Roman alphabet for Westerners to pronounce.


  • Couple of British dudes did create a phonetic alphabet to understand Mandarin called the "Wade Giles system"

    一些英國人創造了一套可以用來發音中文的字母系統,稱作「Wade Giles 拼音系統」

  • but was never officially recognized in the country.


  • As a result, the earliest Chinese immigrants to the United States wrote their last names based on the dialect they spoke,


  • say "Kwan" if you spoke Cantonese or "Guan" if you spoke Mandarin.

    如果說的是廣東話,則「關」拼做 "Kwan" ,若是說普通話,則拼做 "Guan"

  • But then Mao came to power, and he strengthened Mandarin as the national dialect, making it the standard language of education for all of China.


  • (from now on, the official language is Mandarin.)


  • He then got one of his own guys to create a phonetic alphabet and that became known as "hanyu pinyin".


  • Once China had an official alphabet for spelling,


  • "Peking" became "Beijing", "Nanking" became "Nanjing", "Canton" became "Guangzhou".

    北京就被拼做 "Beijing",南京被拼做 "Nanjing",廣州被拼做 "Guangzhou"

  • The city's actual names in Chinese do not change, just the Western spelling.


  • By the way, China aside, Taiwan still uses a mix of "Wade Giles" and "pinyin" spelling

    順帶一提,先把中國擺一邊,台灣仍然使用 Wade Giles 和拼音系統

  • while Hong Kong still speaks Cantonese and uses Cantonese spelling.


  • All this brings us back to Chinese names in the U.S..


  • Based on the spelling of those names, it gives you a clue about the origin of the family.


  • Like the Lees who emigrated from China before 1958, they spell their last name "Lee",

    像是在1958年移民至美國的李氏家族,他們將「李」拼為 "Lee"

  • but my parents who emigrated from China after the pingyin alphabet,


  • they spell their last name "Li" same goes for many others such as "Lam", "Lin", "Chou", "Zhou", "Ng", "Wu"

    就拼做 "Li",同樣的道理也適用於「林」、「周」和「吳」

  • Same family, different spelling and now you know.


"Huang" and "Wong," "Kwan" and "Guan," "Lee" and "Li," these Chinese American last names may have different spellings but they're actually the same.

"Huang" 和 "Wong"; "Kwan" and "Guan"; "Lee" 和 "Li",這些華裔美國人的姓氏,可能有不同的拼法,但事實上他們都是一樣的

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李是「Lee」還是「Li」?到底差在哪裡? (What's The Difference Between Lee and Li?)

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    張玉聖 發佈於 2017 年 04 月 07 日