My husband visited China recently and brought back a cute little gift for me. (Thank you, E!)
It’s a jade stamp in the shape of a horse (because I was born in the year of the horse). The stamp itself is my name written in two ways — the normal way, and transliterated into Mandarin Chinese.
He thinks he remembers the shop-girl telling him the characters meant “beautiful flower from the south.”
When I tried translating the characters myself, though, I wasn’t able to come up with that.
Here’s my attempt:
On the left is 南, nán, which means “south” or “southern.”
So that part of the definition makes sense.
But on the right is 茜, which can be pronounced either qiàn or xī. We want the second pronunciation (nán + xī = Nancy, more or less). With that pronunciation, the only definition I can find is “used in the transliteration of people’s names.”
So I have no idea where the “beautiful flower” part could have come from. Seems like that character doesn’t really mean anything at all.
Which is sad, because that bottom symbol, 西, could have been used on its own and given the name a much cooler meaning. It’s also pronounced xī, and means “west” or “western,” so my name could have been 茜 西, or “south west.”
Southwest would have been awesome for two reasons. First, I’m actually from the Northeast. :) Second, a directional pun-name could have made me one of the cool kids (finally!).
Have you ever had your name transliterated into Chinese, or any other writing system? How did it come out?