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Editorial Practices: Chinese and Japanese Names

Entry updated 27 September 2021. Tagged: Prelim.


Chinese names are given in the traditional order, with surname first; we do not use commas to separate surnames from "first" names in Chinese entry titles because the surname naturally occurs at the front. Romanization is standard Pinyin, without tone marks, which this encyclopedia employs not only for figures from the People's Republic of China, but also from Taiwan, Singapore and the Chinese diaspora. Hence, the likes of Chan Koonchung, born as Chen Guanzhong in Shanghai, but widely known as John Chan in his adopted home of Hong Kong. This can lead to some difficult editorial decisions over the encyclopedia policy of filing authors by the name "which is best known" in terms of our general statement of Editorial Practices. A more pertinent question might be "best known where?" Just as foreign authors are invariably assigned Chinese names in China (where Isaac Asimov is known as Aisake Aximofu), many Chinese authors assert "acceptable" names for use among foreigners, mixing some form of their surname with an "English" name only used in interaction with non-Chinese. Taam Gim, for example, has a Cantonese birth name in his native Hong Kong, is known as Tan Jian in Mandarin, but is filed in this encyclopedia as Albert Tam, the name he used during his sojourn in the United Kingdom. In the case of Cantonese names or names from the Republic of China on Taiwan, we will often give Pinyin romanizations at the head of an author's Checklist (see Editorial Practices: Checklists), in order to better aid Chinese speakers in working out which characters are being used (see, for example, our entry on Dung Kai-cheung). This can result in odd situations where an author like Chang Shi-kuo is also listed by the "correct" Pinyin form of Zhang Xiguo (the form that would be apparent to a reader looking up the individual characters of his name in a dictionary), even though he would be very unlikely ever to employ that spelling himself. However, a reader entering any one of these names into the SF Encyclopedia search engine would be brought to the entry in question, since it includes all variants.


Japanese names in the main text are given in the Western order, with surname last. However, we omit commas in the separation of surname and "first" name in entry titles, because the surname is already in the correct position for the purposes of alphabetization and search engine optimization. Romanization used is standard Hepburn, including macrons, except in those cases where an author's preferred romanization is non-standard: for example, Leiji Matsumoto rather than the Hepburn "Reiji" Matsumoto. [JonC]

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