Why my name is Yingzhen (映真)

A funny story relating to the sun (just a joke): My twin sister and I were born in the morning, but our parent hadn't thought about our names by that time. As a critic and novelist, my father wanted to give us some name poetic so this bothered him all the day. Thanks to my clever mum, that when in the afternoon she pointed out the sun 'in the center of the sky' that the first character '映 (Ying)= 日 (the sun) + 央 (in the center)' of our names came out. Later at sunset she said 'What the red sun! (太阳真红啊!)' then they got the last character '真 (zhen)' of my given name, and my twin sister got another character '虹 (hong)' with the same pronunciation of '红 (hong, means red)'.

Actually I am not sure the origin of my name, but I would like to explain that with my own words '反映真理 (reflecting truth)'.

‘Li’ (李) is my family name, shared by 93 million people and ranked as the second most common surname in China.


How to pronounce my name?

In the IPA system the pronunciation of my given name in Mandarin Chinese may be denoted as /yiŋdʒən/.

Though you may feel a bit easier to say my name in Cantonese Chinese like: /yiŋzəm/.

Also my family name 'Li' is pronounced 'Lei' in Cantonese and often spelled 'Lee' in Hong Kong and many overseas Chinese communities.

Here's the sound of my given name though you don't need to mimic the tones (I will be very impressed if you can!): Mandarin Cantonese


Some tips for pronouncing Chinese names:

1. 'q' in Chinese sounds like 'ch' in English, though we do have 'ch' and it sounds exactly the same as it in English.

However, adding vowels (e.g. 'i' and 'u') after 'q' and 'ch' result in totally different pronunciations:

i. 'qi' sounds like '\tʃi:\',  and `chi' sounds like '\tʃ\' + 'vowel sound' when English speaker pronounce '/r/' ;

ii. 'qu' sounds like '\tʃ\' + French sound of 'u', and 'chu' is '\tʃuː\'

2. 'e' in Chinese is exactly '/ə/' in English;

3. English and French speakers may omit 'h' in some Chinese consonant like 'zh', which pronounces like '\dʒ\'.

4. Mandarin Chinese has 4 tones, while Cantonese Chinese has 9!