Posted by M. H. Yee (18.104.22.168) on August 09, 2004 at 12:16:44:
In Reply to: Re: Re: Origin and meaning of my surname? posted by Allie Parton on July 29, 2004 at 23:23:31:
Without the Chinese characters and the circumstances surrounding the given names, much of what is given below is conjecture. For a more accurate answer, further information is necessary such as who named you, what is the dialect in question, and are those having these names male or female? It is possible that these names follow the opposite in traditional Chinese naming practices in that the English name was chosen first and from that, a Chinese one based on characters having similiar sounds as the English personal name. I can offer several possibilites if the names are Cantonese and are of siblings who are female.
Since the Chinese language is monosyllabic, each syllable represents a separate character. For instance, Allie would be two characters for /ah-lee/ [note that most Chinese dialects do not have the /l/ sound at the end of a syllable]. /Ah/ as in "alone" may be two characters: a) the pinyin A, which is pronounced in Cantonese as /ah/ means "An intial particle;" b) the pinyin ya, which is also pronounced in Cantonese as /ah/ which means "Junior" although it can be used as an abreviation for "Asia" or as an alternative for the A character above.
The /lee/ has many possible characters of which three are given below and are all given the pinyin spelling of li: a) li meaning "Benifical" and is pronounce as /lee/ rhyming with "me" in Cantonese; b) li meaning "The white jasmine" and is also pronounce in Cantonese as /lee/; and c) li meaning "beautiful" and is pronounce in Cantonese as /lai/ rhyming with "my."
Callie poses other difficulties since it may be pronounce two ways: a) rhyming with "alley" or b) rhyming with "holly." Let us take the first instance and give the syllable separation as /ka-lee/.
/Ka/ or /ga/ might have three possible characters, all three given the pinyin spelling of Jia. The first means "Beautiful," the second "Family," and the third "Admirable." Since Chinese families often give a common character to join siblings particularly those of the same sex, the /lee/ follows that as the above case for Allie.
As to the "Chia" in your question, do you mean "Chinese" or do you mean how do you pronounce chia? Chia is a Mandarin sound in which the /ch/ sounds more like /j/ as in "judge." Depending on the character, Cantonese speakers tend to replace that /j/ with a sound more like /g/ as in "gun." Therefore, chia is pronounce without tonal inflection as /jee'ah/ in Mandarin, and /gah/ in Cantonese.
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