a quick primer to chinese naming/addresses/(some) culture for shang-chi fans
first psa: apparently some ppl need to hear this but for the love of god if chinese characters don’t introduce themselves with a single-character name, DO NOT SHORTEN THEIR NAME TO ONE CHARACTER ALONE. we never do that because chinese is a homophonous language!!
and also our names are made of characters that function as morphemes (words,, kinda) in their own right!! if i speak in chinese and call my sister by one character of her name only i could simply be using that character as a morpheme instead of addressing her. she wouldn’t know i was addressing her.
(some chinese ppl do shorten our names to one character when in the west or when not speaking chinese, yes. for example, my name is ruiqian, but i introduce myself as rui (pronounced ‘rey’ btw. it’s chinese, not japanese) because rui is less easy for non-chinese speakers to screw up than ruiqian (the ‘q’ sound is notoriously hard) and so it’s just easier and less painful all around to introduce myself as rui.)
so pls, do not shorten ying li’s name to li or shangqi’s name to shang. that’s not how it works. don’t do it. i lose ten years of my life every time this is done.
and yes, it’s ying li and ying nan. i know some places have their names as jiang li and jiang nan (??) but the 'ying’ character of their names only has one pronunciation. and also honestly why would you name your kid jiang nan when a whole place called jiangnan exists.
[edit: i initially said that ying li and ying nan are given names but apparently the subtitles my cinema had were wrong lol. the ying character is the same on the wiki, and since ying nan didn’t give any other family name when introducing herself in chinese, i will assume this is their family name]
finally, a primer on how chinese names should be written (since these characters are from the mainland. other countries have different conventions):
- Xu Shangqi ✔️
- Xu ShangQi ❌
- Xu Shang-Qi ❌
- Xu Shang Qi ❌
i’ve written his name as shangqi here instead of shang-chi for two reasons:
- shang-chi is the only name in wades-giles romanisation. not even his family name (xu) is in wades-giles, otherwise it would be written as hsu shang-chi (i’m pretty sure. honestly i stay far, far away from the madness of wades-giles because i don’t want to break down crying every time i use it)
- i’m quite sure shangqi is the only character marvel took from the comics? since the other names are written in pinyin (aka the SUPERIOR option to wades-giles)
- edit: also, as has been mentioned in the notes, my personal opinion on wades-giles is influenced by the fact that british diplomats created it, and my country was colonised by british people lol. in particular, taiwan still uses wades-giles! it’s just that the wades-giles system is outdated in the mainland, which is where the shang-chi characters come from. i didn’t mean to imply that wades-giles is outdated everywhere, and i apologise for that
ALSO ALSO ALSO!! i’ve seen this a lot in c-media fandom but in chinese culture, we do not address our elders by name alone. yes, that includes our older siblings. unless you want xialing to be incredibly rude to shangqi, in which case, go ahead, she can definitely call him shangqi as a sign of her anger. otherwise, she should be calling him 哥 ge / older brother.
some other addresses that might be relevant:
- 爸 ba / dad | 父亲 fuqin / father
- 妈 ma / mum | 母亲 muqin / mother
- 妹 mei / younger sister
these three (single-character) addresses (+ 哥 ge / older brother) can be doubled to form 爸爸 baba, 妈妈 mama, 哥哥 gege, 妹妹 meimei for the same meaning, but 爸爸/妈妈哥哥 baba/mama/gege is generally more childish. except, and this is important, 哥哥 gege can also be used flirtatiously, or to 撒娇 sajiao / act cute (it’s a little bit like aegyo). so just be aware of how you use it
some more addresses:
- 老师 laoshi / teacher: but really it can just be a respectful term to call someone older you respect
- 小姨 xiaoyi / youngest maternal aunt: what yingnan calls herself when introducing herself to shangqi and xialing
- 婆婆 popo / grandmother: also a respectful term for an elderly lady
- 外婆 waipo / maternal grandmother: iirc this is what shangqi calls katy’s grandma?
- 阿姨 ayi / aunt: also a respectful term for an older woman, or for an adult family friend. shangqi would call katy’s mum [surname]-ayi, since he’s katy’s best friend
- chinese women generally don’t change their names after marriage. our family is incredibly important to us (hence we place our family name before our given name, to signify that our family and ancestors come before the self) and so giving up your family name is generally only done in drastic circumstances (you need to change your name to flee from smth, etc)
- however, let’s say that shangqi for some reason never finds out what katy’s mum’s family name is. he would just call her chen-ayi then, since chen is katy’s family name
now, let’s say the ten rings organisation is a martial sect (because it sure looks like one to me!!). here are some more addresses you can use:
- 师父 shifu / teacher-father: god this is hard to translate, but basically it stems from the phrase 一日为师，终身为父 / one day of being their teacher makes you their father for life. wenwu’s disciples would call him this
- 师母 shimu / teacher-mother: same logic. this is what xialing’s disciples would call her
- 师哥 shige | 师兄 shixiong / elder martial brother: this is what wenwu’s disciples would call shangqi
- the difference is that shixiong can be used for any male disciple in the same generation who started training earlier than you, while shige can only be used for your shifu’s son, or a male disciple trained by your shifu
- the same generation basically means: anyone trained by your shifu or his martial siblings. it’s not relevant for wenwu, but it would be if shangqi decides to return to the ten rings organisation and take on disciples of his own
- 师姐 shijie / elder martial sister: for disciples who came into wenwu’s sect after xialing started her training (and also before she takes control of the ten rings organisation)
- 师妹 shimei / younger martial sister: for disciples who came into wenwu’s sect before xialing started her training (likewise, also before she takes control of the ten rings organisation)
- even though wenwu didn’t train xialing, she’s still his daughter, hence his disciples would refer to her as shijie/shimei
- 宗主 zongzhu / sect/clan leader | 掌门 zhangmen / sect leader: this is what disciples would call wenwu when he’s the head, and xialing when she takes over after
- 师伯 shibo / elder martial uncle: this is what xialing’s disciples would call shangqi
god okay i think i’m done. this post is way too fucking long but i sincerely hope this helps
if you’ve read this far and appreciated my work, please consider supporting me on ko-fi! <3