Since I know Mandarin Chinese, and have been noticing some mispronunciations among the Magic community, I wrote this post to help correct them.The way Wizards translates from Chinese names to English ones is they use pinyin. Pinyin is the basically the pronunciation guide for Chinese characters. It’s widely used in Mainland China. It’s written in the Roman alphabet (the same alphabet that I’m typing in right now), and is supposed to help people pronounce Chinese. However, this article is going to help you learn how to pronounce Chinese. I’m not going to teach you inflection and tone, but I will teach you which sound to make. The main problems are with Portal Three Kingdoms cards, which are based on Chinese history in the Three Kingdoms Period (I spent a long time studying this period 🙂 ).
The worst mispronunciation I hear nowadays is people pronouncing Lu Xun as though the “x” were a “z”. This however, is wrong. The true pronunciation is pronouncing the “x” as though it were a “sh”. It’s not perfect, but it’s closer. If I had audio, I could do a more precise reading, but that might be hard to mimic if you don’t know Chinese or another tonal language.
Another common error is pronouncing Quan as “kuan” or something like that. Might be related to the fact that the song “Hit the Quan” pronounces Quan as “kuan”. However, the true pronunciation is closer to “chwan”.
In newer Magic sets with Chinese legendaries, they’ve moved away from harder pronunciations and have turned to the easier pinyins for names. This may have been a good move, but I feel like they should educate, not just get rid of hard pronunciations.
I hope that this guide helped you! What do you think?