Help me translate a first name in a foreign language
February 8, 2012 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Looking to have a name written in various languages.

Greetings all. I am helping a friend of mine with a small project - an invitation of sorts. Is there a "free" resource out there that allows you to convert a name into various languages? For example, we would like to know what the name would be in Russian, Chinese, Hebrew, Gaelic, Japanese, German, etc etc etc and any other ones we can get access to.

Can anyone help that may know of a resource(s) for this purpose? Again, we are doing this for an up coming invitation so I don't have a lot of time to go to a language department at a local university, etc, but we are looking for "accurate" interpretations of names. (the only reason why I ask if to be "accurate" is because I know of someone who "thought" they had a phrase tattooed on their body, but later found it to be something else; the person who translated it didn't do it correctly).

posted by dbirchum to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Patents. A lot of patents are filed in many different countries and on the front page of each one you will find the names of the inventors. If you can find one patent filed in 20 different countries you will know how to spell the name of the inventors in each of those languages.

If it is a common name it should be a piece of cake to find a U.S. patent with this name on it:

And then using this patent number do an international search for corresponding foreign patents here:

This is how I know how my name looks in a dozen different languages and it is as accurate as you can get since correctly naming the inventor is of key importance in the process.

mefi mail me if you try it and get hung up.
posted by three blind mice at 7:29 AM on February 8, 2012

If you mean somebody's name, you could try their namesakes on Wikipedia. This article in other languages is a sidebar on the left.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 8:10 AM on February 8, 2012

How about Omniglot?
posted by Rob Rockets at 8:52 AM on February 8, 2012

I would have asked here.
posted by advicepig at 11:14 AM on February 8, 2012

Here is hanzismatter's Gibberish Asian Character Chart. It might help you rule out bad "translations".

There are many unfortunate and unworldly people who wish they had known about this before they were tattooed.
posted by Sallyfur at 4:36 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

As far as translating a name into Chinese goes, it's hard to do this directly. One way is to translate into similar sounds in Chinese, but this may sound ridiculous to the average Chinese person, or may not even be a name. The other way is to translate the meaning rather than the sounds, but again, it might make for a weird name, if that word is not usually used as a person's name. I think the only real way to do it is to find someone who is an expert in Chinese to help you.
posted by bearette at 7:19 PM on February 8, 2012

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