Back in college, I took a regular English course that was required for all majors. The teacher just happened to be a grad student in British Literature, so we read a lot of British literature. All the books we read were 19th century British Literature books - Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, Frankenstein, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. We talked about the names of the characters, such as Pumblechook or Eyre.
I am wondering how a bilingual author would introduce a character with a bilingual name, with the English name simply being a secondary name. The character's "real name" is in a different language, and it is chosen because it sounds playful in that language. Examples include:
- 林木森 (Mu-Sen Lin. A visual pun.)
- 马騳骉 (Du-Biao Ma. A visual pun.)
- 何荷 (He-He. An English pun.)
- 毛祎 (Yi Mao. A Mandarin-based pun that sounds like "sweater".)
- 杨树 (Shu Yang. A Mandarin-based full-name pun that literally means "aspen tree".)
Realistically, some parents do choose pun names for their children's full legal names 姓名 or milk names 乳名/小名. Milk names tend to sound cuter, like 豆豆 or 苗苗. Some parents, on the other hand, just choose a ridiculous name. I know one couple that call their newborn baby girl 哼哼. Their reasoning? The newborn's cry sounds like a pig. They say if they have more children, then they will name subsequent children 哈哈 or 呵呵. These characters are merely human laughter sounds.
As an example, a young man goes by the name of 李悟 (may sound like 礼物, which means "present" or "gift"), and his twin sister goes by the name of 李树 (may sound like 李树, which literally means a type of tree that I can't find the translation of right now). They both choose English names for themselves to participate in the international workplace. The sister chooses to call herself Tree, and the brother calls himself Gift. Then, a monolingual English speaker meets them and thinks the English names are just ridiculous. Fortunately, the brother and sister are international students at an American university, and after making some observations, they pick more realistic names. The brother chooses to go by William, and the sister chooses to go by Susan. Does the author have to mention the English names right in the beginning, even though choosing the English names is actually part of the plotline? Or should the author go by the pinyin transliterations of their real names in Western naming order (given name first, surname last), even though the pun will be lost?