Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present): - Asian -
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Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present)

Articles from Juliana de Luna and Lillia de Vaux

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November 2010 - Juliana de Luna Link to LoAR Cover Letter

Names in some languages spoken in Asia (Japanese, Arabic) are quite well documented by Society scholars, making names in those languages relatively easy to construct. Other Asian cultures are less well documented, making the lives of submitters and heralds quite difficult. This section will help you to figure out how to document an Asian name, first by pointing you toward some sources for documenting names, then explaining some of the standards used by the College of Arms and how to meet them for those other languages.

Before you get started on a difficult project, take a look at what others have done. I start with the Academy of Saint Gabriel library (, which has sections on "Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Islamic Names," "Central Asian Names," "Ancient Iranian Names," "Mongol Names," "Indian Names," "Chinese Names," and "Japanese Names." The one important print source I use for Asian names is Solveig Throndardottir's Name Construction in Medieval Japan, which can be bought from Potboiler Press ( It has large numbers of historical names of various sorts; in another month, I'll discuss how to use it most efficiently.

One of the first tricks is figuring out what language(s) you're dealing with. In India, for example, there were (and are) dozens of languages spoken. I often depend on online scholarship to answer these questions. Two useful sources are Wikipedia (, which has surprisingly extensive articles on the history of individual languages, and Ethnologue (, which is an online version of the standard reference on the modern distribution of the languages of the world (But don't forget: Wikipedia is not acceptable as the sole documentation for a name or name element). Between them, you can generally figure out what language(s) you might find in an area. This is important, because if you propose to mix names elements from two different times and/or languages, you need to be able to address whether they are compatible with one another. Even in a single time and place, there can be multiple languages represented; for example, Japanese names use both Japanese and Chinese readings of kanji, though generally not in a single name.

To register a personal name from a non-European culture, you need to present evidence that the culture in question had contact with Europe and Europeans before 1600. But before you get too concerned about presenting that evidence, take a look through LoARs to see if we've registered other names from that culture. If we've registered a name from that culture recently, don't worry too much about proving that contact again. However, there are many cultures that have not been shown to be registerable. A discussion of the kinds of evidence one might present is given in the January 2003 Cover Letter, dealing with Tibetan names. Note that second-hand contact (contact with a group of people who had contact with Europe) is not sufficient. In the case of India, we often look to the late-period Portuguese coastal possessions as evidence for contact. History books are generally necessary to argue for these points, as websites created by private individuals often include poorly sourced information and cannot be trusted.

You must then present evidence that the names are properly constructed and were used before 1600. For the first part, modern books of names and surnames may help, but they rarely help for the second. With the rise of Google Books and other internet sources, searching to see if a modern name was used before 1600 is often pretty simple. However, that very simplicity means that we are far less likely to give benefit of the doubt to a name element that appears only as a modern name.

Finally, you must present evidence that the name as a whole is appropriately constructed. We require all names to consist of at least two elements: a given name (or something that functions like one) and a byname (or something that functions like one). That can be difficult for some poorly documented Asian languages, but presenting names that seem to follow the pattern is the best way. If you can't find appropriate patterns for bynames, one solution is to construct a Lingua Anglica form of a byname. The use of the Lingua Anglica allowance was discussed at great length in the January 2009 Cover Letter.

For Asian names, locative bynames are often a good candidate. Remember that the Lingua Anglica allowance requires the use of the standard modern English form of the name. For this reason, of Bangalore or of Beijing are registerable under this allowance, while of Bengalooru or of Daidu are not (although these other names have also been used for those cities).

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