Thread: About Tolkien's Name
I know that British people have their first name followed by a surname, sometimes with a middle name between the first name and the surname( Note that I am a Chinese who do not have this order of name). What I don't understand is about Tolkien's name...John is his first name obviously( it's related to his religion belief?) , so we can call him John Tolkien...But what about Ronald and Reuel? What is the meaning of the two middle names? And another question is that I don't quite know the exact pronunciation of Reuel which needs to be translated by sound into Chinese. Can anybody tell me about this?
Welcome to the PT family.
I am afraid that I am about to confuse you even more. Most people in an anglophone (English) culture have at least 3 names (firstname, middle name(s) and surname) and it is not unusual for a child to be given 2 or more middle names. Most of the time the child is called by the first name; however, the child may become known (addressed) by one of the middle names. We often name our children after family members, close friends or famous people.
Tolkien's father's name was Arthur Reuel Tolkien and his grandfather was named John Benjamin Tolkien.
So to clarify your question concerning Tolkien, I will quote from Humphrey Carpenter's book. J.R.R Tolkien: A biography.
'The boy's first name will be 'John' after its grandfather, probably John Ronald Reuel altogether. Mab wants to call it Ronald and I want to keep up John and Reuel...'
'Reuel' was Arthur's own middle name but there was no precedent for 'Ronald'. This was the name by which Arthur and Mabel came to address their son, the name that would be used by his relatives and later by his wife.
The name Reuel is pronounce 'Rool'. I am afraid that I do not know any Chinese so I can't give you any comparable phonics to your language. I know that "r" sound is difficult for Chinese speakers because you do not have a similiar sound in your language. I will ask my daughter the next time I am chatting with her. She is a teacher in Beijing and may be able to help, so I will get back to you on this.
It is true we don't have in Mandarin any sound as same as "r" in English.Most of the time the r-sounds are translated as "l" into Chinese. Some dialects in southern China seem to have the "r" sound but nowadays no tranlator would tranlate foreign names into Chinese according to his dialect. After all, English and Chinese are so different. We cannot just leave some proper names unchanged in text. They must be translated by sound into Chinese so that most people can read them.