Horny Queen and Sad Eddie: Chinese Nicknames for Your Favorite 'Game of Thrones' Characters

Published on theBeijinger May 13, 2019

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With the last-ever episodes of the ultra-popular HBO series Game of Thrones almost upon us (sob), and popular bars around town packing out every week with screening parties, it's hard to avoid talk of the gory George R.R Martin fantasy epic. And while death-by-dragon, incest, and a casual beheading or two is fun to watch, the show can also serve as a useful language learning moment. 

It's time to go full nerd and learn some of the character names in Chinese, so you can casually drop them into the conversation as the drama plays out on screen tonight. "That was such a typical 龙妈 move."

>>WARNING: This article contains spoilers, proceed with caution.<<

But firstly, let's understand the different ways in which English-to-Chinese names can be formed, and the differences between the terms 'literal,' 'transliteral,' and 'descriptive.'

  • Literal: The meaning of the character's name is directly translated into Chinese.

  • Transliteral: The sounds of the character's name are represented by similar-sounding Chinese characters.

  • Descriptive: An entirely new name is created in Chinese, using the character's behavior, name, or attributes as inspiration. Can be used when no exact translation exists.

Dragon Mother

Character: Daenerys "Mother of Dragons" Targaryen
Chinese: 龙妈 lóng mā
Origins of name: Literal

Ok, it's not super imaginative, but when you've got an English name that works so well in Chinese, you run with it. Plus, 龙妈 is definitely more interesting than Dany's unwieldy official name: 丹妮莉丝·坦格利安 dān nī lì sī·tǎn gé lì'ān.

Awkward Snow

Character: Jon Snow
Chinese: 囧雪 jiǒng xuě
Origins of name: Transliteration and Descriptive

"You know nothing, Awkward Snow" could just have easily been the iconic line uttered by the late wildling warrior, Ygritte. Jon's official character name is 琼恩·雪诺 qióng ēn·xuě nuò, but fans quickly settled on 囧雪 which is a transliteration of his name. 囧 jiǒng is a derogatory term and can be translated as dumbfounded/awkward/confused. Given Jon's recent ability to leak sensitive information at inopportune times (revealing your true identity just before a battle? C'mon Snow), we think the name suits him.

Horny Queen

Character: Cersei Lannister
Chinese: 色后 sè hòu
Origins of name: Descriptive

The first Chinese character of Cersei's fan nickname, 色 sè is a homophone of 瑟 , the first character of her official character name (瑟曦·兰尼斯特 sè xī·lán nísī tè) and usually just means 'color' but can also mean lustful or horny. While the second character, 后 hòu can mean Queen, Empress, and 'rear' or 'behind.' The combination of the two characters indicates that she got the name because of her love affair with her twin brother. Take that, Cersei!
 

Three Silly/Stupid

Character: Sansa Stark
Chinese: 三傻 sān shǎ
Origins of name: Homophonic alternative of the transliteral original

Sansa's official character name in Chinese is actually 珊莎 shān shā, a transliteration, but given her questionable behavior (crushing on Joffrey? Really?) in the first couple of seasons, fans quickly adopted an alternative, homophonic moniker, 三傻 sān shǎ, or Three Stupid. Hmmm... we're detecting a bit of an anti-female characters vibe here... 


Second Girl

Character: Arya Stark
Chinese: 二丫 èr yā
Origins of name: Transliteral. 

Arya's official name is 艾莉亚 ài lì yà, but this nickname is also transliteration and plays on the word 丫 which is a colloquial and outdated term for a little girl, as in 丫头 yātou. Given that she is literally the second sister of the Stark family, this nickname totally makes sense. We would have preferred something like Tiny Badass Warrior Girl though, I mean, she DID kill the Knight King, no big deal.
 

Little Evil Devil

Character: Tyrion "The Imp" Lannister
Chinese: 小恶魔 xiǎo èmó
Origins of name: Descriptive

Tyrion Lannister's Chinese name "little evil devil" is consistent with his English nickname in the Game of Thrones world: "The Imp" which according to the Merriam Webster dictionary means "a small demon; a mischievous child." (It's also apparently a transitive verb: 1: "to graft or repair (a wing, tail, or feather) with a feather to improve a falcon's flying capacity" but that's neither here nor there... or is it? Could Tyrion somehow graft or repair shot-out-the-sky-and-probably-dead Rhaegal and guarantee the Dragon Queen's victory?)
 

Beauty

Character: Ser Brienne of Tarth
Chinese: 美人 měi rén 
Origins of name: Descriptive

Despite being one of the greatest warriors in the seven kingdoms, and the realm's first female knight, Brienne of Tarth has been nicknamed 美人 měi rén "beauty" by Chinese fans because she's, well, not. To be fair, this is also what certain characters within the Game of Thrones universe call her behind her back, but still... enough with the bullshit nicknames, fans!
 

Kingslayer

Character: Jaime "Kingslayer" Lannister
Chinese: 弑君者 shì jūn zhě
Origins of name: Literal

Chinese fans have adopted the same nickname used in English, "Kingslayer," which refers to the fact that he killed King Aerys Targaryen in Robert's Rebellion. Seems like a missed opportunity to call him Golden Hand Sister Lover or Ser Floppy Hair of Handsometown though.
 

Killer Sam

Character: Samwell Tarley
Chinese: 杀手山姆 shāshǒu shānmǔ
Origins of name: Descriptive and Transliteral

Finally, the unassuming maester gets the recognition he deserves! The 杀手 part of Samwell's name refers to the fact that he was the first person in the series to kill a White Walker, while the two characters 山姆 is a commonly used transliteration for the English name 'Sam.' While Brothers of the Knight's Watch snidely call Sam "the Slayer" in the English version, we're choosing to believe that Chinese fans mean it genuinely.
 

Spider with Eight Feet

Character: Varys
Chinese: 八爪蜘蛛 bā zhuǎ zhīzhū
Origins of name: Literal

Thanks to Varys's role as the chief intelligence officer and his extensive network of informants and spies, he's been nicknamed 'The Spider' in both the English and Chinese versions of the series, although Chinese fans take it one step further with the ultra-descriptive Spider with Eight Feet. This addition seems unnecessary (don't all spiders have eight feet?) but it certainly gives Varys the sinister vibe he deserves.
 

Little Squid

Character: Theon Greyjoy
Chinese: 小鱿鱼 xiǎo yóuyú
Origins of name: Descriptive

The late Theon Greyjoy earned himself the nickname 小鱿鱼 in English, which means "Little Squid." Fans call him that because the Greyjoy family sigil is the Kraken, a legendary, massive squid. Sure beats the Ball-less Wonder. 


Evil/Magic Mountain

Character: Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane
Chinese: 魔山 mó shān
Origins of name: Literal and Descriptive

"Woohoo! Let's go ride Magic Mountain!" takes on a totally different meaning when you realize that Chinese fans refer not to the theme park rollercoaster, but the super creepy, rapey, deadish (?), skull-bursting Clegane brother, Gregor. Chinese fans kept the "Mountain" part of his nickname from the original series but added the descriptive "Magic" which refers to his snatched-back-from-the-brink-of-death transformation by necromancer and ex-maester Qyburn in season five.
 

Sad Eddie

Character: Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark
Chinese: 悲伤的艾迪 bēishāng de ài dí
Origins of Name: Transliteral and Descriptive

The origins of this Chinese moniker are mixed, with the first two characters 悲伤 meaning sad, and the third three 艾迪 being the commonly used transliteration for the English name Eddie. I mean, if I was beheaded in the first season of one of the most successful televisions series in modern history, I'd be pretty sad about it too. Poor Sean Bean Edd, he can't cut a break.
 

Hunting Dog

Character: Sandor "The Hound" Clegane
Chinese: 猎狗 liè gǒu
Origins of name: Literal

Sandor Clegane is referred to as "The Hound" in the series, a nickname also adopted by the Chinese. Burntface Man would also have worked, although it's already taken by the titular character of the British cartoon a super-hero with a burnt face.
 

Big Bear

Character: Jorah Mormont
Chinese: 大熊 dà xióng
Origins of name: Descriptive

RIP Jorah. Ser Mormont's ancestral home is located in the Bear Island, an island far to the northwest of Winterfell, so this feature combined his role as sworn protector and unrequited-lover-forever-and-ever of Daenerys Targaryen means that he's earned the nickname 大熊 dà xióng, "Big Bear". Not bad, although we're not sure that it tops English-speaking fan favorite "Ser Jorah Mormont of House Friendzone."

Have YOU got a Chinese name yet? Be sure to read this guide first, so that you don't end up sounding like a weirdo.

Written with additional reporting and internet trawling by 邢嘉琦.

Images: Helen Sloan/HBO, HBO