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Names of Sun Yat-sen

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Title: Names of Sun Yat-sen  
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Subject: Sun Yat-sen, Sun Yat-sen family, Tōten Miyazaki, Four Bandits, List of streets named after Sun Yat-sen
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Names of Sun Yat-sen

Sun Zhong-shan (Chinese)
Calligraphy signed by Sun Wen, using his big name
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 孫中山
Simplified Chinese 孙中山
Sun Yat-sen (Western)
Traditional Chinese 孫逸仙
Simplified Chinese 孙逸仙
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese Tôn Trung Sơn
Japanese name
Kanji 中山樵
Lesser known names
Traditional Chinese 1. Genealogy name: 德明
2. Big name: 文
3. Small name: 帝象
4. Courtesy: 載之
5. Baptised: 日新
6. Pseudonym: 逸仙
Simplified Chinese Same as traditional Chinese except: 4. Courtesy: 载之
Honorary title
Traditional Chinese 國父
Simplified Chinese 国父
Literal meaning Father of the Nation

Like many Chinese, Sun Yat-sen used different names at different points in his life and he is known in Chinese under several of them. Names are not taken lightly in Chinese culture. This reverence goes as far back as Confucius and his insistence on "rectification of names."

In addition to the names and aliases listed below, Sun Yat-sen also used other aliases while he was a revolutionary in exile.


  • Genealogical name: Sun Deming 1
  • Big name: Sun Wen 2
  • Small name: Sun Dixiang 3
  • Baptised name: Sūn Rìxīn (孫日新) 4
  • Western name: Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) 5
  • Courtesy names: Zàizhī (載之) 6
  • Japanese name: Nakayama Shō (中山樵) 7
  • Chinese name: Sun Zhong-shan (孫中山) 8
  • Honorary title: Gúofù (國父) 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11

Genealogical name: Sun Deming

The "real" name of Sun Yat-sen, the name inscribed in the genealogical records of his family, is Sun Deming/Tak-ming (simplified Chinese: 孙德明; traditional Chinese: 孫德明; pinyin: Sūn Démíng; Wade–Giles: Sun Te-ming).[1] This "genealogical name" (谱名; 譜名; pǔ míng) is what extended relatives of the Sun family would have known him by.[1] This is a name that was used in formal occasions. The first Chinese character of the given name, (), is the generation character which he shared with his brother and his relatives on the same generation line. Traditionally, this name was not used in intercourse with people outside of the family, and inside China or Taiwan almost nobody knows that his real name was Sun Deming (although other historical figures such as Mao Zedong are known by their "register name"), and even many Chinese people wrongly assume that Deming was his courtesy name (; ).

Big name: Sun Wen

Sun's original name (原名) was Sun Wen 孫文; Sūn Wén).[2] This is also referred to as his big name (大名).[3] Colloquially, the "big name" (大名) is also known as the school name, whereas the "milk name" is known as the "small name" (小名; xiǎo míng).

His name Sun Wen is very well known among Chinese. After attaining public office, Sun consistently used this name - Sun Wen - to sign official documents.

Small name: Sun Dixiang

Traditionally, Chinese families would wait a certain number of years before officially naming their offspring. In the meantime, they used so-called "milk names" (乳名; rǔ míng) which were given to the infant shortly after his birth, and which were known only by the close family.[4]

Thus, his child name was Sun Dixiang/Sun Tai-tseung (孫帝象; Sūn Dìxiàng).[2] So this name Sun Dìxiàng is also referred to as his small name (小名).[5] This name, however, was not the name that he received when he was born.

Sun's parents dedicated his name to the deity Xuan Wu Shangdi, so the first character of his milk name (and of his brother too) was di, in reference to the god.[4]

Baptised name: Sūn Rìxīn (孫日新)

In 1883, 17-year-old Sun Yat-sen was baptized as a Christian when he started his studies in Hong Kong. On that occasion, he chose himself the baptized name (教名) of Rìxīn (日新), meaning "renew oneself daily".[6] In Cantonese, this is pronounced "Yut-sun"[6] (IPA: [jɐt˨ sɐn˥], Jyutping: Jat6 San1).

Western name: Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙)

This is the name he used while he was a student in Hong Kong around 1883.[7] Au Fung-Chi gave Sun the name Yìxiān/Yet-sen (逸仙), which in Cantonese is pronounced "Yut-seen"[6] (IPA: [jɐt˨ si:n˥], Jyutping: Jat6 Sin1). As this was the name that he used in his frequent contacts with Westerners at the time, he became known under this name in the West. In the Chinese world, however, almost nobody uses the Mandarin version Sun Yixian, but the Cantonese version Sun Yat-sen. When he signs his name in English, he uses this name variation Sun Yat-sen, as his native language is Cantonese.[1]

A street in Macau, though has the name Avenida Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (孫逸仙大馬路 Sūn Yìxiān Dà Mǎ Lù). Many Chinese cities also have 逸仙路 Yìxiān Lù.[8]

Courtesy names: Zàizhī (載之)

Later, Sun Yat-sen chose a courtesy name (字) which was Zàizhī (載之, meaning "conveying it"). Based on the Chinese philosophical saying "literature as a vehicle to convey the Tao" (文以載道, wén yǐ zài dào).[9] Courtesy names in China often tried to bear a connection with the personal name of the person. His courtesy name, however, was apparently seldom used, and is rarely known in the Chinese world. He has been referred to with surname Chen as Chen Zaizhi (陳載之).[10]

Japanese name: Nakayama Shō (中山樵)

A school registration paper used with Sun Tai-tseung (Sun Dìxiàng)
A stone using the more common name in Chinese Zhongsan

In September 1895 young Japanese philosopher Miyazaki Touten was passionate about the revolutions in China.[2] As a friend he wanted to help Sun while he was in Japan. When they arrived at the (對鶴館) hotel in Miyazaki Prefecture, for Sun's safety, he used an alias name to register in the hotel.[2]

Previously on their travel they passed by a board that used the popular Japanese name Nakayama (中山, lit. middle mountain). So he signed into the hotel book and was referred to under that name.[2] He then added the Japanese last name Shō (樵, lit. woodsman).[2]

Chinese name: Sun Zhong-shan (孫中山)

After the establishment of the Republic of China in 1912, and he was no longer pursued by the Qing authorities,[2] local people could refer to him as Sūn Wén (孫文) again.[2] But the name Zhong-shan (中山) was more commonly used later in his life (and to present day).[7] Today, the overwhelming majority of Chinese references to Sun use traditional Chinese: 孫中山; simplified Chinese: 孙中山; pinyin: Sūn Zhōngshān; Wade–Giles: Sun Chung-shan, which is a variation of the name that started in Japan.[7]

Many cities in both mainland China and Taiwan feature streets and many other public facilities so named, for example Zhongshan Roads, Zhongshan Parks, Zhongshan warship. His hometown Heungshan (香山; pin-yin: Xiangshan) County was renamed to Zhongshan apparently as an honour.[11]

Honorary title: Gúofù (國父)

In 1940, well after the death of Sun Yat-sen, the Kuomintang government officially conferred on the late Sun the title Gúofù (國父), meaning "Father of the Nation".[1] This title is still frequently used in the Republic of China in Taiwan. In the People's Republic of China on mainland China, the title "Forerunner of the Revolution" (革命先行者 Gémìng Xiānxíngzhě) is sometimes used instead.[12] Hong Kong people have long been referring to Sun Yat-sen as Father of the Nation, even after the transfer of sovereignty to the PRC in 1997.[12]

The honorific suffix Xīanshēng (先生) has also been applied to his name, sometimes even written with preceding Nuotai , as " 孫中山先生" (Sun Zhongshan Xiansheng).[1] In English and many other languages, the equivalent of "Dr. Sun" is often seen.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e 王爾敏. 思想創造時代:孫中山與中華民國. 秀威資訊科技股份有限公司 publishing. ISBN 986-221-707-3, ISBN 978-986-221-707-8. p 274.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Singtao daily. Saturday edition. Oct 23, 2010. 特別策劃section A18. Sun Yat-sen Xinhai revolution 100th anniversary edition 民國之父.
  3. ^ 郑宝倩. [1993] (1993). 华夏人名与中国文化. 中国人民大学出版社 publishing. ISBN 7-300-01661-8, ISBN 978-7-300-01661-0. P 80-81.
  4. ^ a b 段云章, 马庆忠, 张磊. [1994] (1994). 孙中山词典. 广东人民出版社. P 343
  5. ^ 陈禾. [2004] (2004). 新亚人物故事系列. 新亚出版社 publishing. ISBN 981-255-164-6, ISBN 978-981-255-164-1. p 3.
  6. ^ a b 王壽南. [2007] (2007). Sun Zhong-san. 臺灣商務印書館 publishing. ISBN 957-05-2156-2, ISBN 978-957-05-2156-6. p 23.
  7. ^ a b c 游梓翔. [2006] (2006). 領袖的聲音: 兩岸領導人政治語藝批評, 1906-2006. 五南圖書出版股份有限公司 publishing. ISBN 957-11-4268-9, ISBN 978-957-11-4268-5. p 82.
  8. ^ Ng, Maria Noelle. [2009] (2009). Pilgrimages: Memories of Colonial Macau and HK. HK University press. ISBN 962-209-208-X, 9789622092082. p 37.
  9. ^ 周漢光. [1998] (1998). 閱讀與寫作敎學. Chinese university press. ISBN 962-201-817-3, ISBN 978-962-201-817-4. P 71.
  10. ^ 李凡. [1996] (1996). 孙中山全传. 北京出版社 publishing. ISBN 7-200-02338-8, ISBN 978-7-200-02338-1. p 3.
  11. ^ "历史上的4月16日 广东香山县改名中山县 永丰舰改名中山舰". Retrieved 2011-04-17. 
  12. ^ a b 張裕亮. 中國大陸流行文化與黨國意識. 秀威資訊科技股份有限公司publishing. ISBN 986-221-627-1, ISBN 978-986-221-627-9. P 94.
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