Which real/common English words, e.g. names, sound like [tsɑŋ55]?

“Jan”[dʒæn] & “Jane” [dʒeɪn], for example, are close enough to [tɕiɛn214]. In fact, "Jan" is almost perfect.

“Song”([sɑŋ]or[sɒːŋ]) is better than “Jon”[dʒɑn] or “Johnson”[ˈdʒɔnsn] , but isn’t close enough to [tsɑŋ]. [dʒ] is closer to [tɕ] than to [tʂ] than to [ts].

The key point is the first consonant [ts]. We might focus on words beginning with [ð] or [z].

Pronunciation is essential, whether name or not is much less important.

[tsɑŋ55], hear this(horn icon): http://www.zdic.net/z/25/js/8D43.htm

A similar one [tʂɑŋ55], hear this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Zh-zh%C4%81ng.ogg

An explanation about 張, see this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhang_(surname)

I know the difference between [ts] (voiceless alveolar affricate) and [tʂ] (voiceless retroflex sibilant affricate), but I made a mistake at first, and I corrected it later. I apologize.

The reasons I ask the question are: 1. Anglicize my name, 2. expand my vocabulary.

I know that most English names aren’t used as common words. However, how about to use a common word as a name? At least, it sounds similar. How much similarity is enough? I gave two examples. Moreover, [tʂɑŋ55] is not only the sound of a surname with more than 87 million bearers, but also the sound of a few of common Chinese words/characters. In fact, “張” itself is both a name and a common word, just like “Jan” and "Apple" in English

  • 4
    The Zdic example (zang) you gave is totally different from what you are asking about (zhang). The roman symbol z in Pinyin is the voiceless alveolar affricate, which is what the Zdic link points to--the pronunciation of an instantiation of the voiceless alveolar affricate. Zh, on the other hand, in Pinyin, is realized in the voiceless retroflex sibilant affricate. [dʒ] is the voiced postalveolar affricate, and it's a sibilant. Given that there is no voiced consonants in modern Mandarin Chinese, the voiceless postalveolar affricate actually sounds closer. – Eddie Kal Mar 11 '18 at 17:04
  • @Deansue I know the difference between [ts] (voiceless alveolar affricate) and [tʂ] (voiceless retroflex sibilant affricate), but I made a mistake at first, and I corrected it later. By the way, [dʒ] is closer to [tɕ] than to [tʂ] than to [ts]. – Zhang Jian Mar 12 '18 at 3:51
  • 1
    You should ask that in a separate question. For starters, you should use "greater", rather than "bigger." – Eddie Kal Mar 15 '18 at 2:23

A very close anglicized name may be


and your name might be "Gene Zhang" or "Gene Johnson".

Having said that, you may choose any name you want since non-Chinese may not know your Chinese name. For legal purposes, your Anglicized name does not have to match your Chinese name, this is done more for convenience, but the Anglicized version needs to be on legal documents for a paper trail.


Another think to keep in mind is that the transliteration from Chinese to English may change over time.

The capital of China is


but 50 years ago it was


although the Chinese have always pronounced it the same way.

  • 1
    That has a different vowel, and "n" not "ng" as the consonant. – James K Mar 4 '18 at 17:53
  • +1 for the statement that the Anglicised name need not match the Chinese name; I work with several Chinese who have "American" names that are completely unlike their Chinese names. One of them has gone so far as to Anglicise his family name as well. – Jeff Zeitlin Mar 4 '18 at 23:21
  • I don't think "Johnson"[ˈdʒɔnsn] sounds like [tʂɑŋ]. – Zhang Jian Mar 9 '18 at 4:54
  • Changing to a Chrisitan name will not be exact, the idea is to be close to make it easier on everyone. – Peter Mar 9 '18 at 17:02
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    @ZhangJian No particular reason, they are basically interchangeable with no lose of meaning. If you say "It is easier on me." it implies there is a heavy burden involved without it. "It is easier *for me." does not imply that burden, just ease. – Peter Mar 12 '18 at 23:49

You give two reasons for this. Firstly to Anglicise your name. For this purpose you should use Pinyin romanisation, giving the name "Zhang". Names in English are not usually common nouns. Names are not normally found in dictionaries, my own name "James" has no known meaning, and cannot be used a word. The correct way to Anglicise a name is to use a standard romanisation, such as Pinyin.

The second purpose, to expand your vocabulary. I suggest you consider that English uses "Rhyme" as a way of considering words to have the same sound. Rhyme is important in English poetry and is a native English way considering words to sound similar.

Rhyme give lots of options: from common rhymes like "bang", rare words like "jang", and interesting words like "harangue". Lots more can be found in a rhyming dictionary

Now these words may not be considered to be similar your language, however remember your question is about English. In English Names don't have meanings, and rhymes are thought to sound similar.

  • The vowel in "tʂɑŋ" is not so close to the vowel that most English speakers use in "bang" or "jang". It is likely to be closer to the vowel of "baa" (making the pronunciation of "Zhang" approximately equivalent to a hypothetical English "Jarng"--as far as I know, there are no words that actually end with this sound in British English, but for a subset of American speakers, including me, the vowel in "song" is fairly close). – sumelic Mar 11 '18 at 8:28
  • Yes, a very different sound is used in British English for "song". – James K Mar 11 '18 at 8:45

The closest English words to [tʂɑŋ] would be the names Jon [dʒɑn] or John (also [dʒɑn] in my dialect of English). Another somewhat close word is song [sɑŋ].

  • Those are closer in US English than British, which uses a very different vowel sound [dʒon] – James K Mar 11 '18 at 8:47
  • “Song”([sɑŋ]or[sɒːŋ]) is better than “Jon”[dʒɑn] or “Johnson”[ˈdʒɔnsn] , but isn’t close enough to [tsɑŋ]. The key point is the first consonant [ts]. We may focus on words beginning with [ð] or [z]. – Zhang Jian Mar 11 '18 at 10:17

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