How to address that the Chinese put the surname name always first?

+4 votes
I'm in the process of adding Singapore's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (born to the Christian name Harry) who died today at 3am.


In this process I noticed that the form at WikiTree of displaying anyone with the:


First name - Middle Name - Last Name


does not apply to Chinese people (and thus also to LKY as he was abbreviated). Their order is always:


Last name - Middle Name - First name


Is there any way that we can address this? I want to avoid that we end up with millions of doubles of Chinese people just because will put them in their natural order and some will follow the fields from WikiTree but both won't recognize that the person is entered twice.

To illustrate, his name was:

Lee Kuan Yew


but he's now showing at WikiTree as Kuan Yew Lee.


Also, if anyone wants to volunteer and help fill up his ancestors/family that would be appreciated. Last point, I've noticed there seems to be only famous actors, authors etc but not Politicians. I've tagged him so far directly under the famous people of the 21st century. Please correct it if I did it wrong.
WikiTree profile: 光耀 李
in Policy and Style by Andreas West G2G6 Mach 6 (61.1k points)

2 Answers

+8 votes
Unfortunately, this is a problem that has been raised numerous times in the past without any real solution. Zedong Mao, Kai-shek Chiang, Yat-sen Sun would be some of the unfortunate results of entering Chinese in WikiTree. I guess, until we can convince the powers that be to consider a toggle for name order in East Asian names we'll be stuck with this issue.
by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (547k points)
Thanks for your comment, Helmut. I see it's an old problem, still not addressed. To me as a programmer it doesnt' sound like not a big deal. A simple check box on the edit screen of the profile to change the display name into the East Asian reverse order is all we need.
+5 votes
Andreas, thanks for working on this and for asking for clarity.
The proper solution is probably to add a feature that enables the viewing user to see a name in their preferred format. I imagine this would be part of a larger internationalization conversion.
In the meantime, it's important to stick to the styles and standards in
by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)

This would be a great feature. Considering what it would involve it'sprobably not going to happen soon. Would it be an acceptable interim solution to enter the names in the present configuration in their native script and use the "other Name" field for the latinized version? 毛泽东 aka Mao Zedong, 李光耀 aka Lee Kuan Yew?

Yes, the native script would be the way to go, when possible. You'd still want to put the family name in the LNAB field.

Hi Chris, thanks for commenting. I don't think there is a need for "seeing a name in the user preferred format". You get me wrong here, it's not my preference to see his and other Asian names being displayed like this.


It's how the East Asian people have named themselves for hundreds of years and I think if WikiTree is a true global project and not one driven by Americans and their preferred needs then we should recognize this. WikiTree will never become a global family tree with it's current emphasis on Americans and the lack of recognizing that actually most people in the world have and are living outside of the US.

Like I commented on Helmut's comment a simple check box that enables to display the name in East Asian reverse name order is all we need.

It's still interesting to see you mentioning the "a larger internationalization conversion" project. Will tackle this in a different question to stay on topic.



I've tried to change it accordingly but it still looks wrong (as much as I can see). Could you please check the profile and help me edit it correctly?

I've used the Chinese characters but they still seem to be in the wrong order. Also, the profile shows up now completely in Chinese character, no direct reference to his latinezed name (which was how he was addressed)

Related questions

+13 votes
1 answer
+6 votes
0 answers
71 views asked Dec 2, 2017 in WikiTree Tech by Roger Shipman G2G6 Mach 1 (17.4k points)
+5 votes
3 answers
+3 votes
2 answers
+5 votes
1 answer
139 views asked Aug 31, 2015 in The Tree House by Tom Tweddell G2G Crew (760 points)

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright