Chinese fans create affectionate nicknames for popular Olympic athletes with hard-to-pronounce names

  • Chinese fans have been coining affectionate nicknames for popular Olympic athletes whose real names otherwise get lost in translation.
  • Among the athletes is U.S.-born figure skater Nathan Chen, dubbed “Chen No. 3” because he is the third eminent figure skater hailing from North America with the surname Chen in recent times.
  • Freestyle ski superstar Eileen Gu is referred to as “Frog Princess” because of a green helmet she once wore.

Chinese fans have had fun creating unique nicknames for popular Olympians with names they have difficulty pronouncing or remembering.

According to The New York Times, the phonetic translations of international names into Chinese has led to some nonsensical combinations of characters which are difficult to pronounce or remember for many Chinese-speaking fans.

“Nicknames are easy to remember,” Hebei Province figure skating fan Zhou Yuyao said, according to the Times.

Some of the most popular nicknames have included “Chen No. 3” for Team USA figure skater Nathan Chen, because he is the third eminent figure skater to hail from North America with the surname Chen in recent times; “Frog Princess” for Team China freestyle skier Eileen Gu, because she once wore a green helmet; “Instant Noodle Sister” for Russian figure skating coach Eteri Tutberidze, because of her blond curls; and “Chen No. 4 Little Sister” for US figure skater Karen Chen.

Even Ambassador Liu Yantao of the Chinese Embassy in Cyprus congratulated Eileen Gu on her gold medal win by referring to her as “Frog Princess” in a Twitter post.

Fans are also using nicknames as a way to express their admiration and support for Olympians. One figure skating fan, Yao Jiahui of Hunan Province, reportedly said, “It is a way for fans to express their affection for athletes.”

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