I’ve been getting a ton of Genshin Impact recommendations on YouTube recently since I started playing the game and was given this video called “Do Liyue characters say their own name right?” and it was so inaccurate that I decided to go and make my own tier list ranking here.
Very big disclaimer: I’m not a linguist and I also suck ass at Mandarin, so I’m nowhere near qualified to judge, but I’m doing it anyway for fun, because I really like foreign languages and Genshin Impact and I grew up hearing a lot of Mandarin and did technically take a year of Chinese school, but I really only know Cantonese, but still only at an intermediate conversational level.
Furthermore, there are some consonants that are pronounced slightly differently in southern China as well (which is where my family is from). This video on the southern accent highlights some of it and it’s pretty interesting, but miHoYo is in Shanghai, not Guangdong, which means I’m even less qualified to make this post.
So again, this post is just for fun, and in the end, it’s really inconsequential to anything really. I’m 100% sure I’m also pronouncing everything wrong as well.
One final thing to note is that I’m not going to be judging based on tones at all since English doesn’t have any tones. I’m just paying attention to the consonant and vowel sounds, so don’t worry if you have no idea what Chinese tones are.
Hu Tao, Xiangling
Xiangling was one of the ones in the video noted to be incorrect, but I listened to her voice clip over and over again and it sounds really accurate to me so I’m putting her here. Likewise, I couldn’t find anything wrong with Hu Tao.
Beidou, Ningguang, Xiao, Xinyan
Beidou is pretty close! I think if I were to nitpick, I would point out that I think the “b” represented in pinyin is softer, with a bit more of a “p” sound to it.
The second syllable in Ningguang sounds slightly off to me, specifically with the vowel sound. However, I’m not entirely sure if the reason why it sounds off is due to the fact that there are no tones involved. I know I said I wouldn’t be talking much about tones, but basically 光 (guāng meaning light) is of the first tone so the inflection is supposed to go up in the second part of the name rather than down like in English.
I think Xiao is putting too much emphasis on the “i” (rhyming with tree) part of the vowel jumble (would this be considered a dipthong?) but it’s definitely not bad.
I think Xinyan is pronouncing her name accurately, but her really strong southern American accent in the rest of her speech is really tripping me up 😅
Keqing’s name is probably one of the “weirder” names from an English perspective, but her VA does an okay job at it (as opposed to pronouncing her name like the word “catching”). In the second syllable, the standard Chinese “q” sorta maps to a light “ch” sound. “E” is described as “a back, unrounded vowel (similar to English duh, but not as open)” on Wikipedia.
Zhongli’s also alright, but I think the “o” sound needs to be stronger. “Zhong” looks as if should rhyme with the words “long” or “song”, but it actually has a long “o” sound as in the words “so” or “open”. As a small fun fact, the reason why the Chinese last name “Wong” rhymes with English’s “long” and not “Zhong” is because it’s actually a romanization of Cantonese rather than Mandarin.
Ganyu is also hard to describe via text because it’s a vowel sound that doesn’t exist in English. The “u” is supposed to be pronounced like how the German “u”-with-umlaut is pronounced, as in “Brüder” (brothers). According to Wikipedia, it also matches in French “lune” (moon). Given that, I really cannot blame anyone for saying “you” instead of “yü”.
Qiqi is pronouncing her name with very hard a “ch” sound when the “q”, as mentioned in Keqing, is supposed to be a light “ch”. Also her name in Chinese is 七七 which literally translates to “seven seven” which… is definitely an interesting name.
Chongyun makes the same mistakes of Zhongli and Ganyu combined but does it even worse at both. Chongyun was actually the character that inspired this post because it was so butchered and yet the video marked him as correct and that’s how I knew the entire video was bullshit.
Xingqiu confuses me because it seems like a relatively easy name to pronounce correctly but it’s not pronounced correctly? The VA pronounces it like “sing-cho” (rhymes with show) rather than “shing-chew” and I’m really not sure why.
Anyway, that’s it for me on this post. Definitely feel free to correct me on literally anything on this post (why are languages so hard? 😞)