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“Shang-Chi” – What’s In The Name And Why Is It So Hard To Pronounce?

Even as Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is primed to spark off the next wave of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we’ve always wondered – why is his name is so hard to pronounce?

Created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin, Shang Chi, also known as the Master of Kung-Fu, was created in 1973 at the height of America’s fascination with Chinese martial arts, and truth be told, his name isn’t quite commonplace, even among the Chinese. Even up to when the movie was announced several years ago, the character’s Chinese name was assumed to be 上气, which literally translates to upper air, or upper energy.

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Marvel Studios finally revealed his Chinese name as 尚气, which, when said in Mandarin tones, is Shàng Qì. Regardless, the character cannot escape his American origins, which makes the majority pronounce his name as Shang Chi, under the American Wade–Giles romanisation of the Chinese language.

But even if some aspects of pronunciation is lost, Marvel fans can expect some sweet martial arts action from the upcoming movie.

Still, we wondered – how would those who do speak Chinese pronounce his name? We hit the streets of Singapore to find out, and boy, were we surprised!

We’ve watched it and loved it thoroughly. So be sure to check it out in the cinemas once it lands 2 September 2021!


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