Song (Chinese surname)

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Song character in ancient script on top, modern script at bottom

Song[nb 1] is the pinyin transliteration of the Chinese family name . It is transliterated as Sung in Wade-Giles, and Soong is also a common transliteration. In addition to being a common surname, it is also the name of a Chinese dynasty, the Song Dynasty, written with the same character.


The first written record of the character Song was found on the oracle bones of the Shang dynasty. The origin of the character can possibly be dated to an even earlier time (ca. 3800 BC).[citation needed] Structurally, the character has remained virtually unchanged for nearly 4,000 years. The etymology of the character can possibly be traced back to the abstract representation of a totem symbol. With the outer (upper) radical denoting preciousness, and the inner (lower) character representing trees or woods, the entire character literally means "holy wood" or "treasured tree", possibly a totem symbol from the late Neolithic and Bronze Age.

In the written records of Chinese history, the first time the character Song was used as a surname appeared in the early stage of the Zhou dynasty. One of the children of the last emperor of Shang dynasty, Weizi Qi - (子啟), was a duke named Song. The State of Song, Song's personal dominion, became part of the Zhou dynasty after the fall of the Shang dynasty. Citizens of the former State of Song, to commemorate the overthrow of their state in 286 BC by the State of Qi, began to use the character Song as their surname.


A less common Chinese family name ( pinyin Chóng) can also be transliterated to Soong in some Chinese dialects.

The surname is also used in Korea.

In Vietnam, the surname is pronounced as Tống.

Notable people[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]

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  1. ^ The approximate pronunciation in English is /ˈsŋ/.