I'd like to offer support to Ted's plea, and expand on it. I've recently had to work on several authority records for Chinese authors, and it is so difficult to navigate among the existing records when they give so little context. I am fortunate that I have a Chinese colleague at hand who has been able to assist me in making identifications. But even she encounters problems, because if all the information in a record is provided in transliteration, it can be very difficult even for a native speaker to figure out what Chinese character is meant.
The only way to be truly confident that you have made a correct identification is if the authority record includes the Chinese characters used by the author. This is becoming more common these days, but cross-references with Chinese characters are still the exception and not the norm.
The problem arises because the Chinese language uses only a fairly limited set of syllables. When these phonemes are transliterated into the Latin alphabet, the information about the tone at which the syllable is spoken is not recorded. The particular phoneme which we spell "Yang" in transliteration may represent any one of a number of Chinese characters. These characters are all distinct visually, and distinct when spoken because of their tone, but they all wind up looking the same in transliteration.
As an example, check out these authority records:
Both these persons have a name that is transliterated as Yang, Xiaogang. When I was establishing the authority record no2020067732, it was challenging to know whether my individual was the person identified in n 2007067816, or someone else. Once I was able to locate the name of "my" Yang Xiaogang in Chinese, it was apparent that he used different characters than the individual established in n 2007067816.
If I had had only the transliterated text in the 670 of n 2007067816 to go by, it would be very hard to know whether they were two different people or the same person.
But when the Chinese characters are present in a 400, as in these two records, even a non-Chinese-speaker can see that they are using different characters to express their names, and you can thus be more confident that you are dealing with two different people.
So my plea would be, in addition to providing context for a person through subject information, please, whenever you can, provide a cross-reference with the person's name in Chinese characters.
Saint Louis University
From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Gemberling, Ted P <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, June 15, 2020 12:56 PM
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: [External] [PCCLIST] Plea for subjects on name authority records
I wanted to make a plea to add some English-language subject information in authority records, perhaps especially for writers with East Asian names. In the Alma catalog there is an "Authority Control Task List" where we are encouraged to differentiate personal names. This morning I attempted to do that with the name Liu, An. We have a work in our catalog by this person called Design and development of an affordable telemetry system (2018). Now there are four An Liu's. Two had birth dates of 1962 and 1981, which seem possible for this author. The 1981 name doesn't seem likely because it says he (or she, not sure of the gender) was an attorney. With 1962 we have information that he or she is an author and editor. Author and editor of what?
Now, of course we can't expect catalogers to know the subject of a book if it is in Chinese. But if you are going to create an authority for an American name authority file, it is not very useful if a cataloger can't know what sorts of things the author wrote on. And actually An Liu is easier than a lot of other East Asian names. There are often many authors with the same name.
Thanks for considering this.