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Not Dentists named Dennis, but Physicists named Li studying Li

Charles Jackson writes:

I was spurred to do this search by reading an article in the 30 Mar 2018 issue of Science. The article was:

Self-heating–induced healing of lithium dendrites​ by Lu Li et al.

Wikipedia says that more than 93 million people in China have the surname Li.

I found 62 articles on Lithium with authors named Li from one publisher. From the search function on the AAAS website with my annotations:

As the saying goes, further research is needed.


  1. Daniel Vassilev says:

    Chinese has 4 distinct tones for each vowel and words constructed with the same vowel and different tone are generally not related in meaning. So, it’s really 4 distinct Li’s in Chinese that get projected onto a lower dimensional space spanned by the standard Latin alphabet. Still a lot of people though…

    • Yuling says:

      Such lower dimensional mapping is complicated as some people translate their surnames differently. So Li, Lee, Lei, and Lie corresponds to the same character, according to Wikipedia. This is the moment when one hesitates to support subjective priors.

    • Lai Ka Yau says:

      Well, it’s a tad more complicated than that. Multiple characters can have the same pronunciation, and just because a syllable exists doesn’t mean a surname exists with that pronunciation. If Wikipedia’s list is exhaustive, there are 4 surnames with Li in the fourth tone, two in the third tone (including the most common Li), and one on the second tone (I’ve never heard of three of those though). Mine is the one in the second tone, but my name is in Cantonese, so it’s written in the Cantonese pronunciation Lai.

  2. someone says:

    In the past, there have been moves to allow authors to include the Chinese characters in their names.

    I just did a web search and found e.g. this:

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