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German | Deutsch, Global Web Presence, Hangeul | 한글, Korean | 한국말, Mandarin | 官话, Multilingual Social Media, Russian Cyrillic | Кириллица, Russian | русский язык, Writing Systems

How to add multilingual names in Facebook (or how to be pretentiously multilingual in Facebook)

Quick answer:

Step-by-step instructions:

There are two methods to add multilingual names in Facebook:

  1. Facebook ‘language-specific names‘, which have the advantage of being searchable, and displayed to people who use Facebook in that language
  2.  ‘Alternative name’, which isn’t searchable but appears in brackets after your name so looks ‘cool’ or ‘pretentious’ depending on your point-of-view.

The screen shots below were taken by me as I added my name in Russian (Russian Cyrillic) and Chinese (traditional Chinese characters) at the end June 2012. I use Facebook as an ‘English (UK)’ language user. Facebook was accessed whilst I was in Madrid – what I’m trying to say is that different language variants of Facebook may behave differently, or as my US friends say “your mileage may vary”.

I’m not sure if you need to tell Facebook you can speak a language before you use it in ‘Alternative name’ field, but assuming you want to use a non-Latin equivalent then I had problems adding a nickname for a language I hadn’t told Facebook I could speak. When I tried to add my Korean name in Hangeul Facebook say there were too many characters.

Fail on Hangul version of Doug Lawrence 더그 로렌스

Fail on Hangul version of Doug Lawrence 더그 로렌스 perhaps because I hadn’t told Facebook I spoke Korean

So to avoid any problems I recommend you add the languages you want your name in as languages you can speak first.

Step 1: Add the languages you speak by selecting ‘Update Info’ in your Timeline profile

First choose update info on your timeline

Step 1: choose update info on your timeline

Step 2: Click the ‘Edit’ button in the ‘Basic info’ section

Second select the 'edit' button on 'Basic info'

Step 2: Select the ‘edit’ button on ‘Basic info’

Step 3: Next start typing in the language you want to say you know in the ‘language box’. Facebook will auto-suggest so choose the language you think is right – this didn’t feel right to me as it looked like I was selecting ‘pages’ about the languages but it worked nevertheless.

Step 3 Choose your language(s) in timeline basic settings

Step 3 Choose your language(s) in timeline basic settings

Step 4: Now you’ve told Facebook which language(s) you ‘know’, you can save your changes and select ‘Account Settings’ from the drop down menu next to ‘Home’.

Step 4 Select Account Settings

Step 4 Select Account Settings

Step 5: Select ‘Edit’ alongside your name

Step 5 Select edit name in account settings

Step 5 Select edit name in account settings

Step 6: Type your name(s) into the appropriate box(es) – because I told Facebook I ‘know’ Russian, Chinese and German I have boxes for Russian and Chinese.

Facebook language-specific names in General Account Settings

Facebook language-specific names in General Account Settings

Step 7a: Add your password and click ‘Save changes’, if everything is OK you will be returned to the ‘General settings’ page.

Step 7a If you're returned to the 'Accounting settings page'  congratulations your new names are probably working

Step 7a If you’re returned to the ‘General Accounting Settings page’ congratulations your new names are probably working

Step 7b: Type in your new ‘language-specific name in the Facebook search box, if your update worked then your profile should be shown in the search drop-down suggestions list. The image below shows that my Russian name was added successfully.

Step 7b Search for your new 'Language-specific name' in the Facebook search box

Step 7b Search for your new ‘Language-specific name’ in the Facebook search box

Step 8: Adding an ‘Alternative name’, this is pretty straight forward at this stage you can just type in your ‘alternate name’ in appropriate box. I was only able to type my Chinese ‘first’ name not my ‘surname’.

Step 9: Errors and workarounds

Facebook would not allow me to add my full Chinese name (which was typed, checked and confirmed as correct by a native Chinese speaker).

Facebook didn't like my Chinese name suggestion - no reason why was given

Facebook didn’t like my Chinese name suggestion – no reason why was given

Having tried various combinations I decided to add my Chinese name as an ‘alternative name’, however I was unable to add my both first name and surname.

Facebook didn't think my alternative Chinese name was real
Facebook didn’t think my alternative Chinese name was real

Facebook was, however, happy to allow my Chinese first name only as shown below

Facebook allows me to have my Chinese first name

Facebook allows me to have my Chinese first name

That’s all folks! If you’ve got this far you should now have the multilingual names wanted!

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About Doug Lawrence

I help businesses to grow internationally

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