Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chinese Names

Chinese names.

What is to be considered a good Chinese name?

Simple, straight-forward? Abstract, complicated?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

About Chinese Names

Chinese names represent more than an identity to differentiate one individual from another. Chinese names very often actually represent the hopes or aspirations of the grand-father, father, mother or any other elderly relative who is given the honour to name the newborn child. Chinese names tend to contain meaningful words that represent the kind of good values or virtues that the person who named the child hoped that one day the later will grow up possessing those valuable characters.

To name a child with the "right" name takes skill. Experience will also come in handy. A good grasp, command and understanding of the Chinese language is definitely essential. Oh, btw, any knowledge of the history of China, Chinese culture and traditions will also be valuable and helpful. It is more than an art ... it is also a science :)

Ever wonder why these terms are so commonly found in Chinese names:

  • Qiang2 (often spelt differently as Kiong, etc.) - Strong
  • Mei3 (often spelt differently as May, Mee, etc.) - Beautiful
  • Zhong (often spelt differently as Chong, etc.) - Loyalty
  • De2 (often spelt differently as Teck, Tak, Te, etc.) - Virtue
  • Hui4 (often spelt differently as Hwee, etc.) - Wisdom
  • Cai2 (often spelt differently as Chai, Choi, etc.) - Wealth
  • Fu2 (often spelt differently as Hock, Fock, etc.) - Blessings
  • Jing4 (often spelt differently as Chin, Cing, etc.) - Quietness, Serenity
  • Wen2 (often spelt differently as Man, Boon, etc.) - Language, Literature
  • Liang2 (often spelt differently as Leong, etc.) - Good, Kind
  • Yu4 (often spelt differently as Yoke, Gek, etc.) - Jade
  • Yun2 (often spelt differently as Wan, Hoon, etc.) - Cloud
  • Wei3 (often spelt differently as Wai, etc.) - Great
  • Jia (often spelt differently as Kah, Keh, etc.) - Home, Family
  • Long2 (often spelt differently as Loong, Lung, Leng, etc.) - Dragon
  • Feng4 (often spelt differently as Fung, Fong, Hong, etc.) - Phoenix
  • Hu3 (often spelt differently as Hou, Fu, etc.) - Tiger

Chinese names can come in 1 or 2-word formats. In China, it is common to have 1-word names, for example the famous Chinese actress, "Gong Li" (Gong is the surname, and Li is the name) and badminton star, "Yang Yang" (Yang is the surname, Yang is the name). Even for 2-word surnames, it is also common to have 1-word names, for example, "Sima Guang" (Sima is the surname, and Guang is the name).

On the other hand, in China and especially other parts of the world like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, etc., most Chinese names tend to follow the 2-word format. For example:

  • Chen Hui Mei (Chen is the surname, Hui Mei is the given name)
  • Zhao Jian Hua (Zhao is the surname, Jian Hua is the given name)
  • Li Lian Jie (Li is the surname, Lian Jie is the given name)
  • Zhang Zi Yi (Zhang is the surname, Zi Yi is the given name)

Chinese names tend to put the SURNAME (family name, clan name, last name) in front followed by the individual's given name at the back, hence LIN Guo-Zhong or ZHANG Hui-Yu. But to avoid confusion, many Chinese who went overseas, for example to the United States of America (USA), they will put their name as such: "Guo-Zhong, Lin" or "Hui-Yu, Zhang". In actual reality, the Chinese tend to prefer their surname in front as it represents their family and clan.

As you might have noticed, the Chinese do not have "middle names". So, for "Lin Guo Zhong", "Lin" is the surname / family-name, and "Guo Zhong" is the individual's given name.