Chinese given name

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Chinese given names (Chinese : ; pinyin :míng) are the given names adopted by speakers of the Chinese language, both in majority-Sinophone countries and among the Chinese diaspora.

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Description

Chinese given names are almost always made up of one or—usually—two characters and are written after the surname. Therefore, Wei () of the Zhang () family is called "Zhang Wei" and not "Wei Zhang". In contrast to the relative paucity of Chinese surnames, given names can theoretically include any of the Chinese language's 100,000 characters [1] and contain almost any meaning.

It is considered disrespectful in China to name a child after an older relative, and both bad practice and disadvantageous for the child's fortune to copy the names of celebrities or famous historical figures. A common name like "Liu Xiang" might be possessed by tens of thousands of people, [2] but generally they were not named for the athlete. An even stronger naming taboo was current during the time of the Chinese Empire, when other bearers of the emperor's name could be gravely punished for not having changed their name upon his ascension. Similarly, it is quite rare to see Chinese children bear the same name as their fathers the closest examples typically include small differences, such as the former Premier Li Peng's son, who is named Li Xiaopeng.

Since the Three Kingdoms era, some families have had generation names worked out long in advance, and all members (or all male members) of a generation have the same first character in their two-character given names. In other families there is a small number of generational names which are cycled through. Together, these generation names may be a poem about the hope or history of the family. This tradition has largely fallen into abeyance since the Communist victory in the Civil War; the "Tse" in Mao Tse-tung was the fourteenth generation of such a cycle, but he chose to ignore his family's generational poem to name his own sons.[ citation needed ] A similar practice was observed regarding the stage names of Chinese opera performers: all the students entering a training academy in the same year would adopt the same first character in their new "given name". For example, as part of the class entering the National Drama School in 1933, Li Yuru adopted a name with the central character "jade" (). [3]

There are also other conventions. It is frequently the case that children are given names based on gender stereotypes, with boys acquiring 'masculine' names implying strength or courage while girls receive 'feminine' names concerning beauty or flowers. Since doubled characters are considered diminutives in Chinese, many girls also receive names including a doubled pair of characters or two characters with identical pronunciation. A famous exception to this generally feminine practice is Yo-Yo Ma.

Apart from generational names, siblings' names are frequently related in other ways as well. For example, one son's name may include a character meaning "Sun" ( or ) while his sister would have the character for "Moon" () or a character including the moon radical. It is also common to split modern Chinese words which now usually consist of two characters of similar meaning both to each other and the full word among a pair of children, such as Jiankang (健康, "healthy") appearing in the children's names as -jian (, "strong") and -kang (, "healthy").

Chinese personal names can also reflect periods of history. For example, many Chinese born during the Cultural Revolution have "revolutionary names" such as Qiangguo (强国, lit. "Strong Country" or "Strengthening the Country") or Dongfeng ( , lit. "Eastern Wind"). On Taiwan, it was formerly common to incorporate one of the four characters of the name "Republic of China" (中華 民國, Zhōnghuá Mínguó) into masculine names. Patriotic names remain common but are becoming less popular 960,000 Chinese are currently named Jianguo (建国, lit. "Building the Country") but only a few thousand more are now being added each year. [4]

Within families, adults rarely refer to each other by personal names. Adult relatives and children referring to adults generally use a family title such as "Big Sister", "Second Sister", "Third Sister", and so on. It is considered rude for a child to refer to parents by their given name, and this taboo is extended to all adult relatives.

When speaking of non-family social acquaintances, people are generally referred to by a title for example, "Mister Zhang", "Mother Li" or "Chu's Wife". Personal names are used when referring to adult friends or to children and are typically spoken completely; if the given name is two characters long, it is almost never truncated. Another common way to reference someone in a friendly way is to call them "Old" (, Lǎo) or "Little" (, xiǎo) along with their surname.

Many people have a non-Chinese name (typically English) in addition to their Chinese names. For example, the Taiwanese politician Soong Chu-yu is also known as "James Soong". In Hong Kong, it is common to list the names all together, beginning with the English given name, moving on to the Chinese surname, and then ending with the Chinese given name for example, Alex Fong Chung-Sun. Among American-born and other overseas Chinese it is common practice to be referred to primarily by one's non-Chinese name, with the Chinese one relegated to alternate or middle name status. Recent immigrants, however, often use their Chinese name as their legal name and adopt a non-Chinese name for casual use only.

Proper use of pinyin romanization means treating a Chinese given name as a single word with no space between the letters of the two characters: for example, the common name 王秀英 is properly rendered either with its tone marks as Wáng Xiùyīng or without as Wang Xiuying, but should not be written as Wang Xiu Ying, Wang XiuYing, Wangxiuying, &c. The earlier Wade-Giles system accomplished the same effect by hyphenating the given name between the characters: for example, the same name would be written as Wang2 Hsiù4-Yīng1. However, many Chinese do not follow these rules, romanizing their names with a space between each. This can cause non–Chinese-speakers to incorrectly take the names as divisible.

In regions where fortune-telling is more popular, many parents may name their children on the advice of literomancers. The advice are often given based on the number of strokes of the names or the perceived elemental value of the characters in relation to the child's birth time and personal elemental value; rarely on the sound of the name as there is no system of fortune-telling based on character pronunciations. In jurisdictions where it is possible, people may also choose to change their legal given name, or their children's names, in order to improve their fortune.

Common Chinese names

As of 2007, the most common names in China were: [5] [6]

RankSurnameGiven namePinyin romanizationMeaningNumber
1 Pretty, Graceful290607
2 WěiBig, Great281568
3 FāngFragrance, Virtue268268
4 WěiBig, Great260980
5 秀英 XiùyīngOutstanding Beauty, Elegant & Brave246737
6 秀英 XiùyīngOutstanding Beauty, Elegant & Brave244637
7 [None] [7] 244223
8 秀英 XiùyīngOutstanding Beauty, Elegant & Brave236266
9 WěiBig, Great234352
10 MǐnQuick, Clever233708
11 JìngPeaceful, Tranquil232686
12 Beautiful232533
13 JìngPeaceful, Tranquil231914
14 Beautiful226724
15 QiángStrong, Better223950
16 JìngPeaceful, Tranquil221483
17 MǐnQuick, Clever213606
18 MǐnQuick, Clever213603
19 LěiMound of Rocks, Great209757
20 JūnArmy199772
21 YángOcean199642
22 YǒngBrave198720
23 YǒngBrave197859
24 YànGorgeous194371
25 JiéOutstanding, Heroic191759
26 LěiMound of Rocks, Great191065
27 QiángStrong, Better190266
28 JūnArmy189999
29 JiéOutstanding, Heroic189117
30 JuānBeautiful, Bewitching187701
31 YànGorgeous181752
32 TāoLarge Wave177993
33 TāoLarge Wave177978
34 MíngBright177898
35 YànGorgeous176676
36 ChāoOverleap, Surpass174891
37 YǒngBrave173615
38 JuānBeautiful, Bewitching171785
39 JiéOutstanding, Heroic166929
40 秀兰 XiùlánBeautiful Orchid, Elegant & Graceful166111
41 XiáRosy Clouds, Mist165189
42 MǐnQuick, Clever164133
43 JūnArmy162773
44 Beautiful162497
45 QiángStrong, Better159914
46 PíngPeaceful, Tranquil155617
47 GāngHard, Strong154600
48 JiéOutstanding, Heroic154113
49 桂英 GuìyīngLaurel & Beautiful, Brave153218
50 FāngFragrance, Virtue152189

See also

Related Research Articles

Chinese surnames are used by Han Chinese and Sinicized ethnic groups in China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, and among overseas Chinese communities around the world such as Singapore and Malaysia. Chinese surnames are given first for names written in Chinese, which is the opposite of Western naming convention where surnames come last. Around 2,000 Han Chinese surnames are currently in use, but the great proportion of Han Chinese people use only a relatively small number of these surnames; 19 surnames are used by around half of the Han Chinese people, while 100 surnames are used by around 87% of the population. A report in 2019 gives the most common Chinese surnames as Wang and Li, each shared by over 100 million people in China, with Zhang, Liu, Chen, Yang, Huang, Zhao, Wu and Zhou making up the rest of the ten most common Chinese names.

Wang (surname) Surname list

Wang is the pinyin romanization of the common Chinese surnames (Wáng) and (Wāng). It is currently the most common surname in mainland China, as well as one of the most common surnames in the world, with more than 100 million worldwide.

Chinese personal names are names used by those from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and other parts of the Chinese-speaking world such as Singapore. Due to China's historical dominance in East Asia and Vietnam, many names used in Korea and Vietnam are adaptations of Chinese names or have historical roots in Chinese, with appropriate adaptation to accommodate linguistic differences.

Zhang (surname) Surname list

Zhang is third most common surname in China and one of the most common surnames in the world. Zhang is the pinyin romanization of the very common Chinese surname written in simplified characters and in traditional characters. It is spoken in the first tone: Zhāng. It is a surname that exists in many languages and cultures, corresponding to the surname 'Archer' in English for example. Chang is the Wade-Giles romanization; Cheung is commonly used in Hong Kong as romanization.

Lu is the pinyin and Wade–Giles romanization of several distinct Chinese surnames that are written with different characters in Chinese. Depending on the character, it may be spelled , , or when pinyin tone diacritics are used. Lu 卢 and Lu 陆 are the most common: both are among the 100 most common surnames in China. Languages using the Latin alphabet do not distinguish among the different Chinese surnames, rendering them all as Lu.

Chang (surname) Surname list

Chang is the pinyin romanization of the Chinese surname 常 (Cháng). It was listed 80th among the Song-era Hundred Family Surnames.

Zhuang (surname) Surname list

Zhuang is the pinyin romanization of the Chinese surname written 庄 in simplified character and 莊 in traditional character. It is spoken in the first tone: Zhuāng.

The Beijing Wushu Team is a world-renowned wushu team from Beijing, China. The team has produced many famous international stars such as Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Hao Zhihua, Huang Qiuyan, Zhang Hongmei and Wu Jing. The Beijing team members also work with movie producers to make films. Aside from Jet Li, many other athletes have also been featured in movies Every year, the Beijing Team performs demonstrations of wushu for the citizens of Beijing as well as visiting dignitaries. They have performed for former US President Jimmy Carter as well as many other foreign heads of state when they visited Beijing.

Dai (surname) Surname list

Dai is the pinyin romanization of the Chinese surname written with the Chinese character 戴. It is romanized as Tai in Wade-Giles and in Hong Kong Government Cantonese Romanisation. Dai is the 96th most common surname in China, according to a report on the household registrations released by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security on April 24, 2007.

Lü (surname) Surname list

is the pinyin and Wade–Giles romanisation of the Chinese surname written 吕 in simplified character and 呂 in traditional character. It is the 47th most common surname in China, shared by 5.6 million people, or 0.47% of the Chinese population as of 2002. It is especially common in Shandong and Henan provinces.

Lí (surname 黎)

is a Chinese surname. It is most common in Central and South China where it is transliterated as Lai or Lye, and is one of the four most common surnames among ethnic Vietnamese people, which in the Vietnamese language is Lê. It is listed 262nd in the Song Dynasty classic Hundred Family Surnames.

Li (surname 理)

(理) is a Chinese surname. In Mandarin it is pronounced with the dipped third tone of the four tones.

Naming laws in China are based on technical capability rather than the appropriateness of words. Although it is advised for parents to name their children so that others are able to easily read their names, there are no restrictions on the complexity of Chinese characters used, provided that there are no technical issues in doing so. The use of Simplified characters is advised over Traditional Chinese characters; however, this is not strictly enforced.

Li (surname 厲)

is the pinyin romanization of the Chinese surname written 厲 in traditional character and 厉 in simplified character. It is also spelled Lai according to the Cantonese pronunciation. It is listed 247th in the Song Dynasty classic text Hundred Family Surnames.

Li (surname 栗)

is the pinyin romanization of the Chinese surname written 栗 in Chinese character. It is also spelled Leut according to the Cantonese pronunciation. Relatively uncommon, it is not listed in the Song Dynasty classic Hundred Family Surnames.

Li (surname 李) Lee #Li

Li is the second most common surname in China as of 2018, behind Wang. It is one of the most common surnames in the world, shared by 92.76 million people in China, and more than 100 million worldwide. It is the fourth name listed in the Song dynasty classic text Hundred Family Surnames.

Lu (surname 盧) Chinese surname with character 卢/盧 (pinyin: Lú)

is the pinyin romanization of the Chinese surname written 卢 in simplified character and 盧 in traditional character. It is also spelled Lo or Loh according to the Cantonese pronunciation. Lu 卢 is the 52nd most common surname in China, shared by 5.6 million people, or 0.475% of the Chinese population as of 2002. It is especially common in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, and Hebei provinces. Lu 卢 is listed 167th in the Song Dynasty classic text Hundred Family Surnames.

Ji (surname 籍)

is the Mandarin pinyin romanization of the Chinese surname written 籍 in Chinese character. It is romanized as Chi in Wade–Giles, and Zik in Cantonese. Ji is listed 275th in the Song dynasty classic text Hundred Family Surnames. It is not among the 300 most common surnames in China.

Ai (surname) Surname list

Ai is the Mandarin pinyin and Wade–Giles romanization of the Chinese surname written 艾 in Chinese character. It is listed 334th in the Song dynasty classic text Hundred Family Surnames. As of 2008, it is the 215th most common surname in China, shared by 400,000 people.

References

  1. The 2004 Taiwanese Ministry of Education Dictionary of Chinese Variant Form compiled 106,230.
  2. 法制晚报(北京). Op. cit. 163.com. "中国1.8万多人姓名为刘翔,叫刘德华的人逾1.6万". 15 Oct 2007. Accessed 17 Mar 2012. (in Chinese)
  3. Li Ruru (2010b), "2010 Commemorations of the Theatrical Careers of Cao Yu and Li Yuru" (PDF), CHINOPERL Papers , No. 29, Conference on Chinese Oral and Performing Literature, p. 225.
  4. Xinhua Net. "". Oct 2007. Accessed 17 Mar 2012. (in Chinese)
  5. Beijing News. "中国重名最多50姓名“出炉” Archived 2007-09-14 at the Wayback Machine " 26 Jul 2007. Accessed 17 Mar 2012. (in Chinese)
  6. 69FW. "在中国重名最多的姓名 Archived 2012-07-07 at the Wayback Machine ". 10 Mar 2012. Accessed 17 Mar 2012. (in Chinese)
  7. itself is merely phonetic, although the same character pronounced as nuó forms a part of the words for "lithe", "graceful", and "willowy".