How do Chinese names work 1

Chinese names - Everything about names in China

1. Chinese names - what's the story behind them?

2. Chinese names - what do they mean?

3. Chinese names - do you change the name after the wedding?

4. Chinese Names - 5 Ideas On How To Find Your Own Chinese Name

5. Chinese first names for boys

6. Chinese first names for girls

Chinese names usually sound a bit unusual to western ears. Most of the time, it is particularly problematic if you read a Chinese text and do not immediately recognize which characters stand for a person's name. Fortunately, many Chinese have one too English namethat you choose yourself or get at school.

Choose your own name? In this blog we give you tips on how to find a Chinese name for yourself that you can use in China!

Our teacher Dannie - and no, of course that is not her Chinese name ..

Many foreigners find it difficult to remember Chinese names. They often look quite complex at first glance.

That is probably also the reason why many very famous Chinese have “stage names” that do not correspond to their actual Chinese names.

Prominent examples are Jackie Chan and Jet Lee. Sorry to disappoint you, these are not their real Chinese names!

What is the chinese name of Jackie Chan?

Jackie Chan and Jet Lee's real names are Chéng Lóng (成龙) and Lǐ Liánjié (李连杰).

Jack Ma's Chinese name is Mǎ Yún 马云

Many famous Chinese, for example actors or businessmen, use an English or a mixed English / Chinese name in order to become better known internationally. The founder of the Alibaba Group is usually only called Jack Ma in China. Its Chinese name is actually Mǎ Yún 马云.

The best thing to do is to simply ask a Chinese person whether he or she also has an English name.

However, some Chinese now prefer to use their Chinese name exclusively. That makes it a little more difficult for foreigners, but it is understandable. In China, names are not just given randomly. but always have a meaning.

Meaning of Chinese names:

Chinese names are full symbolic meaning and parents spend a lot of time naming their child appropriately. Instead of simply choosing a name that sounds nice, names of characteristics or nature are usually chosen as first names.

The Chinese naming has a centuries-old tradition and is therefore an integral part of Chinese culture.

1. Chinese names - what's the story behind them?

First of all, one important thing: when the Chinese introduce themselves, they say their family name first and then their first name. If we come back to Jackie Chan (Chéng Lóng) - Cheng is his last name and Long is his first name.

Swap the place of your first and last name and you have the order for a Chinese name.

Jackie Chan's Chinese name is 成龙

In Chinese culture, surnames are considered more valuable and are therefore put in front of the first name. As with us, the family name is passed on from generation to generation and that is a tradition that the Chinese are proud of. A Chinese surname usually consists of one character (more rarely two or three).

At the very beginning of Chinese history, only important people had family names. Only gradually did ordinary Chinese get their own surname. As with us, many surnames refer to the occupation of the ancestors (e.g. Müller).

On the other hand, it is somewhat more unusual that many Chinese not only have one name, but also change names in the course of their lives.

At birth, the parents give their child a real first name and a kind of nickname ("little name, 小名"). The “little name” is mostly used during the first few years of life.

When the child starts school, it receives a "School names” (学名). After graduation, either the actual first name or a "big name” (大名 / 名) is used. Besides, it is popular in China to be a pseudonym () as a name.

2. Chinese names - what do they mean?

The name of the legendary Chinese warrior Mu Lan means "magnolia"

Nowadays, names are almost exclusively given with a positive meaning. Chinese girls' names are often associated with flowers, beauty, or purity. Chinese names for boys are mostly associated with power, natural phenomena, and strength.

A long time ago it was said that names with a negative meaning could drive away evil spirits.

Pretty interesting, isn't it?

Gou Sheng (dog poop) and Te Dan (iron egg) are just two examples!

It is also a tradition in many families to see a seer or a witch before the child is born. There the parents try to find out which fate is predetermined for their child and give the child an appropriate name.

For example, if the seer or the witch sees a threat to the child, the child is given a Chinese name, the meaning of which is in contrast to that threat. If the child is threatened with a fateful experience with fire, for example a fire, one looks for a name that is associated with water.

It often happens that parents give their child a “little name”. This nickname usually refers to the actual first name.

For example, if the child is called Ma Yang, the “little name” is Yang-Yang.

3. Chinese names -Do you change the name after the wedding?

Finding a suitable Chinese name is not that easy!

In most countries around the world, people change their surnames after they get married. With the exception of China.

Then how does it work?

In most cases, the bride keeps her last name. But it also happens that the woman takes on a double name. However, the children only bear the father's surname.

In China, most people keep their original surname even after they get married because of the great importance attached to the name. Many surnames provide information about the origin of the person and their ancestors.

Huang Helou (黄鹤楼) is a name for girls and is derived from the name of the famous Yellow Tower in Wuhan, a city in Hubei Province.

Did you know…

The 100 most common surnames in China are worn by 85% of the Chinese population!

The most common Chinese surnames

There are around 1200 Chinese surnames in total.

The most common areLi (李), Wang (王), Zhang (张). 5000 of the 12000 surnames consist of one character, the rest consists of two to eight Chinese characters. And there is a Chinese surname made up of nine characters!

Chinese first names and surnames play a big role in the culture of China. A good example of this is a video made by Chinese students at Columbia University in New York. The video “Say my name” already has 19,000 clicks and speaks out against discrimination against Chinese names.

4. ChineseNames - 5 Ideas On How To Find Your Own Chinese Name

Find a name that sounds similar to your real name.
But that doesn't work in all cases. Also, check with a Chinese friend or teacher beforehand what your name means.

Choose one of the standard names.
There are standard Chinese translations for common, mostly English, given names. For example, the Chinese name Amy is 艾美 ài měi, David is 大卫 dà wèi.

Choose a real Chinese first name.
Search the internet for a list of Chinese first names and pick the name that you like best.

Here are the most common family names that you can choose from:

  • Wang (王)
  • Li (李)
  • Zhang (张)
  • Liu (刘)
  • Chen (陈)
  • Yang (杨)
  • Huang (黄)
  • Zhao (赵)
  • Wu (吴)
  • Zhou (周)

Pick a Chinese name whose characters you like and which you can also write.
It is important that you can recognize, read and, ideally, write your Chinese name. So the characters of your Chinese name shouldn't be too difficult.

Ask a Chinese friend or teacher for help.
If you don't have any ideas for your name, ask a Chinese friend or teacher, they will definitely be able to help you.

5. Chinese first names for boys

These are the top five Chinese boy names:

伟 祺 Wěi qí - That means “happy” and “promising”.

念 真 Niàn zhēn - This is the name of a famous Taiwanese writer. The name means “read the truth”.

鸿涛 Hóng tāo - The hóng in this name means “flourish, flourish, flourish”.

苑 博 Yuàn bó - The bó in this Chinese given name stands for “learn” or “scholar”.

明杰 Míng jié - This name means “wise and excellent”.

6. Chinese first names for girls

These are the top five Chinese girl names:

徽 因 Huī yīn - This Chinese name sounds very nice. It is also the first name of a famous Chinese architect and poet.

书 兰 Shū lán - The shū in this name means “book”, lán translates as “orchid”.

海云 Hǎi yún - This Chinese girl's name makes you think of a great landscape. Hǎi stands for the sea and yún for the clouds.

平安 Píng’ān - This name translates as “peace”.

雅琴 Yǎ qín - Yǎ means “elegant” and qín is a traditional Chinese instrument. This name says that the person is creative and graceful.

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