Talk:Chinese name

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2 or 3 characters[edit]

math> 3 characters, and thus, most Chinese names consist of 3 characters.

In the last 30+ years, giving children one-character names has been very popular in mainland China. I'm not sure about the exact percentages and numbers, but it is quite obvious. About 6 in 10 mainland people I know that are 30 and below have two-character names (one character surname-one character given). "Overseas" Chinese (inc. HK, Macau Taiwan) have not really experienced this phenomenon. Have a look at names of older Chinese, such as politicans, and compare them to young Chinese, such as Olympic athletes. You'll notice a stark comparison. It seems to harken back to the age of the Han dynasty and before when it was the norm for Chinese to have one-character personal names. Personally, I think it should be the other way. Use of longer names with three or more characters in the personal name and/or surnames with two or more characters is the definite way to go. A few interesting suggestions: 13:22, 4 September 2005 (UTC)
One-character given names are very common in China. I don't think this is a good thing from a practical point of view. There must be 100,000s of people with exactly the same (full, written) name and many more with names which sound the same (but different characters). LDHan 08:52, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
You're both exaggerating. It's fewer than 1 in 7 people. — LlywelynII 13:25, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
it's convention like it says in the article. A common belief is that with the Cultural Revolution and how most parents of the time weren't educated passed even a middle school level so when it came time for them to name their kids one of two things happened either they chose a common one character name or they went with some pro-PRC kinda name like 建国. Aristocratic or families with a greater education usually choose two character names to keep a generation name and an individual name. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:09, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Alternate variation[edit]

In the United States at least, many Chinese seem to use a variation not mentioned here: Using both a Chinese (not Western) given name and their Chinese surname, but in the western order. --Delirium 06:08, August 27, 2005 (UTC)

Similar patterns seem to exist in several places influenced by Western culture (e.g. Hongkong, Taiwan, etc). -Dpr 07:44, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
Not true. I live in Taiwan and my English name on my passport is following the pattern of surname-given name. -- G.S.K.Lee 05:54, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
Well, there's at least a few people who do that, but do you have any reliable sources? — LlywelynII 13:25, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Adressing people[edit]

The article says:

"Note that because old people are well respected in Chinese society, lao (old) does not carry disrespect, offense or any negative implications even if it's used to refer to an older woman."

A professor of mine has stated something similar. However I tried this with a friend from Mainland China and was told in a very agitated manner that I shouldn't do this, you can only do this with men. What exactly are social connotations of 老? -anonymous

I've edited the article to go into this more deeply, but the long and the short of it is, xiao and lao are both relatively regional (much more common in the north than in the south) and further are generally not constructed on the spot by a stranger (as mister or mrs might be used in English) but are rather established nicknames. As such, you're best off never using these unless other people are using them. This rule is advisable even for Chinese, because, as I said, these habits are very regional and may be different in unexpected ways from the place you grew up in.
Personally, when I hear lao-so-and-so my brain seems to assume that they are male, and while I can find no specific objection to the prefix being used to show respect to a particularly old woman, I must admit that I would never do this and that I have never heard anyone else do this. YMMV... 02:44, 25 February 2007 (UTC)
They're women. Of course they don't appreciate being called old, dummy. That's a cross-cultural truism. =) — LlywelynII 13:25, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

"Limited supply[edit]

With a limited supply of family names, Chinese depend on using given names to introduce variety in naming.'

In what culture is the "supply" of family names not "limited"...or in fact does the range of family names influence at all the choice of given names in any culture? Logically speaking, individuals do not choose their own or their children's family names anyway (except in rare circumstances). --Dpr 07:44, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree. Or, to put it another way, "You're from Ireland? Wow, do you know Patrick Kelly?" HouseOfScandal 18:36, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
I have no idea what you're on about, but the tone of that sentence is awful anyway. Simply rewrote the article. — LlywelynII 13:25, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
Plus its wrong anyway. Having a greater variety of given names never had anything to do with the surname. if that was so then there wouldn't be so many like named people these days. 彬彬 is one of the common examples. Another is 伟. The reason names are varied also doesn't have to do with being varied at all. It really has nothing to do with being common or uncommon like names are common in the west while surnames are more varied. Chinese names are given based on what aspirations the parents or grandparents have for the child. Choosing names for strength or power was good for a boy because typically a boy was expected to become strong and powerful. In a rural sense it makes him more useful in his future labors. In a urban sense it hopes that he'll rise in power or wealth and have a prosperous adulthood. Similar reasoning applies to girls and names using characters for beauty, grace, tranquility, etc Besides this a name could signify something about the child's birth or circumstance. Single character names also take this into account but are more limited. It is because of the purpose of the name that Chinese names might be more varied than given names in the west.

A fun fact: Because names come from the aspirations of parents there are a few common trends in naming depending on the region. For example 宏 hong is a very common character used in boy names in the Canton region. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:26, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Question: flexibility[edit]

Is Chinese culture nearly unique in the world to have a system of name-selection which is almost infinitely variable where few people, including famous people, will ever be encountered with the same name? I.e. Muhammeds amount in ME culture; Johns, Williams, etc etc in the West; Japanese names are not as flexible as Chinese names, right? (e.g. Miko, Keiko, at least for females seem to be fixed). I hope my question is worded clearly. Thanks --Dpr 07:44, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Probably not. Many Native American cultures also seem to have names that are unique per individual. --Yuje 08:54, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
Good point. Nonetheless, I think it's fair to say that numerically, among cultures of the world, this practice is rare. Thanks. --Dpr 04:39, 16 September 2005 (UTC)
Not really.
1) Though there is a large amount of Chinese characters out there, true, but modern Chinese given names often use a limited range of characters with inherent good meaning with them, and obsolete characters are seldom put into use. Furthermore there are some character combinations very popular for names in each region of China, and there indeed are people who have exact the same surname+given name with important figures.
2) The same phenomenon can also be seen in Japan, that is, some character combinations are just very popular among people when it comes to naming their babies. But with the majority of Japanese surname have 2 characters, people with exact the same full name are less in Japan. -- G.S.K.Lee 06:19, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
I guess it should be highlighted that the practice is common in East Asia (including also Vietnamese if I'm not mistaken), and among some indigenous cultures, but among Latin Americans, North Americans, Eastern and Western Europeans (including Russia), Australia, and (I'm pretty sure), the Middle East-Southwest Asia, it's historically almost unheard of to create your own name for your child. Yes, it is a growing trend today in the West, admittedly. Which side of the divide does Africa fall on mostly? --Dpr 09:17, 9 October 2005 (UTC)
Vietnamese and Koreans, for the most part, actually have Chinese names, from the surnames to the way that personal names are given. Japan is much more similar to the West in that there seems to be a commonly-used set of personal names, and a near undeterminable number of surnames in existence. 12:13, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
"Japan is much more similar to the West in that there seems to be a commonly-used set of personal names."
I disagree with this part. It is not that much. -- G.S.K.Lee 03:42, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
Actually, Japan is much stricter with naming than the West: they have an officially-approved list of names. Read this: Jinmeiyo_kanji. --wkerney 1:27, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
I think there are several issues here. With two character generational names it is much more unlikely you will get two people with the same name. But this isn't just applicable to the Chinese. When you have 3 parts of your name you will have far less coincidence. There might be a lot of William Gates but there are far fewer William Henry Gateses. I used this example to illustrate another fact. Unlike a number of culture, the Americans for example, the Chinese don't give their children the same names as them (however it isn't that common among the English either except perhaps among the royalty). Finally another reason why you find far fewer coincidences of Chinese names in the English speaking world is because of romanisation differences. Until recently, most romanisation has been fairly variable. E.g. uou have Li, Lee etc for the surname. Frequently these are the same character but the romanisation is different. You might have a Li Mei Hui and a Lee May Hooi. These could both be the same name when written and spoken in Mandarin or whatever but they will obviously not appear the same if you do a search in English. Nil Einne 19:03, 1 April 2006 (UTC)
Taking both single character names and modern post-PRC names into account, Chinese names are much more repetitive just like the example of Liu Xiang. Aside from this Chinese names can be as varied as there are combinations of two characters. Names that fall into this category are greatly varied and a single person even with a common surname like Li will still never have a recurring name. ie: there is only one 毛泽东 in the world but there might be hundreds of 张宏 and 李强国. Also consider that a single Chinese person born pre-PRC could have had upwards of five names from birth name to posthumous name. Modern writers, actors, singers may also and commonly do create "pennames" in the same fashion. Jackie Chan 成龙 is a notable example.
Japan has a strict list of acceptable characters for names but there are still some uncommon names based on the same Chinese tradition of name creation. The strict guidelines are very modern after all. Also consider that the same two Chinese characters may be read in a number of combinations through Japanese kun'yomi, on'yomi, and totally new readings based on the parent. Japanese phone books typically use furigana to spell out the name as a result.
In the west it never really became popular to make up a strange name for a child. Naming a child with an original name is usually ridiculed. For example, in the sitcom Friends when Rachel proposes the name Rain for Emma Geller-Green Ross laughs about it. Shiloh Jolie-Pitt was used as an example to ridicule celebrities for giving their children unconventional names. I think it has to do with naming tradition. Chinese names all mean something. Western names do have meaning to them but mostly this is forgotten. Naming a child George has nothing to do with the child ever becoming or relating to being a farmer for example. I make the assumption most wouldn't even know that this is the name's definition. However naming a child 大牛 most likely comes from a rural family that hopes this child will be strong for physical labor. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:53, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Ah (阿)[edit]

I don't think this is confined to Hokkien or Cantonese speaking areas only. I'm pretty sure it's the case all over China

Corrected. There are countless ahs all over China. :D--Huaiwei 01:38, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
"Ah" is more common in the south. much less so in the north. add "xiao" or repetition is more common in the north. 15:14, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
The prefix is not a diminutive constructor, but the opposite, when you consider the etymology. So the prefix in 阿明 is in a sense similar to the in 老王. While can be attached to either the family name or (part of) the given name (小王, 小明), is more often used with family names and more often with given names. Y. R. Chao discusses the prefixes , , and on pp. 216–7 in A Grammar of Spoken Chinese, and notes that
"In Cantonese the prefix ah- is used with monosyllabic surnames with the same effect as prefixing lao-, as 亞王 Ah* Woang = Mandarin 老王 Lao Wang."
Footnote *: "The character commonly used in Mandarin and Wu-dialect texts for this prefix is pronounced o in Cantonese. The usual character for this prefix in Cantonese texts is , which would be yah in Mandarin, as in 亞細亞 'Asia'."
I hope this helps clarify things a little. — Ydw (talk) 16:29, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Diminutives with 仔 and 子[edit]

I think that the characters and may also be used as suffixes to form diminutive nicknames, albeit apparently less commonly used than , but I have not done research on this. Ydw (talk) 03:08, 22 December 2010 (UTC)

Works in Japanese, but in China the second one is more likely to make you look like an old master. — LlywelynII 13:25, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
Untrue that only applies to past figures. Modern uses for 子 are similar to Japan but usually are reserved for nicknames not involving the given name. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:56, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

阿 is also an official middle name[edit]

Mention that at least in Taiwan, 阿 can be found as the middle name on ID cards, not just a nickname. Mainly older people though. --User:Jidanni 2006-07-09

But what do you think "middle name" means in this context? — LlywelynII 13:25, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Yao Ming examples[edit]

I've attempted to clarify the name-order discussion in the first couple of paragraphs by using further examples based on Yao Ming's name, but I've resorted to giving him the fictional Western "first" name Fred in the two final examples. I'm not sure of the easiest way to indicate that he's not really named Fred (a peril of mixing real and fictitious examples, I guess).

If I've actually misunderstood and the examples are incorrect, I invite corrections. —Eric S. Smith 15:35, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Better to avoid it. — LlywelynII 13:25, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Western names[edit]

How do the Chinese figure out their "Western" name? Choice or something else? I've never been able to figure this out and the article doesn't explain it. -RomeW

Normally people just simply choose the one they like from those common names flying around, etc. John, Paul, Anna, blah-blah, whatever, and make it their own names. In rare instances, for example, me, you can find people with unique names, with each name probably has its own story behind. -- G.S.K.Lee 21:53, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
People usaully older people don't choose a western name at all, though some chose a name that is easy for them to pronounce. --Johanna451940 01:49, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
I live in Taiwan and I am jealous of the freedom that the younger Taiwanese have in chosing their Western name. It can be practically anything. In my wife's company, I know a guy named Water, a guy named Cash, and a guy who uses the name of a video game character. ---Taiwan On 08:30, 17 April 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
This is the same as a westerner asking what his name is in Chinese. Since the naming conventions are completely different between European and Han names, this is impossible. A person simply romanizes the Chinese name or transliterates the western name. That's why modern Chinese usually adopt a western name they choose themselves. If they really tried to translate the name into a western text, Yao Ming would end up being Bright Yao. LOL In the same light my name (I picked the name Jeffrey) would be instead Construct Powerful Chang. LOL — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:27, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

multiple names[edit]

i want to know more about how chinese have multiple names. theyll have a name they were born with. then they give themselves a name. their mum gives them a name. their dad gives them a name. they have honourary names, style name, courtesy name, Posthumous name, actual name, and like 5 different names by the time they die.

As far as I know, when one is born, his/her father gives him/her a given name. Along with the family name, that's his/her name. When he reaches 20 years old (educated men only), or when she is getting married (educated only, rare), he/she gives himself/herself a name, called Zi or Biaozi, which often has some meanting related to his/her given name. Not like in a western country people call each other's firsname a lot, Chinese people do not do that in most case, except really close friends or family member. Instead, they can use just the Zi to call eath other. And to use Zi, instead of to use the given name, is a way to pay repection. In addition, some people (really educted ones) give themselves some Hao, like The Resident of Blahblah (usually the name of his study room, like Wind Whisper Room), or The Lord of Rings(just kidding). One may have a lot of Hao, while most people do not have any Hao. After a man died, only if he was an emperor or someone with a lot of power, he might get a Yihao, usually describing his whole life, like The King of Weakness, or The Emperor of Conquer.
In summary, Family name and given name, Zi for educated ones, Hao for people who want to show off, and Yihao for died emperors. Not too many.
Today, most Chinese have only the family name and given name, and more and more people in big cities are having westernized names. Of course, writers always have pennames, but that's a different story.--Mongol 20:41, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

Fred Yao Ming[edit]

I've never known anyone have a name like that: Westernized name, family name, then given name. I am only aware of usages of Ming Yao, Fred Yao, Fred Ming Yao, Ming Fred Yao, or Yao Ming. Can anyone give an example of a name like Fred Yao Ming? Otherwise, probably I will have that line changed. --Mongol 20:20, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

Never mind, I got the answer: this is a Hong Kong usage.--Mongol 20:51, 5 October 2006 (UTC)
Westernized name, family name, the given name, is quite common in Singapore. The only thing is that this full structure seldom used when addressing someone casually. For example, it is common for someone to register his name as "John Lim Guan Heng", when "John" is the westernized name, "Lim" is the surname (family name), and "Guan Heng" is the given name. However, the casual and popular way to call out to this person is by using "John" or "John Lim", rather than "John Lim Guan Heng". This is similar to how in the west people would usually use "Hello, John" instead of "Hello, John Edward Smith". However, Surname - Given Name - Westernized name usage is very rare in Singapore. So I will edit that part in the main article. Atticuslai (talk) 06:41, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

He's not Henry...he's my brother[edit]

I note that the text reads "For instance, referring to Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as Hsien or Hsien Lee would be confusing as this could just as easily refer to his brother." How is this essenrially different from referring to (for example) Henry Jones as "Jones" when this could just as easily refer to his brothers, sisters, children, cousins, etc. ? HouseOfScandal 18:38, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

I think the point is that Hsien or Hsien Lee is only half the given name which is actually Hsien Loong, and Hsien or Hsien Lee would only be used by somone not familiar with Chinese names. The difference is such a person would think Hsien is the given name and the Loong as a middle name. LDHan 19:42, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
It was badly worded from the beginning. — LlywelynII 13:25, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Is it possible to determine a person's sex by their chinese name?[edit]

Are there names that are typically male or female or unisex? (I expect there are) Is there a list of such names available? — —Preceding unsigned comment added by Vaios (talkcontribs) 13:16, 3 November 2006

Since Chinese given names are made up character by character, there are virtually unlimited

combinations of names however, typically female names use\ certain characters that appears more feminine, and vice versa yet this is not always so, some very traditional families would give their daughters quite masculine names, hoping that their next child would be a boy. with the romanization or the pinyin, it is nearly impossible for foreigners to tell the difference between names — —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:00, 15 February 2007

In general it is not possible to determine a person's gender from his or her Chinese name. The following apparently feminine names are actually names of famous Chinese men: 梅蘭芳, 陳其美 (陳英士), 林毓蓉 (林彪). It is also common to find females with gender-neutral or even masculine names. In my own family, two distant relatives (a male and a female) actually have the same name by coincidence: the family name, their generation name, and their register names (which is of the radical group) are all identical.
Perhaps only if the name contains feminine characters of the radical group, such as 嬌娟妮姍娜婷, can one be more certain that the person is female. Note, however, that the characters and , even though they belong to the radical group, are used in both male and female names. — Ydw (talk) 23:38, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
is another charcter in the radical group that is gender neutral and used in male names (e.g., 李安, 王安, 陳履安) and female names. — Ydw (talk) 05:22, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
In short, not really. There's a lot of unisex names and a few boys or a few girls might use any supposedly "sexed" name. On the other hand, there are a few stand-outs: all the Meis will tend to be female and Yehao and Laidi will pretty much only be girls. — LlywelynII 13:25, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
If taken from an outsider view yeh chinese names are all neutral but if you're familiar with Chinese names and naming traditions you can guess a name's gender. Most names have a telltale character that will point out the person's gender in much the same way as it is in the west. For instance Paulette is obviously a girl's name because of the -ette. Jacques is definite male name and Susan is a definite female name. Hard characters (龙,强,牛) are usually used for men while soft characters (美,珍,静) are used for women. The true neutral name problem comes from softer characters like 文, 敏, or 红. This is a big problem for one character names as in two character names these characters will be likely used as generation names. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:23, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

This page does not account for chinese middle name[edit]

The chinese (at least here in malaysia) order their name as: <family> <middle> <first>

For instance, my wife's chinese name is: "Lai Sin Ho"; 'Lai' is the family name, 'Sin' is her middle given name, and 'Ho' is her main given name.

I understand also that many chinese do NOT have middle name, but this is NOT always the case.

That's a misunderstanding by those unfamiliar with asian culture. there is a vietnamese dude I know who does the same thing. In your wife's case, "Sin Ho" is the formal form of her first name. either the first or the second character, can be used as a pet name by the family, so those unfamiliar with their culture take it as a "main" first name. The family may also use some variations of this as a petname, like "Sin Sin", "Ah Sin", "Siu Sin", or otherwise "Ah Ho" etc. there are asians who consciously decide to use it as their main name, kinda akin to someone named William tells you to call them Bill, but in most circumstances, if you don't know that person well, it's considered disrespectful. 15:08, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
I was rather disappointed at how this article was written as well. It seems that, in this article, they have combined the generation and personal names into a single personal name (eg Sinho instead of Sin Ho). They also contradict themselves by talking about how odd it is for a male to have a character like Xiao in his name and later acknowledge the generation name by pointing out that girls are sometimes given different generation names to boys. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:49, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

Stereotype Name?[edit]

In Taiwan, the stereotype name equivalent to "John Smith" in English is 王小明 (Wong, shao-ming(?)). This article does not introduce any one of them (in any Chinese region), while the article Japanese Name does. timdream 23:25, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

That basically is the only "John Smith" name Chinese people use. It's kinda like "Tom, Dick, and Harry". 王小明 (It's actually: Wong Xiao-Ming) is the simplest name, usually used for naming characters in children's schoolbooks, nothing too hard for the kids to read. --Johanna451940 01:54, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
王小明 should be "Wang Xiaoming". LDHan 10:05, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
It should be Wong Xiaoming. It's only "wang" if its of Cantonese spelling, I think. 01:54, 8 November 2007 (UTC)Hyung-Qing
"Wong" is Cantonese for 黄 (Huang). Wang is right. (talk) 06:03, 28 March 2008 (UTC)cecikierk
Wong is the Cantonese for 黄 and 王. Hyung-Qing had it precisely backwards. Wang Xiaoming in China, Wang Hsiao-ming on Taiwan, Billy Bob Wong Hsiao Ming in Hong Kong. — LlywelynII 13:25, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Chinese_name#Alternative_names : need review ![edit]

Hello, I rewritted this section : please review need ! (talk) 13:45, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

Get an account and it's easier to talk, but thanks for being nice enough to post here when you're unsure. — LlywelynII 13:25, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

"Era name" example[edit]

Under "Era name," the article reads:

The era name can sometimes be use in ways which refer to the monarch himself, and not to the period (Ex: the Emperor Meiji, having ruled during the Meiji era (Enlightened rule), he is now known as Emperor Meiji).

The Emperor Meiji was Japanese so I'm deleting the example. Someone might want to add a legitimate example for Chinese. --Hakanai (talk) 20:34, 13 August 2008 (UTC)

3 variations[edit]

The article currently reads: There are 3 variations: Western name, surname, and Chinese given name, in that order ("Fred Yao Ming"). Western name, Chinese given name, and surname ("Fred Ming Yao"). Or surname, Chinese given name, followed by Western name ("Yao Ming Fred"). Is this accurate? I fail to understand the reasoning behind the third variation, which seems a rather awkward "adapation" to Western naming conventions. It seems rather a maladaption (a mistake), as it neglects the name inversion which the major point of the exercise in the first place--unless the intent of the person is to become known as "Mr. Fred". Robert K S (talk) 20:48, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

Given names of siblings[edit]

The article currently states:

Depending on region and family, female children may not be entered into the family tree, and thus will not be given a generation name. A frequent naming pattern for female offspring in this case could share the same last character in the given name while varying the first character (in place of the generation name). A well known example of such system can be found from the names of the main four sisters in the novel "A Dream of Red Mansions" 红楼梦, where they were named 元春 (yuan chun), 迎春 (yin chun), 探春 (tan chun), and 惜春 (xi chun).

This is unreferenced, and in my experience the more common naming scheme is actually the opposite—siblings share the first character of a given name, not the second. (Some famous examples off the cuff: Jung Chang, whose original name was Zhang Erhong (in pinyin), had four siblings whose names were all Er__; Mao Zedong's siblings were all Ze__.) Can we remove, or at least downplay, the unsourced bit quoted above, and find a source for this more common naming pattern and mention it? rʨanaɢ talk/contribs 11:58, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

Removed via cleanup. If people are really curious about the ins and outs of generation names, there's an article on it they can read. — LlywelynII 13:25, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Confusing examples[edit]

I found the examples in, for example, the diaspora section, to be confusing. I can indentify the Western elements of the names in an example, but, not understanding Chinese, cannot tell which other name elements are meant to be surnames and which given names. The examples are therefore confusing and unhelpful to me. Would it be a reasonable reform for this article to adopt a uniform convention of encoding the functions of name elements by different typefaces, such as boldface or italics? The convention could be explained at the top of the article. This is functionally not unlike the European convention of writing surnames in addresses in all capitals. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:57, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

I don't see a problem. Each of the examples there seems to have extensive explanation and discussion. rʨanaɢ talk/contribs 19:12, 2 October 2009 (UTC)
How about this: " is equally acceptable for Western names to appear before or after the Chinese given name, thus Tan Keng Yam Tony may also be written as Tony Tan Keng Yam...". I can recognize "Tony" as a Western name. But "Tan", "Keng", and "Yam" I can't identify as given names or surnames. The sentence seems to say that "Yam" is the given name in the first example and that "Tan" is the given name in the second example. I would be surer that this is a contradiction if I could sort the three Chinese name elements into given names or surnames. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:36, 4 October 2009 (UTC)
In any case, in one example "Tony" is clearly before the entire Chinese name and in the other example "Tony" is clearly after it, so there's no contradiction. And the following sentence (General usage tend to prefer placing the Western name first as this permits the Western and Chinese name order to be preserved simultaneously (ex. "Tony Tan" and "Tan Keng Yam" can be combined to "Tony Tan Keng Yam")) makes it obvious that "Tan" is the family name. I will also add a hyphen in the given name. (Actually, his romanized name appears to be written most commonly in non-hyphenated form.) rʨanaɢ talk/contribs 11:11, 4 October 2009 (UTC)
If the rule is that " is equally acceptable for Western names to appear before or after the entire Chinese name...", then why isn't it stated that way? The rule as given would allow "Tan Tony Keng Yam", if your identification of the name elements is correct, which I have to take your word for. You say that it is obvious that "Tan" is the family name because it is both preceded by "Tony" in one example and followed by "Tony" in the other. The same can be said for "Keng" and "Yam"; so it's not really obvious unless you already know what looks like a family name and what looks like a given name. I think that the article would be improved by examples that do not need to be decoded, especially when prior knowledge of Chinese is required for that. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:24, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

Mr.+ Given name[edit]

I think the statement "Mr.+Given name is never used" is totally wrong. Since Mr. is translated as 先生, and 先生 has a longer history and is actually have different meaning. Given name + 先生 is in fact very common in practice, moreover Given name + salutary tile(先生, comrade, 师傅, etc.) is a friendly way to call people. --刻意(Kèyì) 10:36, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

No one made that statement anywhere. rʨanaɢ (talk) 10:43, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
Seems to be made in the third paragraph in the introduction to the article. KaJunl (talk) 16:19, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

Sources for article/related article expansion[edit]

Using sources sensibly[edit]

I know the two I just posted above aren't academic treatises and sources like Xinhua have their own problems, but I just wanted to point out that Slate is only a reliable source in the loosest of senses. It's professionally run and hires people who list "writer" on their resumes (which they know to spell with accents), but it's essentially a glorified blog with very little editorial oversight. The cited article does list that English names began with white collar workers annoyed at FDI agents' mangling of their names. Problem is that's an informal personal anecdote from what was apparently a single conversation with the single source contacted by the author for the piece. The claim is farcical on its face: China's trading ports have traditions of English names dating back more than two centuries and bi- and trilingualism in China have an even longer history.

In her defense, the grad student cited would probably qualify and annotate the claims attributed to her appropriately if she were called on it, but we should really know to take such puff pieces carefully and with more salt. — LlywelynII 17:11, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

  • Have you checked WP:RS noticeboard to see what others said about Slate? Using the noticeboard can help determine which sources are better than others. You are welcome to start a post there too if you want. WhisperToMe (talk) 05:05, 6 April 2012 (UTC)

Taiwan during Japanese colonialism[edit]

Taiwan: A New History By Murray A. Rubinstein mentions how the Japanese authorities tried to get Han Taiwanese to convert their names to Japanese names around World War II, so they can be detached from their Han places of ancestry

It's on Google Books - p. 240 WhisperToMe (talk) 05:05, 6 April 2012 (UTC)

Sorry just a minor correction[edit]

It said Dongfang with the given words 东风 in an example of a post-PRC name. 风 romanizes to feng not fang. But i wanted to be sure so I'm writing this here. I know the name Dongfang 东方 but not Dongfeng so I wasn't sure if it was a Chinese character error or a pinyin error. Somebody please look into this. Thanks! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:41, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Ancient Names[edit]

Anyone can add a section on ancient Chinese names? Such as those in the Zhou dynasty? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:03, 7 June 2012 (UTC)

Minority naming practices in China[edit]

Uyghur people have given Islamic, Russian, and European personal names to their children.

Rajmaan (talk) 22:40, 11 March 2014 (UTC)

Use Pinyin instead of other spelling[edit]

In China mainland, Pingyin is officially recognized and widely used, so 王 should be Wang instead of Wong. According to "The Chinese phonetic alphabet spelling rules for Chinese names"(中国人名汉语拼音字母拼写规则,GB/T 28039-2011), if not in special cases, Chinese name should be spelled in Pinyin. Even if you are referring to a person from Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan, the Rule states:"If necessary, you can attach his/her Latin name in brackets or note" If referring to the special character "ü", you can use "yu" instead of it.This is a PDF from Ministry of Education website: (talk) 08:57, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

As a European I also find it bewildering that this article uses a Hong Kong Cantonese transcription of Chinese names even when the reference is to all of China, where the Mandarin Pinyin transcription would be appropriate. Looking at the article history it seems as if the change to Hong Kong Cantonese is a recent one, only from March this year. I consider this change to be close to vandalism. Roufu (talk) 09:34, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
Yes, it was indeed a disruptive POV-pushing edit by User:Abc.brown. He has done this before in October 2013, and this is his second time. --benlisquareTCE 13:39, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

Given names supported by computers[edit]

The article says that approximately 32,000 given names are supported by computers. I clicked on the source, and the New York Times article actually only says that 32,000 characters are supported, not 32,000 names (which are typically two characters). This should be clarified. KaJunl (talk) 16:15, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

National Geographic style manual[edit]

This is what National Geographic has written about the subject in its style guide: - WhisperToMe (talk) 16:56, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

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Taiwan/Diaspora citations[edit]

As far as I can tell, nothing in these two sections has ever been verified. Surely statistics about how common last names are should be backed by sources... and this story about naming children things like "Pig Shit" reads like an urban legend. Examples of real people who use variations on traditional names are fine, but these sections make many vague claims about "common practice".

Is the example box useful?[edit]

The example box in section Alternative names, which was added by (talk · contribs · WHOIS), who has long since left Wikipedia, is ridden with problems:

  1. It has no references and appears to be WP:OR.
  2. We have a whole article dedicated to Names of Sun Yat-sen, to which the box here has no connection. (Apparently, that article was unknown to the creator of the box.)
  3. His Chinese name Sun Zhong-shan (孫中山) doesn't even appear in the box. (Which is supposed to illustrate an article called "Chinese name"!) This omission might due to the next problem:
  4. Because of the unusual history of his Chinese name 孫中山, Sun Yat-sen is a particularly bad example for this article.
  5. It contains entries that are not matched by the existing subsections of that section or elsewhere in this article. Example: "Official name", "Caricatural name".
  6. It uses its own ideosyncratic terminology. Some of this has been corrected since, but much remains, e.g. "posthume" for posthumous. Likewise, "Official name" appears to refer to his genealogical name.
  7. It omits 氏 and 姓 as well as Western name and Nickname.
  8. The example for "Milk name" does not fit the pattern in subsection Milk. This may, however, be a problem with our subsection, since the subsection is in conflict with Names of Sun Yat-sen#Small name: Sun Dixiang. This requires further research.
  9. The numbering wrongly suggests some official or conventional ordering and disagrees with the subsection numbering.

Since we already have a much better box, {{infobox chinese}}, which appears in most articles with Chinese names, I see no need for this problematic box here. Can we delete it? — Sebastian 08:55, 11 January 2018 (UTC)

Reduplicated names[edit]

List of people with reduplicated names#Chinese lists some people with the "same" given name and family name; meaning the same pinyin excluding tone. It seems to me that duplicate names are somewhat less rare in Chinese than in English; e.g. "Li Li" is more common than "James James". My exposure to Chinese is minimal, so this may simply be confirmation bias and/or small sample size. And the smaller number of legal syllables in Chinese means the scope for "random" duplicates is greater (though choosing names is hardly random). One might subdivide these "same" into three levels of sameness:

  1. different tones (e.g. Dǒng Dòng)
  2. homophones with same tone but different character (e.g. Yáng Yáng 杨洋)
  3. same character (e.g. Miao Miao 苗苗)

So, are any of these three types likely to be especially appealing or unappealing to a significant section of Chinese speakers? This is perhaps too vague and subjective a question for an encyclopedic answer, but perhaps not. For comparison, I will give my own subjective view regarding English names: a perfect homonym like "James James" or "Neville Neville" is likely to make many people feel sorry for a child whose parents they will assume were trying to be funny or clever.

One might extend the discussion to two-syllable given names, where the two characters are the "same" as each other and/or one is the "same" as the surname. The article already says "It is also more common for female names to employ ... doubled characters". It also says "parents often use a milk name ... typically employing ... doubled characters" ; Reduplication#Chinese suggests it's not just baby names but also pet names (both human hypocorisms and animal names as in Panda diplomacy) is this always "doubled characters" or could a different, homonymous character be used?

jnestorius(talk) 14:45, 19 January 2018 (UTC)

  • I see from this post on languagelog by Victor Mair that reduplicated characters may have different tones (shūshu 叔叔 / jiùjiu 舅舅).
  • A 2016 Quora comment on Chinese names: "Reduplication ... was very popular in the 1980s and is still used today."
jnestorius(talk) 13:18, 22 January 2018 (UTC)

'Chinese names in English" section[edit]

Is it better to change the 'Chinese names in English" section to "Chinese names in Latin" or "Romanization of Chinese names" to make it more neutral? Because it's their Chinese name written in Latin characters, not really their English names (Chinese name#Western name). Bennylin (talk) 15:25, 8 March 2019 (UTC)

Personally I do prefer "[...]in Western languages" though the references I consulted themselves only refer to/say English; therefore I used "in English" as the title. Interestingly Hungarian names use Eastern order, so Chinese names would keep the said order in Hungarian. WhisperToMe (talk) 09:12, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

@Bennylin: Thanks for doing the romanization tables: I think they'll be helpful in showing how different regions spell names. Wouldn't it help to say that the Taiwan and Singapore/Malaysia etc. romanizations of Mainland figures (beginning with Hu Jintao, and continuing to Xi Jinping) are just theoretical examples? I checked newspapers from the region and today they use Pinyin.

I am aware Mao was known as "Mao Tse-tung" in older English sources, particularly those in the West, and I presume Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore would have used these too. WhisperToMe (talk) 09:10, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

Strokes in a Chinese name: "五格指的是姓名学中天格、地格、人格、总格、外格。五格全称为五格剖象法,是目前较有影响的一种取名法"[edit]

The content from this baidu baike page (五格) should be included on this page in some manner. Here is an English language introduction to the topic (Choosing a Chinese Name by Number of Strokes). Geographyinitiative (talk) 07:48, 26 July 2019 (UTC)

Changing title of page[edit]

When we are referring to names as 'Chinese', are we talking about names from China or the language? I suggest changing the name of this page to 'Chinese naming customs' (like 'Spanish naming customs' and 'Portuguese naming customs'). Gandalfett (talk) 10:46, 20 January 2020 (UTC)