Published by under categories Bilingual Baby, From Lina | comments Comments (2)

Last week I was emailing the parents of my Chinese class to think about a Chinese name for their child, not only because it makes sense to have a Chinese name for Chinese class, but also the practice of choosing names in China has been intertwined with China’s history and culture.

How do you name your child in Chinese?

Chinese names are composed of two parts, the surname and the given name, and the surname comes before the given name. In China, one hundred surnames make up over 85% of China’s 1.3 billion citizens. In fact, just the top three – Wáng(王), lǐ (李), and Zhāng (å¼ ) – cover more than 20% of the population.

Name Your Child in Chinese: Top 3 Chinese Names

The surname is generally composed of one character or syllable, but there are also two-syllable surnames, or compound surnames. Compared to surnames, Chinese given names show much greater diversity, while still being restricted almost universally to one or two syllables. Hence, a majority of Chinese full names have two or three characters.

Most Chinese names have specials meanings, reflecting particular wishes from parents or grandparents. For example, měi(美), lì(丽),  yàn(艳), xiù(秀), all of which literally mean beautiful or pretty, are normally found in girls’ names;

Name Your Child in Chinese: Chinese Girl's Names for Beautiful

while wěi(伟), qiáng(强), hóng(宏), zhuàng(壮), meaning greatness and strength, are common names for boys.

Name Your Child in Chinese: Chinese Boys’ Names Meaning Strong

If parents hope a child to be exceptionally intelligent, they might name their child with one of the following characters: huì(慧), cōng(聪), mǐn(敏),and ruì(睿), all of which literally mean clever or smart.

Name Your Child in Chinese: Chinese Names Meaning Smart

Therefore, one way (maybe the most common way) to name a child in Chinese is to choose the characters which contain your most beautiful wishes cherished for him/her.

You can also name your child based on other resources, such as seasons, weather, flowers and plants, or historical events.

For non-native Chinese, there is another way to name your child, which is transliteration, getting the spelling of a word in Chinese with the alphabet of English.

In another word, you can name your child based on the pronunciation of his/her English name. For example, Benjamin is 本杰明 (Běn Jié Míng) in Chinese,

Name Your Child in Chinese: Chinese Names for Benjamin

and Diana is written as 黛安娜 (Dài ān Nà). See Girl names in Chinese and Boy names in Chinese for a complete list.

Name Your Child in Chinese: Chinese Names for Diana
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How to help children learn Chinese characters? (Method 1)
How to help children learn Chinese characters? (Method 2)
How to help children learn Chinese characters? (Method 3)
How to help children learn Chinese characters? (Method 4)
How to help children learn Chinese characters? (Method 5)


Comments

  1. 1
    Mommynificent // September 17th, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    That is so interesting! I love stuff like this. My husband’s middle name is Taiwanese and the characters mean world peace. I wonder what my name would be! Do you know if there is a common transliteration for Tina?

    Thanks so much for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday! I found it fascinating!
    Tina

  2. 2
    Lina // September 19th, 2013 at 11:15 am

    @Tina: 蒂娜 is the Chinese word for Tina. It is a beautiful name! What is the Chinese character for your husband’s middle name? Is it 宁, 怡 or 和?

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