Notes on Intercultural Communication

Choosing a Foreign Name

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Choosing a Western Name

Gregory Mavrides from the Middle Kindom Life wrote an article about the differences between Chinese and English names and gives a guideline about how to choose a foreign name in China.

(…) Chinese names are very different from Western ones. For one thing, all Chinese names have a literal meaning, which is to say the characters that comprise a Chinese name have common meaning in the language. Most Western names do not have any actual or literal meaning and cannot be translated as such. Many of my Chinese students will ask me to suggest an “English name” for them and, then, upon hearing it, will immediately ask “What does it mean?” Unfortunately, the answer to that question is usually “It doesn’t mean anything!” (…)

Download the whole pdf here or here.

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Photo retrievet 18.11.2012 at http://onionjuggler.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/the-naming-of-students/dsc_0474/

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See the full post at Force Feeding Duck Style about the naming os students. The Force Feeding Duck Style actually is a great blog about a Westerner’s life in China.

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Su Fei (Sophie) does some interviews about the English names of Chinese people

There is more on YouTube  (keywords: “sexy beijing” or “sexybeijing”) or her website: http://www.sexybeijing.tv/new/default.aspx

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Choosing a Chinese name

老夫子 – Lao Fu Zi

Since I mentioned how Chinese people find their western names, here is an example of how a Westerner found his Chinese name. It is adopted from the phonetics of my family name. It has a double meaning. One meaning is that Lau Fu Zi was a Chinese philosopher. Since Chinese philosophy aims at being wise as a whole, it refers to my interest in learning about Asian cultures. The other meaning is a character from a cartoon “Old Master Q”, which was popular in the 70s.

Watch online at  http://www.oldmasterq.com/

See here for merchandising: http://www.omqcomics.com/en/

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(…) 三 姓氏文化 Surname Culture

sān xìnɡ shì wén huà

1.“女”字旁

Ever thought why the Chinese character for surname is formed by a feminine character?

“ nǚ ” zì pánɡ

母系氏族社会 matriarchal society

mǔ xì shì zú shè hu

父系氏族社会 patriarchal society

fù xì shì zú shè huì

2.中国古人的姓名:姓、名、字、号,如唐朝诗人李白,姓李,名白,字太白,号青莲居士

The ancient Chinese name included 4 parts: family name, given name, zi and hao. For example, the famous poet in tang dynasty Libai, “li” is his family name, bai is his given name, and his zi is “taibai”, his “hao” is “qinglian jushi”.

(In ancient China, young man reaching the age of 20 and girls when they are going to marry, they will get a “biao zi4”. This is his or her formal name when they officially join the society. Literati and people who have a social position may have a “hao”.)

zhōnɡ ɡuó ɡǔ rén de xìnɡ mínɡ :xìnɡ、mínɡ 、zì 、hào ,rú tánɡ cháo shī rén Lǐbái ,xìnɡ lǐ ,mínɡ bái ,zì tài bái ,hào qīnɡ lián jū shì。

3.《百家姓》the book of family names.

李姓为最大姓 the surname “ li ” is the biggest surname in China now

《 bǎi jiā xìnɡ 》

lǐ xìnɡ wéi zuì dà xìnɡ (…)

(received from Ms. Li Yunfang  at 12.11.2012 from yolanda-smile@qq.com)

For the best introduction to Chinese culture ever download Ms. Li’s complete article as pdf here.

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reviewed 18.11.2012

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