What Chinese Names?


Ask a Japanese, Korean, Indian, Malay or Arab his/her name
, you probably get a name that sounds like his/her nationality. Ask a Chinese that, you certainly need to ask thrice for his name. Thrice? Yes.

Cos’ when you first ask a Chinese for his/her name, there is a good chance you will not get a Chinese name. Most likely, get an English, Hebrew, Greek, Japanese, Spanish or non-Chinese name. That is when you ask a 2nd time – "I see…what’s your real Chinese name". And his/her answer shall be quickly followed by your 3rd question – "Huh? Again? I didn’t get it…"

I can’t generalise this for all Chinese. But look around you – more than half of your Chinese friends use names that aren’t Chinese. Friends of my generation are naming their kids with fanciful names. It is pretty easy for me to single out those friends who are using their Chinese names (like Hock, Yei, Ming).

Surely, we do have Chinese names. And it is not that the Chinese despise their own names. Nor most of us are turning holy to adopt those "Christian names". There is a lame but valid reason to explain why we are adopting these names – they are much easier for our audience to remember. At the very least, we save them from mispronouncing our names at important events – like at a graduation, wedding ceremony, lucky draw event. It will be dreadfully embarrassing when you hear names like "Gan Lee Nah". or "Lim Lao Bei". In Singapore, we Chinese have "Dialect names in English" that even mainland Chinese won’t be able to decode. The other races can never pronounce our names right. It just doesn’t sound "Chinese" enough.

The mainland Chinese are certainly much bolder and more creative in adopting non-Chinese names for themselves. For the past 4 years here, I have interviewed "Envy", "Bang", "Ashes", "Hue", "Kinky" and yes "Dracula"! (I always remember this chap!) Not to mention I was served by an unfriendly hotel staff by the name of "Humor" last week in China.

One Response to What Chinese Names?

  1. chay says:

    To add on to more chinese names, there is, Pinky, Super, Ramboo, Shine, Hero

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