The Western world would name their children from a list of established
names such as Peter, François, Günther, Carlos, or Antonio. The Chinese
on the other hand could create unique names by choosing characters from
a vast selection of vocabulary that is meaningful. It is like being able
to create a name for your children or yourself by choosing virtually any
word from the vocabulary.
In the Chinese language there is a wide choice of words that are
suitable names, though in practice some words are used more common than
others. Other than inherited surname, it is an art to choose meaningful
words as names.
Embedded in most Chinese names are the parents’ aspirations and hopes
for their child.
As we shall see later, words could be chosen to project character traits
such as ‘confidence’ ‘excellence’, ‘love and care’, ‘loyalty’, ‘peace
and tranquillity’, ‘trust’, etc. The combination of words is enormous. A
list of about a thousand naming words is provided in this book.
If you have a Chinese name, an understanding of what your name means not
only enables you to understand what your parents hope in you, but also
how others would get their ‘first impression’ of you, as well as a
personality profile that you would be associated with, whether you like
it or not.
Brought up in Malaysia, educated
in France and now settled in Australia, Dr. Yow is
in a unique position to highlight Chinese roots,
their mindset and psyche. The author adopts a
bilingual approach, whereby the relevant texts are
printed in Chinese together with the pinyin
pronunciation wherever possible, followed by
translations in English.