Why Chinese People Choose Weird English Names?

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Why Chinese People Choose Weird English Names?

My name is Holly, and I chose it from a Hollywood movie I watched long ago. And I have been told I did a great pick that is able to represent who I am. 

But some Chinese people might have names that are not so understandable or “too” creative. Guys are better. But some girls tend to choose fruits as names, celebrities as names, and names that are totally out of the box.

An English name is not officially registered for a Chinese person. We usually do not have one until meeting our first English teacher or finding the need of having one.  When choosing one:1. First consonant pronunciation similar to their Chinese name,

2. A literal translation of their original name

3. Brevity for ease of pronunciation. This all sounds fine on paper

But sometimes things can go so wrong.For starters

You’ve got your standard Chinese, English names like Joy, April, May, Apple, Mary for women, while men generally stick with more generic sounding names such as John, David, Tony, Henry, Steven, and Leo.

Cute, Sweet, and Cuddly

Welcome to the land of pink fluffy kitties meowing on rainbows with names like Bambi, Bunny, Candy, Cherry, Sunny, Happy, Penny, and Winnie. This predilection for sugary names could be a symptom of the Kawaii (Japanese for “cute”) craze that started in Japan and has spread like a pestilence all over Asia. Don’t be surprised to see a Bambi or Bunny hopping down the lane posing for selfies with puffy cheeks in an attempt to resemble a chipmunk or other fury forest creature.

Asian Celebrities

Asian celebrities provide an abundant supply of quirky English names in China. If you’ve ever run into a man named Rain, he probably named himself after the hugely popular Korean entertainer. There are also a lot of female Raines named after Rainie Yang, a Taiwanese singer. There’s still plenty of Cocos out there due to the enduring popularity of Hong Kong-born American singer Coco Lee. And so Alien after Taiwanese singer Alien Huang, Yoga after Taiwanese singer Yoga Lee. Wonder why there are so many dudes running around named Leo? Thank Leo Ku – Cantopop and Mandopop singer.

The Doubling of Chinese character

The ultimate in 可爱 (cute) for Chinese is to create a nickname by repeating their first name with names like Beibei, Bobo, Enen, Fangfang, Gege, Huahua, Jiajia,Kaka,Kiki, Lili,Mengmeng, Mimi,Momo, Nannan, Peipei, Shasha, Sisi, Susu, Tingting, Xinxin, and Zhuzhu become English names like Babie, Bobo, Lily, Lulu and Mimi. Sometimes it works out fine when it is literally translated into English names. But other times they were told to reconsider a name. Zhuzhu sounds like bad juju, Kiki’s kind of kinky. Mimi is an odd choice because in Chinese, depending on the tone, it can mean secret or breasts.

Cantonese Surnames Gone Wrong

Due to the frequent use of consonant endings and the numerous conflicting Cantonese romanization systems still in use, familiar Mandarin surnames quickly become quite comical. Here are but a few examples:

Fu = Fook

Wang and Huang = Wong

Ding = Ting

Chen = Tang

Yu = Yew

Zou = Chew

Guo = Kwok

You can see with spellings like this how all fun starts to ensue. Work safe examples would be Annie Tang (anything), Harry Thai (hairy thigh), Barbie Kiu (Barbecue) and Never Wong. Take the actor Chow Yun-fat (Zhou Renfa), if you say his name based on the Western convention of the first name in front of surname, you get Yun-fat Chow.

Awesome Names

Above name examples are crazy but a minority. As a rule, Chinese generally people play it safe and pick common English names. There are some really cool names such as composer Yoyo Ma, actor Jet Li, designer Ziggy Chen, and architect I.M. Pei.Personally, I’ve met some Chinese with very memorable names such as Rock Wheeler, Walker, Jackson, Kita, and Kani, or less common but tasteful like Dean, Rico, Jarod, Bianca, Lynn, Luna, and Jasmine.

If you’re not a native English speaker and you’re unsure of a good name to pick for yourself, it’s generally best to stick with your original name, at least until you’ve got a better feel for naming conventions.