Wa-pedia Home > Japan Forum & Europe Forum
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 32

Thread: The name clones of China

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    ¼‹ž
    Posts
    2,434

    Exclamation The name clones of China

    BBC News : Shanghai muddle over popular name

    Quote Originally Posted by BBC
    If you are trying to track down someone named Chen Jie in Shanghai, you may need a little extra help.

    According to official statistics, it is the city's most popular name and is currently shared by 3,937 people.

    It combines a common surname - Chen - with a popular character - Jie - which means clean or pure.

    According to residents, the prevalence of the name is leading to confusion with school registrations and bank accounts.
    ...
    The second most popular name in the city was Zhang Min, shared by 3,751 people.
    ...
    China has more than 700 family names, but the vast majority of people use one of the most popular 20 names.
    It has always startled me how the most populous nation on earth could cope with some few surnames and given names. The major problem is that Chinese surnames are limited to a single hanzi and a thus single syllable. There are only 700 surnames for 1.3 billion people, which means almost 2 million people with the same surname in average. But the worst of all is that all these surnames have several homonyms, and only the written character can distinnguish them. Given names are hardly better, as they are limited to 2 monosyllabic characters.

    As a result 4000 people with the exact same name (including characters) in Shanghai alone. As Shanghai's population is about 1% of the whole country, we could guess that the most common name combination in China would have 400,000 people bearing it. If only one hundred of them travelled the same day to the same country, imagine the confusion at the airline and customs !

    Like the Japanese, Chinese people do not have multiple given names, unlike in Europe where 3 to 5 given names is common (and dozens possible), justly in order to avoid confusions. Yet there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of surnames in Europe. Tiny Belgium alone (130x less populous than China) had exactly 187.710 family names in 1987 for 10 million people (one for 53 people), so that when you meet two people with the same surname (except a few hundreds common ones), there is a good chance that they are related. France counts some 900.000 surnames for 60 million inhabitants (one for 66 peolpe), a proportion slightly lower than Belgium.

    In comparison, the Hiragana Times claims that there are 240,000 different surnames in Japan (1 for 533 people), although this surprises me, given the very limited number of kanji that are allowed in family names (just a few hundreds).

    While searching the web, I found an article in French (from a Chinese government website) mentioning that there once was 22,000 family names in China, and contrarily to what the BBC says, they claim that there are still 3500 Han Chinese surnames nowadays in China. This is still a ridiculously low number compared to much smaller European countries, or even Japan.

    Maybe it is time (high time, indeed) for China to allow multiple character surnames (or at least combinations of both parents' surnames, as is common in Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries), and also for multiple given names, at least for administrative purposes (Europeans otherwise never use their 2nd, 3rd, 4th or other given names).

    Visit Japan for free with Wa-pedia
    See what's new on the forum ?
    Eupedia : Europe Guide & Genetics
    Maciamo & Eupedia on Twitter

    "What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?", Winston Churchill.

  2. #2
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location
    Dublin,California
    Posts
    174
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post

    The major problem is that Chinese surnames are limited to a single hanzi and a thus single syllable,there are only 700 surnames for 1.3 billion people.

    Like the Japanese,Chinese people do not have multiple given names.
    Ancient Chinese surnames started out with 2 characters,as Kung-Sung for commonly known legendary ancestor Huang Di ( Yellow Emperor ) plus several examples I have to retrieve from my copy of " Chinese common family names ".There are 20-30 existent compound surnames with less than 1 million in population,Tse-Ma or Tse-To ( origin of court official rankings in ancient times ) and Au-Yang are common ones.

    Chinese traditionally had multiple given names as the practice has faded in modern time,it's family to family whether one has 2 or more given names among younger generations.Me and my elder siblings have 2 given names at birth,one for public use and the other stays in written " jukpo " ( family root book ).My rarely used given name has 2 Kanji characters meaning " virtue fairy ",oppose to I am known to everyone as " way of love " for the meaning of my 2 Chinese ( monosyllabic characters ) first name.

  3. #3
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location
    Dublin,California
    Posts
    174
    Quote Originally Posted by ricecake View Post

    My rarely used given name has 2 Kanji characters meaning " virtue fairy ",oppose to I am known to everyone as " way of love " for the meaning of my 2 Chinese ( monosyllabic characters ) first name.
    Minor modification,Chinese given name generally consists of " middle " and " first " names.For instance,my middle name is " way " with first name " love ".

    However,I've met a few Chinese ( mainly the northerners ) only have one-character given name with no middle name.

  4. #4
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    ¼‹ž
    Posts
    2,434
    I think that long names tend to sound good. I remember that Prussian dragoon officier at the battle of Waterloo (1815) whose name was : Alexander Georg Ludwig Moritz Constantin Maximilian von Wahlen-Jürgaß. (6 given names + a combined surname)

    Many noble families in Dutch, French, Spanish or German-speaking countries have a combination of 2, 3, 4 or more surnames. It is also common for nobility to have more given names than average, so 5 to 8 would be fairly common.

  5. #5
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location
    Dublin,California
    Posts
    174
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post

    I found an article in French (from a Chinese government website) mentioning that there once was 22,000 family names in China, and contrarily to what the BBC says,they claim that there are still 3500 Han Chinese surnames nowadays in China.
    Any claim on China once had 22,000 family names is over-stretched by a mile.Adaptation of surnames among general population in ancient time China began during the fragmentation period of Warring States and it was a long process.My Chinese language book titles " 100 common Chinese family names " thoroughly explains earliest surnames had originations in Shandong peninsula,Hebei province,Shanxi province,and Henan province where Chinese's ancestors dwelled 3500-4500 years ago.One good example I can provide here,Chinese philosopher Confucius's surname KUNG (Gong in Korean ) has origination in Shandong peninsula where he was born and bred and his family was part of native population of Dong-Yi heritage.

    I think it's about right there are close to 3500 Han Chinese surnames if we include " Sinicized " minority ethnicities.

  6. #6
    Tortoise Lover Nicholas Tse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 23, 2006
    Age
    39
    Posts
    22

    Smile

    Maybe it is because of most Chinese share a lot of the surnames...
    And parents love to give meaningful names..
    ------
    At least I can be called as special, at worst, I am just weird!
    ------

  7. #7
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    ¼‹ž
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Tse View Post
    Maybe it is because of most Chinese share a lot of the surnames...
    And parents love to give meaningful names..
    Quiz. Do you know many countries where parents do not search for a meaningful name for their children ? Western names might be less obvious as they are no hanzi with one clear meaning, but most parents do check "babies' names books", where they explain the origin and meaning of each given name. What's interesting with Western names is that they come from different cultures and different eras (Ancient Greek, Roman, Biblical, Norse, German, Celtic...). A few examples :

    - 'Sophia' means "wisdom" in Greek.
    - 'Rachel' comes from Hebrew and means "Ewe," or also "innocence and gentility of a rose" and may mean "lovely".
    - 'Jennifer' is a Celtic name that means "white waves".
    - 'Richard' comes from the Germanic elements 'ric' (meaning power, rule, leader) and 'hard' (meaning brave, hardy, strong).
    - 'John' means merciful in Hebrew.
    - 'Mark' comes from Latin "Marcus", derived from "Mars", the god of war, and is said to mean "martial" or "great warrior".

  8. #8
    Tortoise Lover Nicholas Tse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 23, 2006
    Age
    39
    Posts
    22

    Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Quiz. Do you know many countries where parents do not search for a meaningful name for their children ? Western names might be less obvious as they are no hanzi with one clear meaning, but most parents do check "babies' names books", where they explain the origin and meaning of each given name. What's interesting with Western names is that they come from different cultures and different eras (Ancient Greek, Roman, Biblical, Norse, German, Celtic...). A few examples :
    - 'Sophia' means "wisdom" in Greek.
    - 'Rachel' comes from Hebrew and means "Ewe," or also "innocence and gentility of a rose" and may mean "lovely".
    - 'Jennifer' is a Celtic name that means "white waves".
    - 'Richard' comes from the Germanic elements 'ric' (meaning power, rule, leader) and 'hard' (meaning brave, hardy, strong).
    - 'John' means merciful in Hebrew.
    - 'Mark' comes from Latin "Marcus", derived from "Mars", the god of war, and is said to mean "martial" or "great warrior".

    Oh I see...
    What does "Nicholas" means?

  9. #9
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location
    Dublin,California
    Posts
    174
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post

    Western names might be less obvious as they are no hanzi with one clear meaning, but most parents do check "babies' names books", where they explain the origin and meaning of each given name. What's interesting with Western names is that they come from different cultures and different eras.


    There is no published book on Chinese baby names to best of my knowledge,I haven't seen one yet or hear of one to this day as I often frequent a local Chinese bookstore here in northern California.Chinese parents brainstorm first names for their children,I have 2 female friends named " little little " and " smile " are unusual ones.

    Only in recent years we have a few male and female Chinese first names transliterated from English ones like David,Peter and Mary are most common,otherwise nearly all Han Chinese given names are of " Chinese origins " with a handful might have transliterated from Manchu or Mongol ones.

    I need to get Chinese font for my computer in order for me to type up Kanji in my posts so I can be better understand.

  10. #10
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location
    Dublin,California
    Posts
    174
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post

    Maybe it is time for China to allow multiple character surnames (or at least combinations of both parents' surnames, as is common in Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries).


    I don't think it's feasible because many combination Chinese surnames would look awkward for those understand Chinese written script,however every now and then I catch one or two " modern " married Chinese female(s) kept her own family name and added on her husband's surname.

    European languages are more intelligible,extended family names are awesome and fanciful.

  11. #11
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    ¼‹ž
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Tse View Post
    Oh I see...
    What does "Nicholas" means?
    Why do you check it on Wikipedia or one of the thousands of websites explaininng the meaning of names ?

  12. #12
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location
    Dublin,California
    Posts
    174
    Quote Originally Posted by ricecake View Post

    Ancient Chinese surnames started out with 2 characters,several examples I have to retrieve from my copy of " Chinese common family names ".


    Just an update,there are several known still in existent compound surnames of Han-Chinese origin.They are Wang-Pu,Dong-Fang,Si-Mong,Nan-Kong,and Seng-Kong plus some not listed here are dead but stay recorded in the book as reference.

  13. #13
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location
    Dublin,California
    Posts
    174
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Tse View Post

    Maybe it is because of most Chinese share a lot of the surnames...


    87% of overall Han Chinese population worldwide share the same 100 common family names.In examples,Lee Liu Sung Wu Chen Wang Chang Lin Huang Ho Ma Soong Chu Yang Kao Han Xu Liang Jiang Chien Pang Chao etc.

  14. #14
    Tortoise Lover Nicholas Tse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 23, 2006
    Age
    39
    Posts
    22
    Quote Originally Posted by ricecake View Post
    87% of overall Han Chinese population worldwide share the same 100 common family names.In examples,Lee Liu Sung Wu Chen Wang Chang Lin Huang Ho Ma Soong Chu Yang Kao Han Xu Liang Jiang Chien Pang Chao etc.
    I KNOW....

  15. #15
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location
    Dublin,California
    Posts
    174
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post

    What's interesting with Western names is that they come from different cultures and different eras (Ancient Greek, Roman, Biblical, Norse, German, Celtic...). A few examples :

    - 'Sophia' means "wisdom" in Greek.
    - 'Jennifer' is a Celtic name that means "white waves".
    - 'Richard' comes from Germanic elements 'ric' (meaning power, rule, leader)
    - 'John' means merciful in Hebrew.
    - 'Mark' comes from Latin "Marcus", derived from "Mars".


    Europe has never been consolidated as one single continental nation ( both Napolean and Hitler have failed in this mission ),unlike China have had continuous legitimate dynasties except for several recorded fragmented periods in ancient time to present political stalemate between PRC and Taiwan.

    China's long enduring history has one divine goal regardless what Mongoloid ethnicity in rule is to unify all continental tribes/clans by military force and or Sinicization.Today's Han Chinese population is an assortment of various major Asian continental indigenous peoples,Hua-Xia clan ( upper Yellow River Basin ),Dong-Yi clan ( lower Yellow River Basin/Shandong peninsula ),Bai Yue ( a collective of hundred indigenous peoples populated south of Yantze River stretched from today's Jiangsu province to Guangxi province in China's SW region ),plus Northern Nomadic hordes and Tungusic clans.

    The Chinese script was the ONLY written language available back when our ancestors began taking up family surnames and given names.Nearly all Chinese first names have " meaning(s) " but DON'T IDENTIFY the clan origin as we BECAME ONE PEOPLE not numerous cultures like you described as the case for European race.Our family surnames and root books can provide some " clues " to clan origin(s).

  16. #16
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location
    Dublin,California
    Posts
    174
    Quote Originally Posted by ricecake View Post

    Europe has never been consolidated as one single continental nation ( both Napolean and Hitler have failed in this mission ),unlike China have had continuous legitimate dynasties except for several recorded fragmented periods in ancient time to present political stalemate between PRC and Taiwan.


    They were regarded as continuous periods of an UNIFIED China nation,hence there has always been ONE unified Han Chinese culture not many sub-cultures like you have in Europe.

    There is minor distinction on some given-names between Northern and Southern Han Chinese,regional and provincial culture and population can attribute to specific first names more common in one region or province and vice versa.

  17. #17
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location
    Dublin,California
    Posts
    174
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post

    But the worst of all is that all these surnames have several homonyms,and only the written character can distinnguish them.


    Not all,a percentage of Chinese surnames are homonyms.Partly correct,there is a way Chinese can verbally distinguish by specific Chinese character component(s) of any particular surname or the meaning of it or an association of some sort.

  18. #18
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location
    Dublin,California
    Posts
    174
    Quote Originally Posted by ricecake View Post

    Ancient Chinese surnames started out with 2 characters.


    I need to make minor clarification here,there were also single-character surnames as well.Most Han Chinese family names branched out from those ancient ones created back then.

  19. #19
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location
    Dublin,California
    Posts
    174
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post

    Given names are hardly better,as they are limited to 2 monosyllabic characters.


    A percentage of mainland Chinese population don't have a " middle " name.

  20. #20
    Regular Member Wang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 21, 2004
    Location
    Originally from Taiwan
    Posts
    137
    It's confusing when many people have the same names.
    ‘ä˜p‹¤˜a‘ Republic of Taiwan.
    Freedom for Taiwan.

  21. #21
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    ¼‹ž
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by ricecake View Post
    A percentage of mainland Chinese population don't have a " middle " name.
    A very high percentage of Europeans do not have one middle names, but many... I actually do not know any European with only one middle name (among the people whose middle names I know).

  22. #22
    "Nani ga okashin desu?!" CBC Guy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2, 2006
    Location
    Vancouver, Canada, currently Chengdu, China
    Age
    35
    Posts
    15
    I remember in Hong Kong a person I knew said he went to the library to renew something and when they checked his card there were like 1,000's of people with the exact same name. It was still fine because every card has an exact number, but I still thought that was pretty interesting.
    'Watashi no Nihongo wa son-na ni heta desu ka?!?!"

  23. #23
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location
    Dublin,California
    Posts
    174
    Interestingly,I haven't met or read anyone has same first name as mine.


    It's a rare written girl name means " love ",my papa added Kanji for " girl " to the left of the character love.

  24. #24
    Back leonmarino's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 19, 2006
    Location
    Rotterdam - ƒƒbƒe
    Posts
    44
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Quiz. Do you know many countries where parents do not search for a meaningful name for their children ?
    Maciamo, you have to admit there are more meaningless names in western countries than in Japan/Chinese, in which every name has a true meaning. I'm often interested in the meanings of people's names (maybe because I'm named after a sea-lion, I don't know), and I more than sometimes get the answer "I don't know what my name means".. If people are given names without a meaning, they're nothing but "sounds" aren't they?

    I hate it when people around here talk about their newborns, like:
    "So what name are you going to give him?" - "Oh, that sounds so cool!"
    To me it isn't about the sound but the meaning. I think the same goes for the majority of the Japanese and Chinese people. (Maybe also other peoples from Asia, but I wouldn't know to be honest.)

  25. #25
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    ¼‹ž
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by leonmarino View Post
    Maciamo, you have to admit there are more meaningless names in western countries than in Japan/Chinese, in which every name has a true meaning
    I will never admit anything so ludicrous. Western names almost all have a meaning. Only people who don't make the effort of looking them up think that they don't have a meaning. There are plenty of books and online guides if you wonder (like this one) In the cases where there isn't a semantic meaning based on a word combination (like most Germanic names, e.g. Albert => "adal" [noble] + "beraht" [right]), there is usually a strong connotation to a famous Ancient person who bore that name, be it a Roman emperor, a Biblical character or someone else. In many cases Western names have both a meaning and a connotation or "attributes". Books of baby names usually explain the character trait, colour, star sign, or even patron saint (for Catholics at least) associated with one name. I am sure that it is at least as complex and probably more so than Japanese or Chinese names. In fact, kanji names are easier because the meaning is obvious from the kanji, while in Western names you normally need some knowledge of Ancient Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Old German, Anglo-Saxon or Old Gaelic to make sense of the name. Given the popularity of "baby names books" in all Western languages, it is fairly obvious that a lot of people do not just choose their children's names based on phonetic liking only.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •