There’s a Chinese saying:
“Don’t be afraid of the bad numerology given by birth, but to fear of having a bad name.”
A good name can bring good luck to a person, according to Chinese culture. To create a Chinese name is not just picking words from the list of Chinese characters, not to mention the vast number of characters.
According to the history of China, there are over 50,000 Chinese characters. Each character is a word. A comprehensive modern dictionary rarely lists over 20,000 in use nowadays. In general, an educated Chinese person will know about 8,000 characters, whereas you only need 2,000 to 3,000 to read a newspaper.
From all these Chinese characters, how to select a good Chinese name for yourself could be a hiccup that makes you step back from doing it by yourself.
what makes a good Chinese name
A GOOD CHINESE NAME IS NOT A STRAIGHT TRANSLATION FROM YOUR NATIVE NAME
For example, “Mark”, a common Western name. It is usually translated by pronunciation as Chinese name “馬克” (Pronounce as “Ma-Ke-“). The name sounds foreign to Chinese because we know that it does not carry any meaning at all. The first character “馬” literally means “horse”, while the second character “克“ simply means “gram”.
Another example, “Dean”, an English name. If you translate it straightly from its English pronunciation, you will get a Chinese name like “碘” or “巔” which might be laughed at. The word “碘” means “iodine”, which is not as welcomed as gold. The other word “巔” means “top of the mountain” which seems not bad, right? Unfortunately, the word “巔” pronounces exactly the same as another word “癲” which means “madness”.
A GOOD CHINESE NAME SHOULD BE IN LINE WITH THE COMMON PRACTICE OF CHINESE CULTURE
Chinese is written in logographic scripts, while English is a kind of Latin scripts. The two types of languages differ so much from each other and they share no commons at all in linguistic, cultural, or historical background.
Although both English and Chinese names are composed of surname and given name, their structures are different. In Chinese names, the surname comes first usually in one to two characters. Then the given name follows, also in one to two characters. A typical Chinese name consists of three characters, whereas the range could stretch from two to four. Range beyond this number is possible, but uncommon.
The given names are chosen from characters of the entire Chinese language. Some characters, usually those symbolize good luck, good will and good fortune, are more favorable and popularly used than the others. In addition, people in different era tend to have different preferences in the choice of names.
The shape of Chinese characters is an art too. So, combining the good will and the beauty of Chinese characters, you may have a good decent Chinese name in Traditional Chinese.
A GOOD CHINESE NAME IS CREATED FROM THE WISDOM OF CHINESE PHILOSOPHIES
Ancient Chinese Philosophies could be applied in creating a good Chinese name. One of those important philosophies is the five-elements theory.
The five elements represent five types of energies: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Theoretically, the five elements symbolize the five basic substances that constitute the material world.
These substances are inter-related. One generates another and at the same time restricts the third one. They are set in a status of constant motion and change, which is the principle of mutual creation and destruction among the five elements in nature.
These five types of energies were allocated to different days, months and years in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, which is still in use today. Applying the five-elements theory into the creation of names means conforming to the nature.
To create a good Chinese name for a foreigner, firstly I will check up his/her birthday in the Chinese calendar to know the type of element that he/she belongs to and what are the implied strengths and weaknesses. With reference to his/her perspective of life, I may start selecting proper Chinese characters for the creation of a good Chinese name.
To check or to pick a name for a Chinese, the same process applies too.
One more technique has to be kept in mind – each Chinese character carries its own type of elements too. For example, the Chinese character “炎” belongs to the “fire” element group. So if one person belongs to the “earth” group, choose a name from the” fire” group may help the person to shine because fire will help to grow earth.
Below lists a table that may give you a quick reference to the five elements allocated generally to the seasons.
|Five elements||Season||Environmental factor||Growth & development|
A GOOD CHINESE NAME INCORPORATES THE NUMEROLOGY OF STROKE COUNT
The number of strokes of a Chinese name is used as a prediction of a person’s luck. It’s a kind of metaphysics orientated from Japan since 1918, and became popular from then on.
We count the strokes of every Chinese character in a name. The number of strokes ranges from 1 to 81. Since most names are composed of two to four words, we’ll get a combination of numbers. Each combination carries different meaning and destiny. So, one may avoid the bad numbers to avoid bad luck, e.g. 20, 24 or 34 are some of the bad numbers one should avoid.