Now in Chinese you can basically take any character you like, perhaps combine it with another character and make a name. But some Chinese people don’t realise that in English, there are names and then there are words, and those words can’t really become names just because you say so. “Yes” from Taiwan certainly doesn’t agree with that.
So you get this trend Chinese people coming to the west with some really strange names, like Elephant, or Goose or Sarin – yeah the chemical weapon Sarin- and this isn’t just a phenomenon amongst a few weirdos, there are some pretty respectably people with names that Westerners would think are strange. Just ask Nectar Gao who writes for the South China Morning Post.
Now I personally have known Chinese people in the west called Cactus, Cloud, Echo, Shimmery. That last one’s an adjective, not even a noun! And there are some even stranger ones that I have heard about on the internet.
Say hello to Robo, Fender, Panzer II.
One guy even adopted an English last name as well, and called himself Michael Schumacher!
There is also a trend for some Chinese girls to call themselves Cinderella. Someone needs to tell them that in the story or at least the modern adaptations of it Cinder (meaning soot, or burnt ashes) is added before the name Ella as a derogatory term. You would think they would get the hint from the Chinese translation of the name, 灰姑娘 Miss Ash. Really these girls should be calling themselves Ella, which is a perfectly good name.
Now to be fair, some westerners are not helping the situation, I’m talking to you Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. He called his daughter Apple. Or Bob Geldof who called his daughter Peaches. Not just one peach, it’s plural. So maybe fruit inspired names are okay?
Anyway I’m going to do some charity work now, to all Chinese people who are coming to the west, 我可以幫你取名字。I can help you choose a name. 取名字 is how we say choose a name in Chinese.
So if you have an idea for a name, send it to our Learn CHinese Now page on Facebook and I will tell you if you need to change it or not. For example if you want to be called Slander, I will probably suggest Simon. If you want to be called Tomorrow, I will suggest Tom. Perhaps you want to be called Bill Cosby, in that case I’ll just tell you to steer clear of that all together!