A couple of weeks ago, a friend and co-worker approached Da and offered to help him choose a Chinese name. Da was ecstatic but underestimated the amount of time and effort that his friend would put into the project! Apparently there is an art to choosing a Chinese name and they want to meet several criteria. When choosing a Chinese name for a Westerner, there is a desire to make the name as similar to their real name as possible. That adds to the difficulty when you consider that names need to meet certain requirements. #1. they need to be “real” or recognizable names and #2. they have to have a good meaning.
After many conversations in person and via email, Da was given a list of names for both himself and for me. He was directed toward the favorite choices of both the co-worker and his wife (who also works with Da) and those are the names we ended up choosing.
- Da’s name is ?? meaning “love and forest.” The pinyin (and pronunciation) is Ài S?n. This will serve as both his first and last name in China. Many Chinese have three names, a surname and two characters for their first name, but it is also not uncommon to have just two characters for your full name.
- Marmee’s name is ?? meaning “peace and girl.” The pinyin is ?n N?. This will also serve as both my first and last name. In China women do not take their husbands last names as their own and if I did, people might take us to be brother and sister rather than husband and wife. (That would be strange considering we are often holding hands in public!)
At about the same time, our violin/viola teacher (also Chinese) asked to see the characters for our Chinese kids names. When she looked at them, she decided that we needed to make a couple of changes so that they would not sound so much like “orphan names.” Thus, Líng X?ng meaning “Zero Star” became Líng X?ng ?? meaning “Spiritual Star” and Jia Jing meaning Family Crystal became Ji? J?ng ? ? meaning Excellent Crystal. Our teacher (l?osh? YuLing) also gave Xuxu a Chinese name that follows the translation of her real name, her Chinese name is Ti?n Sh? ??, meaning angel. (Fitting if I do say so myself!) We are still talking about Lè W?n’s ? ? name, and have yet to make a decision about its final form. (Ha ha…we seem to be following tradition on that point!)
I plan to start using our Chinese names on this blog, and I will post a photo representing each person in the side bar so you know who I am referring to in the near future. (Do not worry, I will use the pinyin spelling so that you don’t have to try and figure out the characters!)
Thank you to Keming, Minyan and Yuling for the help in creating our names! All of you are so wonderful and we are very happy to have you in our lives!