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How To Get Meaningful Names In Chinese Symbols

It is more and more fashionable to have names in Chinese symbols printed in their business cards for western people who work in China or have business interactions with Chinese. And it is even more fashionable to have a native-like meaningful Chinese name rather than an imitation of the original pronunciation using Chinese characters.

Why? On the one hand, it is very difficult to imitate English pronunciations using Chinese characters. Chinese characters are symbols that describe object shapes. The pronunciations of Chinese characters are relatively simple. Each Chinese character has either one vowel or two connected vowels.

At the same time, western language characters are symbols that describe pronunciations. Words in western language often have two or more syllables. The pronunciations of western words are much more complex. One English word may need three, four or more Chinese characters to imitate the sound. Also the lack of soundless consonants makes it difficult to imitate the English name pronunciation using Chinese characters.

When you read out your Chinese name that is translated by pronunciation, you will find its pronunciation is often not really similar to your original name.

For example, western name "Edward" by pronunciation will be translated into Chinese as "艾德沃德", which is actually pronounced as "ai-der-wor-der". It just sounds funny. Actually when Chinese people say it, it will sound even more funny because of the four tones of Chinese characters.

Such kind of sound-imitating names in Chinese symbols won't make your Chinese friends feel easy to remember or feel good to call you. So this is not really meaningful.

On the other hand, Chinese characters are very meaningful and there are a large number of them you can choose for your name. Chinese names can be very diversified and meaningful. However, sound-imitating names in Chinese symbols only use a very limited range of characters and are losing the chance to use meaningful Chinese characters.

The good approach to get native-like Chinese names

The good approach is to give a typical three-character Chinese name. It only needs to have roughly similar pronunciation to your original name.

Such a name will be very easy for your Chinese friends to remember and to call you. And it is so impressive that it will dramatically shorten the distance between you and your Chinese counterparts.

How to get such a native style Chinese name? Two steps.

1. Pick a typical Chinese family name that has roughly similar pronunciation to your surname as your Chinese surname.

Because you are choosing from typical Chinese surnames, this will guarantee that your name sounds very Chinese native-like. For examples, the following are some Chinese surnames that I would like to recommend for some western surnames:

Examples of Chinese family names
picked for western surnames
Western Surname Chinese Surname Chinese pronunciation
O'Connor郝 or 康hau or kaang

Click here for a list of Chinese surnames sorted in alphabetical order of pinyin.

Click here for Hundred Families Surname Poem.

2. Pick two Chinese characters as your given name. They only need to have roughly similar pronunciation to your original given name. They should better carry meanings of good human character, fortune or morality etc.

This step is most important. Chinese characters carry information that has connection with the universe. Your Chinese name will largely affect your friends' impression on you.

In the earliest Chinese version of the famous novel "Gone with the Wind", the translator gave every figure in the novel a very Chinese-native-like name. I think it very well done. I put the main characters' names here as examples.

Examples of good full names in Chinese symbols
picked for western people
Western NameChinese NameChinese pronunciationMeaning of characters
Scarlett O'Hara郝思嘉hao-ssss-jia郝:typical Chinese surname having same pronunciation as "好", which means "good"
思: think
嘉:beautiful, fine.
Rhett Butler白瑞德bye-rui-der白:typical Chinese surname, which means "white"
瑞:jade used as tally, or sign of luck
Ashley Wilkes卫希礼way-shee-lee卫:Chinese surname, which means "protect"
希: hope
礼:etiquette or courtesy
Melanie Hamilton韩梅兰han-may-lan韩:typical Chinese surname
梅:plum blossom

The most impressive western person's Chinese name that I know is my friend Mr. Leeshai Lemish's name. His Chinese name is 林理善. It is pronounced in Chinese as lin-lee-shan, which sounds very similar to his original name. Its meaning is also very good. 林 is a typical Chinese surname, which means woods; 理 means treat, administer or put in order;善 means compassion. What an excellent name!

So now you can understand: names in Chinese symbols are not equal to just a few sound-imitating Chinese characters. You must have well-selected Chinese characters!

Practical tips on getting good names in Chinese symbols

It is easy to say but not easy to do. Even for native Chinese, to pick a name for their own child is a very challenging task. For foreigners who do not know a lot of Chinese characters, this is more challenging. Of course you can ask your Chinese friends for help.

Nowadays, most Chinese people do not know about "Book of Changes" or "Five Elements" any more. Generally people do not know how to give a name according to real traditional Chinese astrology. However, if you can follow the tips below and try to avoid picking those very unfavorable characters, you will be able to get a not bad Chinese name.

  1. The superficial meaning of the Chinese characters you pick for your name should be good.
  2. Judge with your direct sense to see if you yourself like it.
  3. You must avoid those typical drawbacks in naming. Please ask your Chinese friends to help you go through following list.
    1. Avoid using characters that are the same as or have similar pronunciation to the name of any famous ancestor, emperor, renowned person etc. This is completely opposite to western culture that people like to give children names that are the same as Saints or Bible figures. In traditional Chinese society it was big crime to call the Emperor's name directly.
    2. Avoid using those very rarely-used characters.
    3. Avoid using characters that have multiple pronunciations, which makes people not sure how to call you.
    4. If the whole name's characters let one feel not easy to pronounce, it should be avoided.
    5. Avoid using characters that are too simple, too fashionable, too show-off.
    6. Avoid using characters that have similar pronunciation to words of vulgar or bad meanings.

An online tool for getting meaningful names in Chinese symbols

There is a good online tool to recommend native-like Chinese names to you according to your birth date, gender, and desired essence of name. It offers five kinds of desired essence for your to choose:

  • Personal Character and Skill
  • Wealth and Fortune
  • Beauty and Appearance
  • Mind and Intelligence
  • Strength and Power

After you input all the required information, it will produce a three-character Chinese name. For each produced name, it has English explanations of each character. You can listen to each character's Chinese pronunciation with a simple click on the character.

I have tested it with several English names. The results were pretty good.

Another excellent feature of the tool is that it can produce different names if you run it multiple times, even when you input all the same desired essence, gender and birth date. So you can try many times, each time save the output web page as "single-file Web archive". Then collect all the names in Chinese symbols nominated and discuss with your Chinese friends to choose the one that you like best.

Click here to try the online tool to find meaningful names in Chinese symbols.

Have got a name in Chinese symbols?

Have you got a Chinese name? Why not share with us how you got it, what its meaning is and what your original name is?

If you don't have a Chinese name, you can get one by following the above guidance. You can also share Chinese names of people you know, or simply post a request below and let other visitors suggest some Chinese names to you.

If you don't know how to type the Chinese characters of the name, you can write it down and scan or take a picture of it with your mobile phone. Then upload it using the picture uploading function below.

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Giving a Chinese Name According To the Meaning Of English Name 
Dear Ming, Could I choose the chinese words for the meaning of my English name rather than choosing one that sounds like my English name? My given …

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