Tag Archives: English names in China

Unique chosen names


It’s been so long since I’ve written regularly that I don’t even remember what I’ve written about. The good thing is that I have an extensive amount in my archives so when I leave I have this to look back on. The bad thing is that I have an extensive amount in my archives. I don’t have the time or inclination to see if I’ve already written about names or not. I’m fairly certain that I have not included this awesome list that Anders, my friend NN, Chinese teacher, and I have been compiling for 2 years now.

When Chinese students take English classes (it’s mandatory, hear that USA?, it’s mandatory that they learn English and they don’t complain about it). I apologize for the rant. 😉 they must choose an English name to use in class. Many of them keep this school name if they have contact with westerners when they join the work force.

Frequently they choose something similar phonetically to their Chinese name. Ben is an example. I don’t remember what his Chinese name is but I do remember when he said it that it sounded a lot like Ben. They sometimes, especially women, add ‘-ny’ of ‘-ly’ to their name. Fanny, Wenny, and  Lily are common examples. Then there are those people who like to be different, set themselves apart from the crowd and express their individuality. They are the ones that I appreciate the most. It’s easy to be like everyone else but it takes strength of character to be your own person. I’m just not so sure I would make the same choices but to each his own. My teacher assures me that they knew exactly what they are doing and made a conscious choice with full knowledge of the name’s meaning.

I commented to my Chinese teacher that I think they should keep their Chinese names, even if they need them for work. I asked why they don’t and she said mostly because it’s easier for us AND them. But it also avoids some difficulties or giggles when we mis-pronounce their Chinese names. She gave me a few examples and the best one was Yao Ming, the famous basketball player. When said without using proper Chinese tones and in our natural English intonation it is the same as saying I’m gonna kill you. Uh-huh! Her father’s name is another example of why they sometimes change their name. In China the order of names is reversed; last name first, first name last. If you reverse her father’s names (as is customary in his work) it means dust, as in a speck of.

I successfully avoided speaking/learning/taxing my brain with Chinese in my class on Friday for 20 minutes while we had this discussion. I haven’t forgotten that old trick of getting the teacher off on a tangent. 🙂

Now that I’ve educated you let me give you the pleasure of reading our favorites. These are all true, no names have been changed to protect the identity of the innocent. I have broken my rule of not supplying full names because in some of the examples you need first and last name to get the full effect.



Kinki Huo (gotta have both names)

Sugar Tang  ****sorry to those who read this post with just Sugar before I edited it. This is one that absolutely requires both names and I forgot to add it the first time around.****



* Mushroom






Swallow (we think/hope like the bird but not sure)





Suker (it is spelled correctly)

Omi (God?)



Maine (US state?)




Peter Pan (see? Only funny with first and last name)

Alger (not –ia)







Eleven (2 different people)


Phoenix (see Seven and Eleven above)

Windy Wang

Zephyr Zeng






*McKey (formerly known as Mushroom – she obviously thought this was a better choice since she made an effort to change it)

Which one is your favorite?

1:00PM – 90°