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How do you choose your Chinese name?


Many students of Chinese adopt a Chinese name. We want to give you some advices on how to find one that feels and sounds right.

If you are looking for a name that will be with you for a long time, so do your research and take your time.

Many people get their first Chinese name by transliteration of their own name. Which is easy to remember but it has no ‘spirit’ in Chinese character. That’s why more and more foreign students or foreigner want to get a cool and authentic Chinese Name.

English-speakers who study French, Spanish or Russian don’t generally get a new name. But just as it’s not unusual for Chinese people to take English names when they study English, many foreigners who study Chinese or live in China adopt a Chinese name.

So why is it important to get it right, what’s in a name? Culture, custom and a rich history: in short, quite a lot. Chinese names are structured differently from names in English. Family names come first, and are only one syllable long. Given names – what we usually call first names – are either one or two characters long. So for example Mao Zedong’s family name is Mao and his given name is Zedong. There are a very limited number of family names - the vast majority of Chinese people have one of the 100 most common surnames. Names that don’t start with one of these surnames often won’t be readily recognised as a personal name.

Names that sound like real Chinese names show a level of seriousness and respect towards Chinese culture and language. Adopting a Chinese name can also be an opportunity. Chinese parents often give children names that express hopes about the child’s future, and in Chinese philosophy, a good name (usually based on factors such as the person’s time and place of birth, and the family name) is considered critical to a person’s success in life. Those studying the language can use their Chinese name to express their values, aspirations and even sense of humour.

We take a Chinese name Ling Yunlong (凌云龙) for example. Ling is a surname and also can mean “soaring” while Yunlong means “cloud dragon”. The name was inspired by a Tai Chi Chuan movement, called Cloud Dragon Playing in Water. The characters 凌云 also form the first half of an idiom that means “to have lofty aspirations”.

It’s near impossible for a foreigner to understand all the nuances a name might have. Is it the name of a villain in a classic novel? Is it unlucky or a homonym with an unlucky word? Does it just sound weird?


Below is some tips to get your Chinese name:


Be clear what you are aiming for


Your primary goal should be to have a name that sounds like it could be a real Chinese person’s name, but you also want something that you identify with.

Choose your surname first

I would strongly encourage you to choose one of the 100 most common Chinese surnames. This ensures Chinese people will recognise your name as a person’s name rather than a thing or a place.


Keep it short

Your full name should be two or three characters long. The surname is one character, and your given name can be either one or two characters long.

Ask for help

If you’re only just thinking about getting a Chinese name, it’s likely you are not an expert Chinese speaker yet. Even if you are, there are so many cultural nuances involved with finding an appropriate Chinese name that you should make sure to run any possibilities by at least two native speakers.


Don’t name yourself after a celebrity

In China, it is considered extraordinarily immodest to name a child after a famous person, a taboo that has roots in imperial laws that forbade citizens from having the same name as the emperor.


Share your name with your family

If members of your family are also sinophiles, it makes sense to share the same Chinese surname with them if you also share the same English surname, but it’s not required. Women in mainland China do not generally take their husband’s name, so married couples don’t need to have the same surname.


IPanda has professional team to create a cool Chinese name for you based on your sex and personality. This is your opportunity to get an authentic and different name from us. We will provide you a certificate for your Chinese name indicating below elements:

  1. Your Chinese name in Chinese character

  2. The meaning of your name

  3. Where is your surname come from?

  4. Who is the famous person in acient China with same surname?

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