Our students and staff come from all over the world. Many students in the Faculty of Management come from China. The names of these students and staff can be hard to understand for those who do not know Chinese. The Chinese language contains over 80,000 characters. In English, the Chinese names are in pinyin.
Unfortunately, the English translation does not have the tones used in Chinese. The 26 letters of the alphabet cannot show the beautiful and unique qualities of the Chinese name. In Chinese characters, names might tell the good fortunes the family hopes for, a meaningful location, or whether the person is male or female. While Chinese names might appear to be similar in the English alphabet, in Chinese characters, these names are more individual.
In China, 85% of the population uses one of the top 100 surnames. The most common Chinese surnames are Li, Wang, Zhang, Liu, and Chen. In English, the given name comes first, but in Chinese the family name comes first.
The given name combined with the family name creates an individual name. For example, fourth year student Miranda Ding’s Chinese name is Xueqian Ding. Miranda was born during a snowstorm, and her parents used two Chinese characters, xue, meaning “snow”, with qian, meaning “beautiful”, to create her unique name. In the Chinese character, Professor Jing (Jenny) Chen’s given name 静 indicates that she is female, and the name holds the meaning quiet, silent, or calm.
Shiying Liu, the fall term co-op student for ISSP, has a name that encompasses her parents’ dreams for her. Shi (诗) means “poetry”. Her parents used Shi (诗) as the first character of her name in hopes that she can be a person rich in culture and knowledge. Ying (颖) means something unique or innovation, which symbolizes her parents’ hope that she be talented and smart. Shiying says, “Most Chinese people will say my name Shiying Liu (柳诗颖) is filled with the feeling of poetic beauty.”
Danjun (Eva) Cheng’s name also embodies the characteristics her family hopes she will carry with her. Eva explains,“Dan (丹) from means peony which is one kind of flower. This kind of flower represents beauty, elegance, noble temperament and wealth in China, so my parents wish I can grow up just like the peony. And jun (君), this character means to be an honest man or gentlemen. It used to describe a man before, but nowadays you can use it to praise someone who is upright, sincere, truthful, and never sneaky and who can always have positive attitude and energy, so my parents want me to be this kind of person in the future.”
To help you remember the Chinese name and to learn about your international friends, ask them the story of their names. They will appreciate your interest in the unique story within the rich and beautiful Chinese characters.