What's in a name?

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 August, 2008, 12:00am

There are general rules to consider with regard to Chinese names. First and foremost, they have to be easy to pronounce. If all three characters have the same consonant or vowel, the name will be difficult to enunciate. Characters with different consonants that may be similar in sound should also be avoided. Nor should the characters be of the same tone, otherwise the name may sound ungainly.

With regard to the characters when written, those that are extremely complex with too many strokes should be avoided, otherwise children and others will find them difficult to write. Besides which, the name may be difficult to decipher. Names that have too few strokes are also to be avoided, as they appear weak, coarse and lacking in form when written. Constructing a name from characters that are rarely used is not recommended, as this will cause others to mispronounce or forget it. The ideal Chinese names are those that are balanced in terms of number of strokes and forms in tandem with the surname.

The meaning of the name is also vital. As extremely different Chinese characters may share the same pronunciation, make sure the name does not bring to mind homonyms with negative associations and connotations. At times, the overall meaning of the generation and personal names may be changed when the surname is factored in.