Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Chinese Names

A JOKE in China goes that if you call out the name Wang Wei in the street at least one person is bound to respond.

The name Wei, or “Mighty”, is so popular that parents have been turning to ancient and esoteric dictionaries to find more unusual monikers for their children.
Not anymore. The Ministry of Public Security has drawn up new rules and babies’ names must in future be drawn from a database that excludes thousands of rare Chinese characters. Out go indecipherable names. With the introduction of electronic identity cards, the authorities will register only names that they decide to include on their database.

Bao Suixian, a deputy director at the ministry, said: “We cannot handwrite rare characters on the cards like we did before.” About 60 million of China’s 1.3 billion people have at least one rare character in their name, making it difficult for them to open a bank account or to buy an aircraft ticket.
The fashion for unusual names is understandable in a society emerging from decades of revolutionary fervour when many children were called “Leap Forward”, “Cultural Revolution”, “Safeguard the Red” or — possibly the most popular — “Found the Nation”.

- from The Times


Blogger Francis said...

If they want to be unique, they ought to choose the name of a Christian saint! How many Chinese do you know named John Chrysostom? =P

Thu Mar 23, 01:33:00 pm 2006  
Blogger Constantine said...

Incidentally, I do know of someone who is named after St John Chrysostom... he's a reader at my church =P

Sun Mar 26, 06:01:00 pm 2006  

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