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Is it worth it for a laowai to come up with a "real" Chinese name?


LuckyRice

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Hello,

I'm looking to go to Zheng University in Hangzhou for 2 years and have been trying to work out "James Henry" as a Chinese name.

1) Is it worth the effort to try to find a solid genuine-sounding one, or as an expat is it just irrelevant?

2) If it's irrelevant, would 亨吉米 be alright to use?

3) Would just 吉米 be alright to use? (Would people think that I'm omitting my surname and get uncomfortable?)

If it makes sense to get a Chinese name, are there any other variations you guys can think of?

My given name is James but everyone calls me Jimmy. A few call me Jameson, which I'm also used to.

I appreciate any and all advice. Even some sardonic witty comments (I've seen some gems, scouring through the forum archives for advice)

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I guess it matters what you're intending to do after your 2 years. If you plan to establish yourself at all while you're there, I'd say maybe put a tiny bit more thought into your name.

If you're really just there to hang out, I imagine "Hung Jimmy" would be an amusing new nickname.

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Consider 韓凌志 Han Ling Zhi. 韓 is the surname and represents Henry. 凌志 means 凌雲壯志 and represents ry and j. 凌志 is an excellent name, which is why it is the Chinese name of the car brand Lexus. Regardless I think it is great.

If you want to make more money, you could consider 韓利至 instead (but people don't really want to express this in their names). If you are a very rational person, you could consider 韓理智 or 韓理治.

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Totally unnecessary. If you want a Chinese name choose one; if you don't forget it.

I've lived in China for 18 years without a Chinese name - never been a problem.

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A Chinese name can be useful when you're studying in China.

Jimmy, do not choose 亨吉迷 or 吉迷 if you are serious about your studies.

Did you mean Zhejiang University?

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I think choosing my own Chinese name will give it no meaning, I'll wait till I'm going to get married and choose it with my future wife, that way it will have meaning.

Otherwise the last 7 years in China haven't really been any problem without one. It can become a got convo topic too.

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I have Chinese name that none of my Chinese colleagues use. I don't think it's necessary, but your school will probably insist you have one when you register. If you don't have one, they will pick one for you.

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Wow, thanks for the responses guys.

@ 陳德聰 That's a very valid point - I've seen a few people say that they regret the names they've chosen because they've had to use them longer than anticipated... I think my subconcious has been eating away at that idea and that's why I'm having trouble deciding.

@ skylee - I always think of Han as Korea and can never think of it as a surname, for some reason. I'm concerned about saying the tone wrong and saying 汗, or others saying it in mockery because I know it gets pretty warm and humid there, and I'm used to the temperature maxing out at 25 degrees in the summer. I really really like 智, though. I have a friend that has that as the first part of his given name.

@ liuzhou - My concern partially lies in my presentation towards people; I want to show that I care about the culture of the country I'm a guest in. I also want to make it easy for locals to say my name without being self-concious about their pronounciation. I imagine it to be like me saying the names of some of the Jamaican people I've met: their names are a bit too long for comfort; are hard to remember; and while not hard if broken down, are difficult to say on the first few run-throughs.

By the way, the picture of the guy with his stomach hanging out holding his crotch on your blog's charming.

@ Angelina - Yes, I do mean Zhejiang. I had a brainfart and combined "Zhe"jiang with Zhejia"ng" instead of calling it Zheda.

@ Matty - that's a cool way to go about it. I'm a bit too impatient for that, though. Also as Cat says, it's likely required by the school.

@ Cat - Thanks, them choosing one for me was part of my concern.

Do many people have 2-part names, rather than the Surname First First standard? Could I just use 智 as the given name part?

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Lots of people have one character for their surname and one character for their given name. 韩智 is a pretty normal guy's name.

If you don't like 韩 you can just pick a H-surname at random really. 何, 贺, 黄, 郝...

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I always think of Han as Korea and can never think of it as a surname, for some reason. I'm concerned about saying the tone wrong and saying 汗,
Then pick 汉 instead, that should solve both these problems :-)
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Best way to solve that problem is to learn your tones properly.

汉's a pretty rare surname. I work on the theory that if you're going to have a Chinese name, have a fairly unremarkable one to minimise the number of times you have to explain why you chose it, or that yes, you are aware of the meaning.

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Otherwise the last 7 years in China haven't really been any problem without one.

Wait 'til you change your name :mrgreen:

*You* might not have given yourself a Chinese name, but others you know will have given you a Chinese name - or at least a name by which they talk about you in Chinese. Good luck getting them to change that.

I went for two years without a Chinese name and then finally decided to choose one for myself because I was sick of people either a) mispronuncing my actual name or b) using a Chinese name for me that I didn't particularly like. Both problems went away after choosing a name I was happy with - although I still have a couple of friends from when I first came to Chinese who address me how they always have (i.e. using a transliteration of my actual name).

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Is 支 a family name that doesn't sound too strange? Foreigners, such as 支谶, were given this Chinese family name in the past. I was thinking about choosing it for myself. My full name is Angelina Zarkova and my current Chinese name is 安吉丽娜.

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Ah. . . I went through the process recently - for more or less the same reasons you have now.

I used one of those websites that come up if you search 起名 on Baidu. Now I can't find exactly which one it was but I just searched and there's a few. . .

Basically you input your surname character - just like me, seems like you have a surname that can be traslated to one character. . . which is nice and simplifies things - and your birthdate (and whether, for example, you want a one character or two character name part).The website responds a number of possible names that go well with your surname and other considerations (horoscope, elements, not sure what else). Then you can play around with that a little bit, for example if you like the sound but not the meaning of a character you can ask for alternatives with the same pronunciation.

I actually had a Chinese person help me find the site and browse name options - before that, I had thought up (by myself, no website) a bunch of "Chinese name" alternatives which I thought sounded cool and it turned out Chinese people thought were ridiculous. I suppose the website name suggestions are ok but I guess it's better to double-check with a few (educated) native speakers. Finding that kind of help comes along quicker and easier than you may think. . .

In the midst of this all, I also got a name suggestion from a teacher but I didn't like it - so I think it's better to look for one that makes sense to you yourself first and then ask locals for their opinion.

_____________

Ah. . . and to answer the should/shouldn't bit of your question:

I think you should get a proper Chinese name. Why? Why not? Some people couldn't care less but you already stated your reasons in post #8 which are valid. . . why would you then go against those reasons? Do you want to get a proper Chinese name? That's another question. . .

Personally, I generally don't like transliterated names at all, I find them silly.

As for the 韩 thing. . . if you mispronounce the tone. . . that can happen to almost any character I think; just open a dictionary.

If Chinese people think that's a valid surname, then I'd trust the Chinese. . . they know their language.

I'd be more careful with what happens sound/meaning-wise when you put it all together - that's why double checking with a few native speakers is a good idea.

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Alex, I guess you're right about the multiple meanings for words and tones meaning terrible things if changed.

It reminded me of this post which made me laugh pretty hard (but fuelled my concern for the name I choose)

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/39954-mandarin-speakers-please-help/#comment-300899

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I kind of always liked 闫鹏 for a potential Chinese name, just becuase I like the characters. 闫 is not common but not uncommon either. 鹏 is a big bird. Neither of these sound like my English name at all.

If I were you, I'd just use the Chinese translation for Henry James. Your last name will be in front, like the Chinese, and you get the same name as one of the greatest American novelists. 亨利·詹姆斯 What's not to like?

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I like 曾, mainly because I think it looks like a bug。 First time I saw it was in a HSK exam I had for fun 6 years ago on my birthday.

Now I've come to the south I've seen many people with this family name.

I've become quite fond of it.

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