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Marcelo Santos

I choose my Chinese name as 武 and surname as 威聖. Is it a good choice?

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Marcelo Santos

Hi, it would be some another futile question, but there's someone arguing with me that WU 武 would be the surname, instead of WEISHENG 威聖.


I choose this name because:

武 means "martial", the meaning of "Marcelo"

威聖 - the stressed sylabe-based of "oliVEIra" and "SANtos". Santos also means "Saint" (coincidence)


Should the surname be wu? or is it acceptable the way i pretend? Thank you.

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Wikipedia has some information on Chinese names. In short, in Chinese names, the family name ('surname') comes first, followed by the given name ('first name'). So president Xi Jinping's family name is Xi, his given name is Jinping. He has the same family name as his father Xi Zhongxun.


I like your choice of name, 武威圣 (but wait for a native speaker to confirm it is good). 武 would be your family name ('surname') and 威圣 your given name. It does mean that you accidentally made a Chinese surname out of your original given name and vice versa, but that is not really a problem. I once knew a guy named Roy who chose the surname 王 and made a given name to match his original surname, and he ended up with a very nice Chinese name (which I forgot, but it was good).


I hope this answers your question!

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The vast majority of Chinese surnames are a single character. Your choice of surname would definitely be unconventional.


Where you do find double surnames like your choice is for the descendents of Chinese immigrants to other places such as Mauritius. These original immigrants went out of China looking for work. When arriving in their new country, they would state their name and the official, not knowing Chinese naming convention, would write the last two names as the surname. These new immigrants were typically illiterate and of course, didn't understand the language of the new country.


For the descendants, the result is that they lost knowledge of their original surname. But since they are illiterate in Chinese and far away from Chinese culture, it doesn't affect them.


It would be your name and unconventional to choose it like that. A person from China will probably say "what sort of person told you you can write your name like that?" Especially as you have a typical Chinese surname within the three characters.

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So you want your family name to be 威聖 and your personal name to be 武, which means that by Chinese convention you'll be 威聖武. And that means everyone, no matter what you say, will formally call you 威先生. Or informally perhaps 聖武老友.


You can take 武 as your surname to resolve this, and become 武威聖. But at least be aware that 武威 is a city in Gansu, so you'd be heading towards a fine name for a football team. 武威聖徒隊.

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On 6/12/2019 at 2:16 AM, Marcelo Santos said:

Should the surname be wu? or is it acceptable the way i pretend?


If you only ever go to China accompanied by a translator, then as a foreigner's name, 武·威聖 should be acceptable on your business card in my opinion.


If you intend to learn Chinese and/or use your Chinese name in administrative forms,

having a 2-character surname which is not in the list of historical 2-character surnames will probably cause confusion.

Chinese law has only recently allowed forming new 2-character surnames for children by combining the 1-character surnames of both parents.

People will not expect a "new" 2-character surname to be chosen by a grown up foreigner as a Chinese surname.

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