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Choosing my Chinese Name

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Katie Forte

Hello All!


I am just starting out on this grand adventure of learning Chinese! I'm trying to learn how to pick my Chinese name and I would like some help. I'd like to Choose a surname with the same meaning as my current surname: Forte, which means strong or with strength. My first name, Katherine, means pure or purity. I could also go with a first name tied to fire as all my astrological symbols point to fire, and fire is very strong within me, to a fault sometimes (interestingly strong fire brings out purity).


Thank you for your help!

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There's a recent video on the youtube channel Shuo Shuo Chinese which may be helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er-QsRE3wcA


(Teacher Shuo has some interesting content)


You can see a list of the most common Chinese surnames on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_common_Chinese_surnames


More general information on Chinese surnames: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_surname

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Eh, why does your Chinese name have to have anything to do with your English name?  It can be anything.  The best Chinese names are those given to you by Chinese people.  If you're just starting then you probably don't have any Chinese friends close enough to do something like give you a name.  So I say, pick a name but don't get married to it.  Once you're further along in your studies then you can get a different, better name.  TBH you don't really even need a Chinese name until you're around enough Chinese people that they don't know your English name.  

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I agree with @vellocet I think it’s better to choose a Chinese name once you are very familiar with the culture, naming convention and the language, then whether you choose it yourself or chosen by someone who knows you well, you can fully appreciate it and know whether you like it or not. 

some good advice from John Pasden and Jared Turner on names 




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All I would say is, work hard with a native speaker who you can bounce ideas off of, and take your time. You, and basically any Chinese learner, do not have the native intuition for names. You can get a bit of it the longer you study, i.e., you can pick up on more and more names as not working, but a non-native speaker will pretty much never be able to say with justifiable confidence that a name is good without knowing an actual Chinese person who has that name.


That said, it's also important for you to stick to your guns and pick a name that's meaningful for you, and not settle for something that doesn't appeal to you personally. I took literally months to choose my Chinese name, in a back and forth process of suggesting names to native speakers I was close to, reworking those names, scrapping those names, over and over, and I don't regret it as Chinese people like my Chinese name, but also find it unique and surprising in a positive way.


Don't rush to pick one and don't let someone pick one for you, that's all I can say.

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