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Archived Author Help > I need a Chinese man's name for a book character

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message 1: by James (new)

James Leth | 27 comments If anyone in this group is familiar with Chinese names, I'd like help coming up with a name for a male character of Chinese descent. I'm specifically looking for a name that has a meaning close to "random chance," but it has to work as a man's name (and not be a real, well-known historical or contemporary person). It would also help to know how friends would address him, ie a nickname or shortened name that friends and colleagues would use. Thanks very much if you can help me out.


message 2: by Morris (new)

Morris Graham (morris_g) Google Chinese male first names or Chinese surnames. There are plenty of lists. I do this all the time when dealing with foreign characters.


message 3: by Sydney (new)

Sydney Ledger (sydneyledger) | 3 comments I have a Chinese friend whose name is Wei Nan Ye. Ye is his last name, Wei Nan his first and we just call him Nan for short. His sister is Yu Yin Ye and his brother, I think, is Xan Ye


message 4: by Ben (new)

Ben Langdon I also google terms like: "Chinese actors", "Chinese swimmers", "Chinese politicians" etc... and then take a first name from one and a family name from the other.

Traditionally, Chinese family names would go first, then given names.

I have a character called Luke Ma. His traditional name is Ma Lok but since he moved to Australia as a child he 'westernised' it.

To create a westernised name or a nickname, look at the names you've chosen and make a leap - it's what people do. People usually give nicknames to others, rather than choose one themselves.


message 5: by Morris (new)

Morris Graham (morris_g) Traditional Chinese surnames do go first, but in America, they flip it, for instance, Bruce Lee.


message 6: by James (new)

James Leth | 27 comments I appreciate the responses, but remember I'm trying for a name that means "random chance" or close to it. Thanks.


message 7: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (last edited Jul 09, 2016 07:36PM) (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4353 comments Mod
As others have said, you can use Google to find all kinds of lists of names. I found several Chinese ones with a very quick search:

http://www.behindthename.com/names/us...
http://www.20knames.com/male_chinese_...
http://www.bestnamemeanings.com/Chine...

There are plenty more, too.

I don't see any that mean "random" or "chance", but Huiqing means "luck" and Xiang means "good luck".


message 8: by John Hooker (new)

John Hooker | 90 comments Randomness and chance are both modern and western and difficult to place in anything traditionally Chinese, but this paper might help:

"Fate, Fortune, Chance, and Luck in Chinese and
Greek: a comparative semantic history":

http://faculty.ucr.edu/~raphals/pubs/...


message 9: by C.C. (new)

C.C. Snow (cc_snow) | 12 comments I asked a friend and she said it's unlikely that Chinese parents would saddle their kid with a name that implies "random chance." She said they like to stack the deck in the kid's favor with a name that implies good fortune.


message 10: by Thane (new)

Thane Hounchell (hounchtp) | 3 comments Hong Tian. It was my Chinese name while I was in the program at school. It can be translated big sky or red sky.


Matthew Culberson | 15 comments Perhaps instead of random chance, the word for future?

Weilai Jin, his friends simply call him Way.


message 12: by James (new)

James Leth | 27 comments John wrote: "Randomness and chance are both modern and western and difficult to place in anything traditionally Chinese, but this paper might help:

"Fate, Fortune, Chance, and Luck in Chinese and
Greek: a comp..."


John, thanks very much for this, it looks like excellent background information for the story that I'm trying to write. Do you have some connection to this work or the author?


message 13: by James (new)

James Leth | 27 comments Matthew wrote: "Perhaps instead of random chance, the word for future?

Weilai Jin, his friends simply call him Way."


Thanks, Matthew, this might work. I take it "Weilai" is the word for future, and Jin is the patronymic?


Matthew Culberson | 15 comments Yes, James. The Chinese word for future is "Weilai".

Happy writing!


message 15: by James (new)

James Leth | 27 comments India wrote: "C.C. wrote: "I asked a friend and she said it's unlikely that Chinese parents would saddle their kid with a name that implies "random chance." She said they like to stack the deck in the kid's favo..."

Thanks India and C.C. This sounds correct. I'm reexamining my idea here. I tend to overthink names and get caught up in having them contain hidden meanings. It's a bit of an affectation, I guess, but if I ever get a fan base, then hidden clues in my books might stimulate discussion and keep my readers interested. Or so I hope.


message 16: by James (new)

James Leth | 27 comments Dwayne wrote: "As others have said, you can use Google to find all kinds of lists of names. I found several Chinese ones with a very quick search:

http://www.behindthename.com/names/us...
http://www.20kn..."


Yes, I've found some name generators and translators, but I was wary of putting the two together and ending up with a name that Chinese speakers would find offensive or silly. However, your suggestions of Huiqing and Xiang are good options. Thanks, Dwayne.


message 17: by John Hooker (new)

John Hooker | 90 comments James wrote: "Do you have some connection to this work or the author?

No, just a Google search.


message 18: by Ulff (new)

Ulff Lehmann | 7 comments I bought this book years ago and I have never regretted it.

https://www.scribd.com/doc/209876064/...

hope this helps


message 19: by James (new)

James Leth | 27 comments Ulff wrote: "I bought this book years ago and I have never regretted it.

https://www.scribd.com/doc/209876064/...

hope this helps"

Thanks, Ulff. This looks very interesting.


message 20: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 787 comments My latest novel is set in 1920's Shanghai so I know how this is as I had to come up with two Chinese names for my main characters. Someone told me I used a Japanese name but I did thorough research and like you James I wanted meanings behind the names. I chose "Ryu Tsang" and "Tsang" is a popular Chinese name that has something to do with family. For my villain character I picked "Shin Shaojin" which also translates to a meaning.

You have received a good amount of links and help in order gain and come up with some solid names. I would suggest going over them, play around with a few, pair them together and try to come up with the best fitting name for your character.

I'd also suggest considering some simple Chinese names for lesser important characters as someone told me I wasn't using all Chinese names for each character, I don't feel it's a big deal but ehh some people are picky. Just a thought for you to consider.


message 21: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Lightfoot (goodreadscomandrea17) | 79 comments Use this website :

http://www.behindthename.com/random/

It's got all sorts of names from different countries, fantasy, gothic, mythology, rapper, fairy, witch, biblical, classical Roman, you name it....


message 22: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Lightfoot (goodreadscomandrea17) | 79 comments ....and you can decide whether the name is male or female


message 23: by J.C. (new)

J.C. (kangzhuang) | 1 comments As others have said, Chinese would not choose a bad luck name for a kid, or even one that remotely sounded like bad luck (lots of homonyms in Chinese!). I definitely think Luck (Yun) and Fortune (Fu) would work.


message 24: by Tim (new)

Tim Rees | 123 comments Bruce is a good solid name for a Chinese man. Remember Bruce Lee? :D


message 25: by Annie (last edited Jul 25, 2016 12:44PM) (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) | 629 comments @Mr Tim: Bruce Less = (actually) Lee Jun-Fan *giggles*

EDIT: What the heck am I typing?? Bruce LEE hahahahaha!!!


message 26: by Tim (new)

Tim Rees | 123 comments Lee Jun Fanny...? :D Now that's a name! :D


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