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UK teen makes a name with English monikers

By ANGUS McNEICE | China Daily UK | Updated: 2016-11-15 18:34

UK teen makes a name with English monikers

Beau Jessup checks out her English name website. [Photo/China Daily]

British schoolgirl business-owner Beau Jessup is teaming up with the Chinese mothering website BabyTree to help parents pick English names for their children.

Less than two years ago, 17-year-old Jessup created the website SpecialName, a baby-naming service that has since generated more than 260,000 English names for Chinese users. The site has earned her 50,000 pounds ($62,415).

In her partnership with BabyTree, Jessup will write a weekly blog that explores the origins and meanings behind English names and offer readers tips on how to choose an appropriate one.

"It's quite overwhelming, because I didn't expect it to become this big," Jessup said. "I was in China with my dad when he was doing business about two years ago. One of his work colleagues asked me to suggest an English name for her 3-year-old daughter."

Jessup asked the woman to describe her daughter and learned she liked to surprise people with her achievements.

"I gave it some thought and suggested Eliza, inspired by Pygmalion (the play by George Bernard Shaw). That's where the idea sprang from," she said.

She ended up creating a website with 4,000 English names.

Visitors click on the gender and then select five characteristics from a list of 12 that include elegance, intelligence, sensitivity and honesty. The site generates three names that match those qualities. Users pay 60p to access the service.

Wu Meng, a user from China, heard about the site from a friend and chose the name Daisy for her daughter.

"Having an English name has become essential nowadays," she said.

Jessup said the decision of many Chinese people to select English alternatives to their names reflects the rapid increase in cross-cultural links.

"Because of business and education, there's an increasing amount of communication with the West," Jessup said.

Lindsay Jernigan, a US citizen in Shanghai, started a naming website called BestEnglish-Name, which is now the bilingual multimedia site Benku8. She said Chinese people have at times ended up with inappropriate names drawn from Western brands or pop culture, such as Rolex or Gandalf.

"Sometimes, it comes from direct translation of a Chinese name. Someone will say, 'my Chinese name means green, can I be called Green?'" Jernigan told China Daily.

"It's difficult to explain that you can be called Violet or Scarlet, but it would be strange to be called Green. Often people will have chosen a fun name when they are younger, but then they are stuck with it. All of a sudden they are working a job in Shanghai with lots of Western coworkers and being referred to as Cinderella!"

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