Finding your perfect English name

By Tiffany Tan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-03-12 07:23:17

Finding your perfect English name

When Phantom meets Tears, you can be sure something vivid will happen. Tiffany Tan reports.

How can a person stand out in a country of 1.35 billion? One safe, inexpensive and relatively stress-free way is to choose an unusual English name.

Finding your perfect English name

Moderation trumps prejudice 

Finding your perfect English name

A hop, skip and a jump to nowhere 

At least 795 people share Zhang Chaoyu's name, according to the online name database But how many of them are also called Lavendery? Probably no one but the Beijing high school student, who wanted a "more graceful-sounding" version of "lavender", the English equivalent of her Chinese nickname.

"I'd thought about changing my English name, because Lavendery has more letters than common English names, and some Chinese people can't easily remember its spelling," the 15-year-old says. "But I love it. It's my unique symbol..

Ji Yanyan feels the same way about Cereal. Of course, it is more commonly found on breakfast tables than business cards, but there is no doubt her English name makes an impression.

"Both foreigners and Chinese say that it's extraordinary, and people always remember me," says Ji, 25, an editor with a trade publication in Beijing.

Her name choice was inspired by the 2007 film Flakes, which starred one of her favorite US actresses, Zooey Deschanel. The movie title's Chinese translation included "oats", a homonym of Ji's Chinese nickname and something she loved to eat, so she picked a related word with the help of a dictionary.

Chinese people usually get an English name in high school or college English class. Others get one once they start working and regularly deal with foreigners, who may have trouble pronouncing their Chinese names.

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