Naming babies with 'Chinese characteristics'

( Xinhua ) Updated: 2017-02-04 09:50:33

New born babies bring joy, of course, but also troubles with how to name them.

Names matter, Chinese agree, and that is why parents go to great lengths to devise auspicious and fitting names for their children.

"It is better to teach your children a craft, than to give them a thousand pieces of gold; it is better to give them a good name than to teach them a craft," said an advertisement for, a popular website providing naming services for new parents.

Decades ago, Chinese parents cared less about names.

"Probably because their parents did not go to school, some used dog or bitch for given names," said Hu Weining, head of household registration in the Honggutan New District of Nanchang, capital of eastern China's Jiangxi province. Her team, part of the city police, deals with registration documents for new babies, and she has worked there for 20 years.

She said that in the last two decades better-educated parents have started to care about names and even pay for names for their children.

According to Chinese custom, names that have been used by elder people in the family cannot be used for babies. Young parent do not like their children to share their names with others.

"Uniqueness is the new standard. Many people use complex Chinese characters to differentiate from others," Hu said.

Trying to avoid repeating someone else's name is a difficult task. Since Jan 1, 2016, China relaxed its one-child policy to allow all married couples to have two children. In the last year, millions of babies were born, and how to name them became a sweet headache.

"It can't be tacky, or strange. It should sound nice, but first and foremost it must be different from others," said Wang Chunhua, a 30-year-old mother who gave birth to a boy in November last year. Her older daughter is seven.

Wang spent weeks going through Chinese dictionaries, looking for a proper and nice enough name for her son. She consulted with her husband and her relatives, and asked them to vote. Finally, she said: "Let's name him Yuxuan [meaning having an imposing appearance], nice meaning, and not common around me."

As it turns out, according to a December report by Qimingtong, a naming service company, in cooperation with Tsinghua University, Yuxuan is a common name. It ranked fourth as the most common names for boys in 2015, according to the report based on the data of 5.4 million babies born that year.

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