This article is less about stories about my crazy Chinese family and more about some other struggles. It’s about names, to be more precise, family names and children names.
Up till now I got to know several “mixed” couples, most of them where the women is Chinese and the man is European. Of all of those couples who married, the wife kept her Chinese name. Nothing wrong with that as in China it is usual that both partners keep their own family names. In Europe it’s another matter, it’s still not that common that the wife keeps her own name or that the husband changes his family name (Still I know several cases).
My wife didn’t want to change her name as well as she wanted to keep her “Chinese” roots but also wanted to have something more “European”. In the end she decided to have a double family name, with her old one first and then the new one added to the back. Those double family names are not that uncommon either, especially in Germany where you can find nowadays a broad variety of those added names, sometimes resulting in very funny combinations. (For example “Große-Flasche” translates into “Big-Bottle” and many more I better not list here).
When asking our friends about the reasons they kept their own Chinese name they normally said that they don’t want to have any silly European name. But then again, there is still a high discrimination in Europe towards foreigners. For example when applying for jobs many applications are never being opened due to a foreign sounding name. Sad but true.
How to name your child
This is another tricky topic as we are also awaiting our son to be born soon. His name? No idea yet. Okay, this is not entirely true. We have some names already on our mind but we haven’t decided on any specific one yet. We are aiming for a name which can be used both in German language and in English language. Reasons? Well, we plan to move back to Germany later and we want at the same time that the name is time usable for English speakers. (Oh, English speakers have often trouble with my name…). So finding a good sounding name, which can be pronounced in German and in English is very important to us.
We also wish to give our son a second given name. This name will be a Chinese one. As we are more than troubled enough to decide on the first name we have outsourced the task for the Chinese name to mom in law. Just imagine how happy she must be, tinkering each day on possible combinations…
None of our friends in Chinese-European relations have children yet, so we shall be setting a naming example for them. Better be good though 😉
What are your experiences with family names or about finding a great name for a child?
2 thoughts on “Names”
My wife only has her family (clan) name and a single given name (Ying), so she decided when we got married to take my family name as hers too. At my suggestion she used her Chinese family name as her middle name to maintain her family roots.
As of now we are living in China and my wife and I welcomed a baby girl. The wife decided the baby’s legal name would be English, (and she would be a US citizen) so after some discussion we settled on Lexi May, but the family decided early on they would call her 小美 (Xiao Mei/Little American). To keep things simple, she decided to use the baby’s Chinese name when we went to see the doctor on her checkups.
Somehow our son ended up being called by his Chinese relatives 小老外 (Xiao Laowai/ Little foreigner) even though he has even a Chinese middle name.
As a first name he has a name which can be easily used as an English name or also in a German version “Nathan”, then comes the Chinese name, then a Finnish name and finaly his family name 🙂