Have You Chosen a Name Yet?

This is a post dedicted to many eager family members and friends who asked the question 🙂

The short answer is: no.

The long answer is: we’ve established the criteria and given some thoughts. We’ve shortlisted a few names and we have been giving ourselves some time to make a final decision. The name will be revealed at the birth.

The criteria we have is: it has to be a name that sounds ‘normal’ in French, in Chinese, and in English. (a note to Paola – so yes totally in line with your comments)

There are a few things I need to explain first perhaps, so that you may understand why it’s becoming such a task!

First, the name will have two written versions, one in alphabet letters and another in Chinese characters. Instead of giving a French/English name AND a stand-alone Chinese name (for example Bob and 小明/XiaoMing), ,which is not uncommon, we want the two versions to sound at least similar if not same.

Secondly, Chinese ‘first name’ is always either one character or two characters, and since each Chinese character is always strictly just one syllable, that means that any given Chinese firm name will correspond to maximum two syllables. So this poses a limitation to the French/English version of the name if we want them to sounds close. Names like Elizabeth/Margarate are out of the game …

Thirdly, we do not want a name that is too difficult to pronounce in any of these languages. That basically put the names starting with ‘j’ (totally different pronunciation in French & Chinese & English) / ‘h’ (french doesn’t pronounce it usually) out of job.

Lastly, we want a name that is not too common, yet not too ‘strange’ either.

So … yes we’re scratching our heads …

Nicolas has a Chinese name 庞(family name) 念恺 (‘Pang NianKai’ in pinyin, the mainland chinese pronunciation system), a loose phonetic translation from Binse (family name) Nicolas, his ‘real’ name. It can pass as an authentic Chinese name however it needs some explanation before one recognises its similarity with the origional name.

I have been using the phonetic version of my Chinese name 茵 – Yin – as given name in non-Chinese speaking environment, which sounds immediately non-English.

While I like both of our names, we’d like to find a name that meets our criteria as much as possible, which hopefully will make our child’s life a bit easier – or at least not more complicated than it is already. After all, she will already spend fair amount of time answering simple questions such as ‘where are you from’!

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