中国人的姓名 Names of Chinese People
Names of Chinese People
The surnames of Chinese people appeared during the matriarchal society, when clans were constituted with mothers at the center. And clans distinguished themselves from each other by using the name.
The surname has roughly several origins as follows: 1. With the first name of the mother as the surname of the clan in matriarchal society. Thus, many ancient surnames have a basic structural part of 女 (meaning "female"), such as 姜, 姚, and 姬, and the Chinese character for surname 姓 is also composed of 女 and 生 (meaning "giving birth to"). 2. With the creatures worshipped in remote antiquity as the surname, such as 马 (horse), 牛 (cattle), 羊 (sheep), 龙 (dragon), etc. 3. With ancient states?names as the surname, such as 赵 (Zhao), 宋 (Song), 秦 (Qin), 吴 (Wu), etc. 4. With ancient official titles eventually adopted as the surname, such as 司马 (Sima) and 司徒 (Situ). 5. With the rank or title of nobility as the surname, such as 王 (prince) and 侯 (marquis). 6. With the location and scene in residential places as the surname. For example, 东郭, 西门 (western gate), 池 (pond), 柳 (willow), etc. 7. With the profession as the surname. For instance the person who makes pottery has the surname of 陶 (pottery). 8. With ancestors' official and courtesy names as the surname. For example, the Chinese nation's ancestor was named 轩辕 (Xuanyuan), which later became a surname.
Up to now, there is no exact statistic on how many surnames there are in China. In the Song Dynasty, an intellectual wrote the Book of China's Family Names, covering more than 500 surnames among which over 60 are compound ones. Having collected material and researched for many years, research personnel in the Research Institute of Genetics and Development Biology in the Academy of Sciences recently found that the surnames of the Chinese from ancient times to the present exceeded 22,000. Contemporary Chinese use about 3,500 Chinese surnames. Among the 100 commonly used surnames, the three commonest are Li, Wang and Zhang; Zhuge, Ouyang, Situ and Sima are the commonest compound surnames.
In China, the surname comes first followed by the given name, and the latter has its own traditions and features. It can have one or two characters. In the same clan, the given name is arranged in the order of seniority in the family hierarchy. And the given names of peers usually have one Chinese character in common if there are more than one characters in their given names. The names of ancient men were more complicated than those of modern people. People of literacy and status have both a style name and alternative name, along with the surname and given name. For example, a man of letters Su Shi in the Song Dynasty had the style name Zizhan and the alternative name Dongpo. The poet Li Bai in the Tang Dynasty lived in the Qinglian Village in Sichuan Province in his childhood, and thus he styled himself "Qinglian Jushi (retired scholar)".
Chinese names usually have a certain meaning, expressing some kind of wish. Some names embody the location, time or natural phenomenon when the person was born, such as "Jing (Beijing)","Chen (morning)","Dong (winter)" and "Xue (snow)". Some names indicate the expectation of possessing some virtues, such as "Zhong (loyalty)", "Yi (justice)", "Li (etiquette)", and "Xin (faith)". Some names have the meaning of health, longevity and happiness, such as "Jian (health)", "Shou (longevity)", "Song (pine, representing longevity)" and "Fu (happiness)" Male names are different from female ones: men's names usually have the character meaning power and vigor, such as "Hu (tiger)", "Long (dragon)", "Xiong (grandeur)", "Wei (magnificence)", "Gang (hardness)" and "Qiang (strength)". And the names of females usually use characters representing gentleness and beauty, such as "Feng (phoenix)", "Hua (flower)", "Yu (jade)", "Cai (colors)", "Juan (graceful)", and "Jing (calmness)".
Nowadays, the Chinese do not pay as much attention to naming, as did ancient folk. Generally a person has an infant namec and an official named, and the given names are not necessarily arranged in the order of the seniority in the family hierarchy.