Need help with female Mandarin names

So, as some of you probably have noticed, I studied Chinese for a while, and as part of that, I was given a Chinese name by my teachers. Even though I don’t really study it any more, I am fond of the name, and have a soapstone stamp that I use as a seal when I send personal letters and greeting cards to folks.

So, my wife and I have decided it would make a bit of a fun family tradition to keep giving Chinese names to new members and having stamps made for them. Thus far, our family is still pretty much the two of us, so this pretty much means I’m trying to come up with a name for her.

Even though we’re both about as Chinese as Mel Brooks, we do want to try and avoid coming up with the Chinese equivalent of “Ford Prefect” or something similarly goofy sounding, on the off chance that we meet somebody who might actually care. :smiley:

She was thinking of “Ai Lin” as it sounds vaguely like her own surname (and as a bonus, her first name starts with the same syllable that is used for my surname in Chinese). The characters she had in mind for it would be the ones for “Love” and “Fine Jade”, though if that fails, I figure the character for “Forest” should work for a first name.

We’re also toying with calling her “Huohua” (fire flower) as a direct reference to her personality, though I don’t know if it works at all as a name in Chinese.

We’re not planning to use this for any kind of official correspondence, it’s pretty much just for informal usage with friends and family.

I know some Mandarin and I’m a native Cantonese speaker…

I think Ai Lin/愛琳 should be a decent female name. Actually, I was not familiar with the character 琳 without looking it up first, but that’s not unusual with names. You might want to wait for confirmation from others with more Mandarin knowledge, though.

Absolutely do not go with ‘Huohua’. That doesn’t work well at all as a name and sounds quite silly.

Yeah, I agree, and I think she’s leaning towards Ai Lin anyways, but I suspect a lot of the charm for “Huo Hua” with her comes from her being a video gamer (you know, the fire flower from Mario?)

there was a mentally challenged guy in the backwoods of china who was always walking around naked “just because it’s hot” and the villagers nicknamed him “huo wa” - fire doll. that’s the first thing i thought of when you said you were going to name your kid huo-hua.

another direction that a lot of 2nd and 3rd generation chinese speakers are going is modeling the chinese name to fit the english name.

Hah, I said wife, not kid. We’re still in the hypothetical English name stage for that.

hmmm, previous post eaten. I’m not a native mandarin speaker but I asked my wife who is. It’s an obviously female name. It’s also more of a Chinese diaspora name. Not that it’s bad, but it’s literally Jade Love, which is a bit obvious. In my experience, most of the female names with “ai” or love in it tended to be overseas Chinese rather than those in China or Taiwan. Kinda along the lines of “girl names, oh oh oh I know, let’s use the character for love, everyone will know that one.”

Do you have a chinese surname as well? Just make sure it sounds ok with “ailin.”

Sounds decent enough to me. Granted, I’m from El Paso. Are there female names that sound like “Oh”? I can’t recall.

Not much of substance to add. I do know an “Ai Lin”, and yes, she would be described as “diaspora” I guess…

My own two kids and Jia Ying and Jia En.

There would be some things to look out for…

  1. Pay attention to the characters used - the number of strokes can be considered “luck” or not, which will go in conjunction with the date and time of birth.
  2. Surnames can be renedered phonetically into Chinese (my own has been for my kids) - you should ask someone knowledgable about this.

Flowers are a good refuge for girls’ names in China.

I already have Chinese names picked out for my future daughters on this basis:

Mu Jin - 木槿 It means Hibiscus.
Zi Teng - 紫藤 It means Chinese Wisteria.

I like these names, regardless of how Ford Prefect-y they might be. They are not common names in China at all, but Chinese people I asked (and I asked many) said that they liked them, after thinking about it. Though they could have just been being polite. Combined with my in-retrospect unwisely chosen Chinese last name, Liang 亮 which means bright, they become even better, I hope.

nani - nice names. Educated Chinese *probably *wouldn’t choose them because they are too obvious. And there is no generational name, although the generational name is fading in post revolutionary China. Taiwan and Hong Kong are more traditional in my experience. The Chinese countryside still keeps very traditional convention.

You probably know this but for the other readers: Chinese naming convention is Last Name, generational first name ((字辈), then the actually selected middle name. In other words, your kids and all the kids in your extended family would have the same first name. This applied traditionally to the male children. Certainly, if you had more than one girl, then they would share the same first name (it just might not be the traditional generational name). Regardless, the shared first name would make it fairly obvious that they are sisters.

Or to think of a high profile exception is the Soong Sisters. Soong Ching-ling (宋庆龄), Soong Ai-ling (宋蔼龄) and Soong May-ling (宋美龄). They all share the same *middle *name instead of first name. While not as common as a generational first name, Ling is still a generational name.

In your case, a traditional Chinese name would then use Liang 亮, a shared generational first name, and then perhaps a more obscure yet classier character for Hibiscus and Wisteria.

Bengangmo above uses Jia Ying and Jia En, where the “Jia” would be the same character. My three girls all have 玉 aka yu aka Jade as their first name. We didn’t pick Jade, but rather accepted to use the generational name. (If we didn’t like the generational name, we probably would not have used it :wink: ). I went a step further, and my kids all have a traditional American first name, and their middle name is the entire Chinese name in pinyin, with my American last name. It was actually really useful when we lived in China and did international travel as some names like air tickets were in the Chinese name but then matched the middle name on the passport.

In Shanghai, where my wife is from, most people only have the family name and a first name (eg, no generational name). Basketball star YAO Ming is a good example (and I used to walk by his old elementary school everyday on the way to work).

My Chinese name is one that is considered 100% authentic. Actually, I had two. The first was quite a clever and somewhat rare Chinese family name that played off the first syllables of my English family name and first name. Then when I married my wife, I actually switched to her family name, the generational name and kept my middle name. Doesn’t really matter as most people call me by an unflattering nickname in Chinese. :slight_smile: