Tabouli the animate salad (tabouli) wrote in linguaphiles,
Tabouli the animate salad

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Choosing a Chinese name for a baby

I'm currently nearly 17 weeks pregnant (due early December, so to be born in the Year of the Wooden Rabbit), and if it turns out to be a girl, I plan to give her a Chinese middle name. My own mother gave me a Chinese middle name, but as she's an English-educated Penang Hokkien speaker who can't read characters, the name she gave me doesn't quite work on a couple of levels (as I was told in China by a number of native Mandarin speakers!).

After learning this and having studied Chinese and Chinese naming customs myself, I want to make sure I do a better job! As my possible daughter will be only a quarter Chinese and raised in Australia where she'll probably only ever use the romanised version, I don't feel the need to go the whole way with auspicious numbers of strokes and balancing the elements and so forth. That said, I do want to come up with something that makes sense and looks like an authentic, well-chosen name to a native speaker. Which, despite having the internet and copies of both What's in a Chinese name and Best Chinese names: Your guide to auspicious names available as I type, is very hard for me to judge.

A few questions for you linguaphile types:

1. Are there still linguaphiles here who can give me the Hokkien (闽南语) readings of Chinese characters? If I prefer the Hokkien reading of the characters I choose, I might consider using it, but I need to know what it is!

2. I like the idea of a name starting with a Y, and have been looking at characters with readings like "Yun", "Yin" and "Ying". My husband likes the idea of 银 (yin2), as his mother is a silversmith, but I'm not keen on any of the combinations suggested in What's in a Chinese Name? Any thoughts on a character to follow it from people here? I'd rather not have a second character that's also in second tone, one that's too similar in sound to "yin" (ying, yan, etc.), or anything that's *too* girly-flowery in meaning (i.e. I'd rather not call her "Silver Rose" or similar).

3. If I were happy to forgo the initial Y, I did find the combination 送银 (Songyin) in the above book, which amused me greatly, as my mother-in-law is *panting* for a granddaughter she can shower in silver jewellery, and to call her "deliver silver" would be hilariously appropriate. HOWEVER, I do wonder whether this is really an appropriate name... can anyone tell me whether it looks a bit ridiculous/greedy/larcenous to a native speaker??

4. I quite like "Yunling", too (sounds good, not too hard to pronounce for English speakers), but don't have native speaker instincts for which characters would work for this combination of sounds. 云 (yun2 = "cloud")? 韵 (yun4 = "rhyme, musical articulation")? I quite like that second one, though its meaning seems to escape exact translation, but there are lots of characters which are romanised as "ling", and I've no idea which ones it would work with.

Thoughts? Ideas?

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