My Chinese Name / 我的中文名

If finding a Chinese name was a easy as leafing through a book, aptly titled 100,000+ Baby Names (yes, this book really exists and I pity any parents who bought it or got it as a present, it must be a tome!), I would know at least half of the book by heart by now. I may be exaggerating a little here but you'll soon find out that I'm most definitely not joking.

It's taken an entire year for me to settle on a name so you could almost say I'm picky. Sometimes it is alright to be picky though. This is a name we're talking about, after all. I've got to live with it and it would be kind of laughable if, some six months down the line, I suddenly turn around and tell you all that I changed my name because I don't like my original choice anymore. You'd laugh and I wouldn't like that and then you'd have to give me chocolate to make it up to me. This wouldn't be good for my waist and would lead to me having to go to a gym which would make me unhappy again and you'd have to find another way to make me happy again. Devil's circle, we'd be at this for a good while.

To avoid all that, I've decided to properly think about my name first and now that I've decided that I'm happy with it, I'm going to share it with all of you. Ain't I nice? You don't even have to give me chocolate for doing this by the way but if you want to I won't say no. Wouldn't want to upset you.

You're probably wondering why I haven't told you my Chinese name yet, right? Maybe you're even thinking that I'm making you read all this only to tell you at the end that it's all a joke and that I don't actually have a Chinese name. Don't worry, I won't be that mean but I may do something along those lines for April's Fools Day...

Before I reveal my Chinese name to you, I'll give you some random facts. It's all about the suspense, people.

1) I have chosen traditional characters for my name, although it's actually only my Chinese surname, or 姓 (xìng), that has a both a traditional and a simplified way of spelling it. My given name, or 名字 (míngzì), only has one way of spelling it unless you use the Roman Alphabet to write my name, then you'd have two ways. Smart, uh? ;-)

2) If you handwrite my name, it will take you a total of 37 strokes to do so. Yes, I kid you not. My last name has the most strokes. I would recommend that you start practising now so that you don't take forever when you write my birthday card. If you ask nicely I will even tell you the stroke order and by 'tell' I mean I will ask my teacher to show me and then I will show. Or you could just ask somebody who's much more apt at writing Chinese characters. I know a ton of people who are, just make sure that you bribe them accordingly.

3) Massive thanks must go to my Chinese teacher for her input. She chose two thirds of the characters used and assured me that it was a proper name with a proper meaning e.g. my name does not translate into "rotten tomato" in Chinese or something crazy like this, not that anyone in their right mind would want to call themselves "rotten tomato", no matter the language. If you're interested, in Chinese that would be "腐臭的西红柿" (fǔchòude xīhóngshì). Whereas I have encountered a few people in my life who deserve that title I assure you it's too much of a mouthful to make a decent name.

4) My Chinese surname wasn't chosen for its meaning or because of its character. We chose it because phonetically it has the closest resemblance to my actual surname, as far as Chinese surnames go anyway. There was the option to choose 何 (Hé) as a last name which also has a phonetic resemblance to my actual surname but that particular surname didn't sit well with me. Also, my teacher strictly forbid me to call myself 王 (Wáng) to honour 王力宏 (not that I was seriously considering it and if you think I did then I have a bone to pick with you). I would however like to point out that it was my teacher who suggested 羅 (罗 / Luō) because according to her I am obsessed with Show Luo (羅志祥 / Luó Zhìxiáng). I have no idea at all where she got that notion from, I hardly ever talk about him or that other fella who shall not be named.

5) I'm not getting rid of my beloved Chinese nickname. I will still be 小南瓜 (Xiǎo Nánguā / Little Pumpkin) and all my friends are welcome use that nickname or 绰号 (chuòhào). It's a funny nickname and it sums me up perfectly but unfortunately there are those pesky situations in life when you need a somewhat more serious sounding name. For those very situations I now have a proper Chinese name. I don't suspect my friends will be using my Chinese name a lot. In Chinese culture you don't often call your friends by their given name, you would use a nickname or a family title. For example, a lot of my friends call me 姊姊 (zǐzǐ / older sister).

Since I'm running out of good ways to procrastinate (or random facts to bore you with), I'm now going to take the plunge and reveal my Chinese name to you. Are you ready? Please sit for this, okay? Like just get comfy, if you have a couch, even better. Maybe get a coffee or tea and don't forget to get me some also.

So without further ado, here we go, this is my Chinese name:

Pretty, uh? Want to know how to pronounce it? Here is the Pinyin for you, with the tone indicators so that you can pronounce it correctly:

Hán Xiāngpíng

If you actually write it down, you don't have to use the tone indicators though, Han Xiangping will do or use the Chinese characters - whatever floats your boat as they say.

In case you're wondering, Han would be my surname while Xiangping is my first name, made up of two characters. It's a typical Chinese name in the sense that most Chinese names are made up of three characters. One for the surname and two for the first name, or given name.

Let me tell you a little more about each individual character. We'll start with my surname, 韓 (Hán):

Han was one of the Seven Hero States of the Warring States (simpl. 战国七雄 / trad. 戰國七雄 / Zhàn Guó Qī Xióng) on which you can read up here if you're interested in Chinese History. The hero bit suits me just fine as Chinese children usually inherit the father's family name and my dad is my hero - this works! Han is also used to refer to South Korea - 大韩民国 (Republic of Korea (South Korea) / Dà Hán Mín Guó).

My surname is the character with the most strokes, a whopping 17 of them. You can save yourself five strokes if you use the simplified version, 韩, but that just won't do. Sorry, I demand all 17 strokes from you, like it or not. Coincidentally my nickname 小南瓜 has a total of 17 strokes - I appear to have a thing for 17 strokes - I wonder if there is something special about 17 strokes?

Moving on to 香 (Xiāng), this character has the following meaning: fragrant, sweet-smelling, aromatic, scented. It is also a Chinese unisex name for both boys and girls. Furthermore 香 is one half of the Chinese name for Hong Kong (香港 / Xiānggǎng). Whether that fact has anything to with the choice of character, well, I shall keep that to myself.

Lastly, we have 萍. For a Chinese explanation of what 萍 is, what it means or how it can be used, please click here.

Plain and simple, this is a plant, one of the smallest plants there is (最小的有花植物) and it floats on water. It can be found all other the world and prefers quiet, slow-flowing rivers, lakes and ponds. 萍 is therefore actually a perfect choice for me because I love swimming and I've always been a water rat. It's English translation is "duckweed" and if you're grinning now, you better watch it. I've got cream tart I will throw your way if you do not behave, so don't even think about using the English translation of this character as a nickname for me.

So what do you think? Do you like my Chinese name? What about the meaning? Do you think my teacher and I chose well? Let me know!