Female Foreign: Silly names

I have many Chinese female friends and I love China. There, I said it! So I’m not saying what follows for anything else than a mere observation. Not a criticism. I hope you understand.

But, one brilliant thing that Chinese girls do is name themselves.

In western countries we view names totally differently – as something that literally defines you, something innate to you, inseparable from your entire being. In England, the US, Australia and so on, your ‘English name’ is not your ‘English name’, it is you. We don’t pick other names… we don’t all have a ‘Japanese name’ or a ‘Spanish name’.

Yet, young Chinese people are now often using their ‘English name’ as their real name – in many circumstances; name-cards, other work purposes, as well as basic introduction and with their friends (both Chinese and non).

The humourous thing about this is their choice. All of us living in China have a remembered catalogue of ridiculous self-chosen names which we have heard: Sunshine, Princess, Baby, Magicbean (real!) and so on.

Some Chinese girls simply add “baby” to their Chinese name (Phoebe Baby, Jessy Baby) – to which they see absolutely no irony. This is probably to be expected of an entire continent that doesn’t really get irony (or self-awareness). So, they see absolutely no problem in advertising the fact that they are morons.

But the point is that you will not meet many Chinese girls who have just named themselves ‘Sarah’, or ‘Emma’, or such. They will go straight for the top-shelf of glamour-names – with absolute presumption that they can pull off the name.

No matter their lack of intense beauty or mystique, you will often meet girls named ‘Zinnia’, or ‘Sophia’, or ‘Alexia’.

In the same way they use a simple device like a mobile telephone to desperately stamp their intentions as ‘with it’, hip and modern, they all follow the trend of thinking up whatever name which will label them as the person they believe they are.

To not have the latest iPhone is nothing less than a complete embarassment for these girls. But that’s another story.

This is not a criticism, merely an observation. I should get a tattoo saying that.

What’s the betting that one of these lovely sweethearts is called ‘Sophia’? Or ‘Rachel Baby’? Or from outside Shanghai but desperately trying to find a foreign guy who hasn’t been in China long enough to recognise the ‘wai di’ signs. But that’s another story.

To enjoy more posts from the female perspective, just click ‘Female Foreign’ in the Tag Cloud to the right


Tags: , ,

Categories: Play


Foreigner in Shanghai


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

16 Comments on “Female Foreign: Silly names”

  1. September 30, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    Great write-up! I found it so strange at first when all the Chinese coworkers in the office would call each Crystal and what not. They didn’t even know each other’s Chinese names. Whoa.

    • October 1, 2012 at 11:16 am #

      Haha, Crystal! That’s such a great example of what FF is talking about here!

    • roomaomao
      October 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

      Maybe the name was chosen to make up for certain things. She wasn’t too pleasing to the eye. 🙂

    • roomaomao
      October 10, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

      Glad it wasn’t Crystal Baby. Makes me wanna puke.

  2. October 16, 2012 at 12:14 am #

    Thanks for liking my post about eating horse, Developing City!

    Sadly, I’ve thought about the Chinese name game for a while now; I taught English in Shenzhen a few years ago, and one student called himself Ibrahimmovie (one “word”). Another went from Gerard in the first term to Wallace in the second. Great.

    But, practically speaking, if the Chinese adopt western names (I’ve met wayyy too many named Kiko, again proving their affinity for ALL things Japanese), and more and more westerners are going over there/are communicating with the Chinese through Alibaba/the ‘net, we finally know what gender they are! So long as they chose the most…appropriate given name. It might be easier for them to type in our names to see if we are a Mr. or Ms., but the same issue can be said about other countries in East Asia too. A hint, though? Half of all Korean girls call themselves Eunice (must be a biblical name)…

  3. October 17, 2012 at 6:45 am #

    I met a girl called Yummy in Hong Kong. Another called Strawberry – her family name was Lam (say it out loud) and twin sisters called Kinetic and Energy. But in HK they have fun with it.

    In Mainland China I have met a billion Candy’s, Jessica’s etc etc. Some Chinese girls have asked me to give them an English name and when I come back with ‘Emma’ they snear at me. Then I find out later they have named themselves ‘Bass Guitar’ or ‘Divinity’ or something like that.

    • October 17, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

      Classic! But sadly they’ll never know humility (or irony, self-awareness…)

  4. October 18, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Really informative, all the while I thought there was a very thoughtful and mystique process going on when they chose their English names.

  5. October 19, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    Haha that’s a funny post. I’m from Taiwan, and it’s the same there. I’ve met quite a few girls named “Chanel”, “Gucci”, and “Prada” in Taiwan. I also met a guy named “Omega” there.

    • October 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

      That’s great. I incorrectly presumed that all humans would understand irony (in this case: appearing classless by trying very hard to appear classy), but these kinds of people clearly do not!

  6. January 21, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    Lots of Filipino girls over here have odd English names, although I think most of them were picked for them by parents (at random, out of an old phone directory I reckon). Have recently met girls called Sniper and Keith.

  7. May 10, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    I see your “english” name, and I raise you stupid foreigners with Chinese tattoo’s.


  1. Cultural Musings: Does the young generation know it is ageing? | Developing City - December 20, 2012

    […] again – not a criticism […]

  2. Female Foreign: Desperately cute | Developing City - January 8, 2013

    […] Now, that she has chosen ‘Felicia’ is just amazing. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: