Zhōngguó rén de xìngmíng
Chinese Surnames and Given Names
中国人的姓名(zhōngguó rén de xìngmíng) Chinese Surnames and Given Names
In Chinese, the surname comes first and then the given name. The full name of a Han Chinese is composed of two parts: the surnames and the given name.
A Chinese surname 姓(xìng) refers to one of the over seven hundred family names used by Han Chinese and Sinicized Chinese ethnic groups. The term the hundred family names 百姓(băixìng) is colloquially used in Chinese to mean people/commoners. Chinese surnames are mainly passed from the father.
Generally speaking, Chinese given names have one or two characters, and are written after the family name. When a baby is born, parents often give him or her a pet name乳名(rŭmíng) or little name 小名(xiăomíng), such as Little Gem 小宝(xiăobăo) or two characters that repeat Ming Ming 明明(míngming). The given name is then usually chosen later and is often chosen with consultation of the grandparents.
As mentioned earlier, in Chinese, the surname comes first and then the given name. Therefore "John Smith" as a Chinese name would be "Smith John." For instance, the NBA star Yao Ming should be addressed as "Mr. Yao," not "Mr. Ming." And people like to add 小(xiăo) before family name, such as小王(Xiăo Wáng) , 小郑(Xiăo Zhèng), 小李(Xiăo Lĭ) and so on. In calling their superiors or elders, the Chinese are accustomed to the nonreciprocal or asymmetrical addressing. They use "title +surname" to address their superior or elders rather than call them surnames (e.g. Professor Wang), while the superior or elders call the addressers their names directly. The Chinese tend to abide by the principle of depreciating oneself and respecting others to show appropriate respects towards the persons being addressed. Otherwise, the addresser may be considered as ill mannered, ill educated or rude.