Basic knowledge of Chinese names
- In China, people state their last names (family names) first, and first names (given names) last. I call myself Li Boxiao in China (Li is my family name), but in western countries, I call myself Boxiao Li, following the western tradition.
- In news articles, famous Chinese figures are often referred in Chinese tradition, e.g., Xi Jinping (Xi is family name) and Yao Ming (Yao is family name).
- Chinese family names usually have one syllable, and given names usually no more than two. Each Chinese character is one syllable.
- Some rare family names have two syllables, such as Ouyang, Sima, and Zhuge.
- It is common for two unrelated Chinese to share the same family name, but sharing the same given name is much less common.
Syllables in Chinese
- Mandarin Chinese only has 408 syllables (consider how many syllables there are in English). In this sense, Chinese is easier than English.
- To say a two-syllable name, you need to break down the syllables. Most Chinese words also have two syllables (two characters). Breaking down syllables is easier than you think. General rules can be found here.
- These examples help you get the feeling: Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Baidu, Huawei, Ali, Baba, Xiaomi, Ouyang, Sima, Zhuge, Huangfu, Erkang, Zixuan, Jianan, Jian'an, Ruting.