Thank you, BBC, for directing us to perhaps the most useful thing we've seen this week: a tutorial for Chinese people on a quest to pick an English-sounding name. According to CCTV's appropriately labeled "Tips for Chinese choosing an English name," native English folks are "stuck with whatever happy or unhappy names they've been given," but Chinese citizens have the freedom to select practically any English alternative that they can wield when the situation warrants. Some suggestions from the CCTV guide if you must make such a choice:
- You're generally good to go with respectable names that come "with implications of wealth," such as Elizabeth, William, or Catherine. But don't veer into old-timer respectable territory: Names that may have come from your grandparents' generation, including Gertrude or Percival, are a bad bet, unless "you enjoy being ironic."
- Food names (Candy, Sugar, Cherry) are "non-smart girl" choices and also run the risk of sounding like "stripper names." Likewise, avoid names that have a blatant sexual connotation, such as Creamy, Dong, or anything suggestive that's going to supplement Wang.
- If you're looking to "rebel from conformity," sure, go ahead and personify objects by choosing a name like Dragon, Fish, or Lawyer. However, "don't be surprised if you get many confused or amused looks from foreigners" and "avoid [those names] if you want a call back from that serious law firm in America."
- Stay away from famous names—you've got a lot to live up to if you adopt Madonna, Einstein, or Obama (though we're not sure how "Drew" made the do-not-use list). Mythological or religious characters (think Satan, Jesus, Hercules, Dumbledore) are similarly questionable choices, though "Harry from Harry Potter is OK."
- The guide has generally practical advice, though its suggestion on how to cull your own moniker gave us pause: "A good way to work out the 'feeling' of a name is to watch a bunch of American movies and sitcoms. They're full of name stereotypes … the good girls are all 'Janes,' the jock boys are still 'Buds,' and the geeks are called 'Sheldon.'"
(There's nothing on this list about 63-word names
being inadvisable, so go for it.)