The birth of a child always gives rise to long discussions between parents in the choice of his (or her) name (s). A Franco-Chinese baby, it is even more the case, because it must choose both a French name and a Chinese name!
Of course, if one does not speak little or no Chinese and the other no more French, the question is simple: each chooses a name in its own language and avoids any debate. But in our case, Lina and I are very steeped in the language and culture of the other, it is not so simple …
There are basically three different approaches, depending on the desired correlation between the names of the two languages:
– Choose two names unrelated or phonetic or semantic, but being preferred their parents without any constraint language
– Seek a rapprochement between the two phonetic names, which is usually what is done for foreigners arriving in China at the time to give them a Chinese name. We can even try to look for names with Chinese and French pronunciation virtually identical.
– Find a semantic reconciliation between the two names – you can even give exactly the same meaning, but it is difficult because the French names are often not very precise meaning, but several possible etymologies
Let us therefore is: how did we choose the name of our son (Hugo in French 宇 国 / Yuguo in Chinese)?
The baby was brought to live between two countries, two languages, two cultures, we thought it would be better to give two names to the pronunciation very close. As already mix the two languages, at least he will not have to mix in his name, and his family both ends of Eurasia the call in the same way.
For the meaning of the name, since the choice of each name is a way to give him some benefit, some kind of protection, both on the safe side and enjoy each language to develop skills and stuff!
For the first child, we wanted to aim for a near-perfect correspondence between the French and Chinese pronunciations. Furthermore, considering that it would be in any way different from other children by his bicultural origins, we wanted him to have good typical names in each language, so naturally closer to its future classmates.
The last point before you start looking for how to choose a name that is different in France and China. In France, one selects a name from a list, a list that may contain thousands of names, but in fact only a couple of hundred are frequently used at a given time. In contrast, in China, we create a name by choosing one or two characters from thousands available, and the assembly of two characters (more common than not to choose one) thus provides millions of opportunities.