Baby name consultation: Chinese (+Catholic?) names

Today’s consultation is a little different — I don’t have permission to post the family’s details, but I wanted to hear your ideas regarding one part of their “dilemma.” One of the parents is Chinese, and while the baby’s name will be an English one, the parent’s Chinese heritage is an important consideration. But the parent who emailed me is the non-Chinese parent and didn’t have a good sense of what names the spouse would like or not like. So I did a little research into Chinese naming customs, and found this article, which included this bit of info that I thought was helpful:

While we might find it strange for so many Chinese to share the same surname, they find it equally odd for so many in the West to share the same forename.

Whereas most of us know a few Janes, Johns, Jameses, Saras, and Andrews, this repetition does not really happen in China. In fact the focus is on creating a unique name for your child, which won’t be shared with others or copied from elsewhere …

The names are also designed to mean something. It could be anything from Xiao-Long (小龍), meaning ‘little dragon’, to Li-Kong (立功), which means something close to ‘worthy of merit’

I took all this to mean that (1) junioring isn’t really done, and (2) the name “definitions” that I usually caution against giving too much weight to are actually really important in Chinese naming. Do you agree? Is there more to know about English names given to babies of Chinese parents?

I also looked up Chinese saints, and found this great listing of the Martyr Saints of China, but then I also found this article about when JP2 canonized the first Chinese saints and wow — I knew that the state-run Chinese Catholic Church is at odds with the [underground] Chinese Catholic Church loyal to Rome, but I didn’t know much beyond that — what a sad article!

Based on that, just from a naming perspective, I didn’t feel as confident about my ability to suggest names that someone emailing a Catholic baby name consultant for name help, who has a Chinese naming tradition to consider, might like.

I know this isn’t a lot to go on, but if any particular names come to mind for either boys or girls, I’d love to hear them! And if you have any more information on Chinese naming, especially with a Catholic sensibility, please share!

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