Friday, 28 September 2007


What's in a name?

Well, according to most Chinese parents, it could very well determine or at least have a direct impact in a person's life. Hence carefully choosing and selecting a name for the unborn is not to be taken lightly!

I found a sense of irony here because our parents are supposed to be the more superstitious ones but how many of us had our names picked or recommended by a geomancer. I know mine certainly was not and neither was my sister's.

Hence isn’t it ironic that when it comes to our generation, the younger and supposedly more educated ones are obsessed with going around trying to pick the perfect name for their babies. An example will be my BIL. He went to four geomancers including one in Hong Kong (no, he didn’t fly there. He consulted this guy through fax) and finally decided on a name after about 40 days. Now that is of course taking things to the one extreme.

I visited a couple friend who had given birth last week and due theirs was to be a Cesarean birth, they got a geomancer to pick the date and time for the birth. Due the time was picked, their baby's life will not lack any of the five element, Metal; Wood; Water; Fire and Earth so they can choose and pick any name they like for their child.

Then there are people like me at the other end of the extreme. I have always felt that I turned out pretty alright without having some shifu picked out my name. Ok, I have to admit I am not loaded or anything but I do have a decent job that pays alright, a lovely wife and soon to have a child as well. So in my own book, I'm doing okay. Now that it is time to choose a name for Baby I tend to go with names that I like rather then going to geomancers for assistance.

For me, choosing the Chinese name is very much the same as picking out the English one. It has to sound nice, meaningful and hopefully not too lame or geeky.

The Mrs and I have narrowed down to 2 names. Needlessly to say since we do not know the gender, it has to be 1 for each gender. Its time like this that makes me wonder why not just reveal the gender so we do not have to work doubly hard.

Anyway the names we picked are 天赐 (Tian Ci) if Baby is a boy and the meaning is God's gift and 天恩 (Tian En) if Baby is a girl and its meaning is God's kindness. The meaning is loosely translated of course. I think a few of the Chinese readers here will probably be able to translate it better for me.

So I thought we are done at least with the Chinese names right? Wrong! It seems people are not too comfortable with us using the word 天 (Tian) which means Sky, Heaven or God. It seems the name may be a little too "strong" for Baby.

This has caused some concerns for us because I really like the names. Besides the fact that the name sounds nice, I truly like the meaning too since this pregnancy did not come easily at all. I am not a religious person at all and from this experience I have to agree that to have a baby is really God's gift. Even with today's advance science, IVF is not 100% successful. If I am not wrong its success rate is generally about 40%.

I was joking with the Mrs that if this is the case then we should name Baby after some small fry so if Baby is a boy he will be name 小二 and 小小 if Baby is a girl.

Now the Mrs is considering seeking the geomancer's advice after Baby is born and by giving him the exact date and time of Baby's birth.

This makes me wonder how our friends from the other ethnic groups choose the names. Are there are special rituals or superstitions? How come few Chinese name their children after their ancestors? Hey, we have seen it all in movies about how the babies are named after their grandfather or grandmother. Even Harry Potter named his children after his godfather and teacher.

That brings me back to Baby's English name. Those of you who have been following this blog will know that we have decided on Kate for a girl and up until recently Kai for a boy. I had reluctantly gave in to the Mrs's preferred choice of Kai but it dawned on me not too long ago that it will not work.

"Why?" you ask, and I don’t blame you for you do not know my family name. It's Tan (陈). So one fine day I was just pronouncing Kai Tan in my mind and instantly I knew it has to go. For Kai Tan means 开单 or "issue receipt" when read as Kai T-an and 开摊 or "open stall" when pronounced as Kai Dan. I'm sorry but you have to know Chinese to understand the joke but take my word, it is unacceptable unless we want Baby to have a horrible childhood.

This further led me to believe that Baby is a boy because like I mentioned in my earlier post, Crazy?, God has a wicked sense of humour. He knows we are not ready for a boy so Baby will simply be a boy.

Guess its back to the drawing board for us again! Arrgg!!!


Nicole said...

Names are really not something to be taken lightly! When I first knew I was pregnant with Claire back then, I've strongly decided to use the name ' Faith'. THEN, due to our surname, it simply cannot work. If so, it'll be ' faith lee'. In chinese, it sounds like 非礼(molest). So I have to let go of the name. However, it turned out rather well in the end, as faith is a rather demure name and claire is nothing but demure. Haha..

My hubby went to geomancer to choose the chinese name. We had wanted to use the word ' 宣' intially but then, seems that alot of parents loves to use this word so we given it up as well. My hubby loves the word 宇(universe) and though it's a little' man', we decided to use it. We try to make it more feminine by adding the word ' 欣'. So her name is 李欣宇( which can loosely means admire the universe).

NOW, I'm thinking what to name my second one(english name)...Hee..

Lionel n Rachel said...

Its really a chore deciding names for our little ones, isn't it? I'm nt the superstitious type as well but well, my MIL says that a name decides the life for each individual. If u choose a wrong name, then he/she will hv a difficult life.

So i left the chinese name decision to my MIL. Cos she say must be in combination with the 5 chinese elements, the time & date of birth & even the number of strokes in each word, etc etc etc... And lastly, must also see "jia pu" Haiz.....

Back to ur chinese name, 天赐 sounds nice for a boy but if u wanna name 天恩 for ur gal, dun use tis 天。 How abt 添 instead? An idea? Hehe..

And yes, i understand the joke on Kai Tan. Hw abt Kole Tan? Will there b another chinese joke on tis? Dun tink so ba.

fucheen said...

:) In cantonese, Kai Tan can also mean EGG. My husband's surname is also Tan and we're half cantonese so we've had fun permutating names such as Rambu-Tan, Tan Doo Ri, Kai Tan, Ham Tan, etc.

We still haven't chosen a name for our girl yet and I'm at 35 weeks. I find some geomancers unethical and strangely enough, provide the same names for 2 different birth details.

Anonymous said...

Hey been a long time since I posted… been a little busy myself too! (if u know what I mean…)

Ok back to names… better don’t “play play” with the names… it’s stuck with you for life… Kai Tan erm like what you say sounds a little “funny”
You wouldn’t want your kid to be the butt of jokes in school…. I think some of the celebrities kids have the weirdest name…

I remember I had a classmate by the name of Yi Wen (can’t remember her surname thou… Primary school) and some of the girls were really making fun of her… Yiwen = mosquito. I even remembered one Chinese teacher making fun of her name… poor thing.

Anyway always do the name tests (in all languages n dialect)… have a few people trying to pronounce the name especially the older folks. As I knew my mom will be the main caregiver for my daughter, so I had to make sure my mom pass the “test”… I had wanted Megan… but somehow my mom just could not pronounce it (it sounded REALLY FUNNY)… so in the end we chose Tricia which my mom could pronounce it properly… Remember main caregiver must be able to pronounce the baby’s name properly because the kid is at the place ¾ of the day and listening and learning to the wrong pronunciation will be bad!

As for the Chinese name, because my hubby side has got this family tradition thing that our children’s generation must have a “Fang” as the middle name so our choices were really limited. But I left the Chinese naming to my FIL…

Have fun… but remember do the test!

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Nicole,

Honestly I needed help with your Claire's chinese name. That goes to show my chinese standard! Ha Ha

So do you find it any more difficult this time round with the naming? Must it start with C as well and it must be 欣 something?

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Yvonne,

Thankfully I have the support of the Mrs. I think she knows I can be pretty stubborn so better to support me. ;p Plus she does like the names that we have both came up.

I think unless someone can come up with a better suggestion, we will most likely proceed with the 2 that we have chosen.

We are planning to have more than 1 child, so will likely stick to the same middle name so it will have to be for 天 baby girl also.

The Mrs kind of like Kole / Cole Tan as well. Guess we'll see. How come no one likes Rafe?! Hmmm....

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Fucheen,

Thanks a lot!! Kidding. Actually we were having dinner with my friends last Sat and I brought up the same Kai Tan issue and this is exactly what he said!!! EGG!!! Ha Ha Ha Guess the Mrs will really have to give it up now.

Is your husband's surname really Tan or are you making fun of me? I really like Ham Tan (century egg).

When my colleague asked me about Baby's name. Initially I told them that if Baby is a boy then I will name him Sun and dialect name Tan Lo Tion.

Interesting bit on geomancers. Have not experienced that cause I don't really believe in seeing them.

Good Luck with your own naming!

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Happyhour,

Hey, I'm not the one that needs convincing. Try telling that to the Mrs. As for the celebrities’ babies’ names. Many of them are not proper names at all.

I bet your ex-classmate is still being made fun of especially the recent news on dengue. I know I will not spare her if she is my colleague.

Hmmmm.... maybe because I am this mean that is why I know for a fact some mean kids out there will make fun of Baby too if he is named Kai Tan. The Mrs is not like me at all. She will not make fun of others' names. Well....maybe that one time only.

We know the importance of our parents being able to call out to Baby properly that is also why we want to try and stick to a single syllable name.

You have to admit Kai is really simple for the old folks.

Unknown said...

personally i will get my hb to bring my bb's DOB & time to the fengshui master for analysis b4 deciding on the name. for now, we r juz choosing how the name sounds.

i have a chinese name which ppl always made fun of when i was in pri school hence it's important tat our gal got a nice sounding name so tat life will b smooth sailing for her n tat no 1 wld make fun of her name. :)

my 2-cents worth. ;)

Nicole said...

I've already thought of a single syllable name for my second one(since I already know the gender). My hubby had wanted to follow the '宇' instead(which is the last word) and my mum thought it's very weird as most people followed the middle name(second word). Anyway, the name we chose cannot make it too due to some reason..Haha..shall tell you after my baby is born...

Anyway, will have to consult the geomancer again. The thing about geomancer is that some of them can be very 'casual' about it. THey'll give you a list of middle and last word names and ask you to mix and match them yourself to your liking. I thought it's supposed to be based on your birth characters?? Can just mix and match? Thought playing LEGO???? For the one my hubby chose, the guy from china(they communicated via email) gave us 5 names for the first time but my hubby didn't like it so he asked for another round AND another round. Took 15 names before he decided on Claire's name.

He took it very seriously, obviously..Haha..

Anonymous said...

hey! tianci happened to be my dad's name! hehehe...

as for my boy's names, we consulted a geomancer and he shortlisted a few combinations for us and seriously only 1 makes it, the rest i dun even want to look at it! if you decide to go to a geomancer, they will calculate using the 'ba zhi' and then they will list down the personality of the baby, what to avoid for the baby and if there's any 'mishap' in future and how to avoid it. so dun go to a geomancer if you are not ready for this.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi JJ,

I agree with you that is why I want to prevent Baby from going through the trauma hence Kai has to be out of the window.


A Husband's Voice said...

Yeah Nicole, I remembered you are the "evil" one. Knowing the gender but keeping it as a secret. Ha Ha

Personally I find it a little weird too to have the last name the same for both kids. We normally address them by their last name so both will respond?!?

I know how these geomancers work. Like you said, they will give you a list of middle names and a list of last names and the parents will have to mix and match to see which sounds nicer or has more meaning.

It's just that maybe I am trying to make a statement that one does not have to go to these geomancers in order to "ensure" the child will have his / her life set for the better.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Missy,

Please tell me that your dad turned out great even though he has 天 in his name. That it is not too "strong".

It is very hard to "learn" something especially negative and then try and ignore it. This is the reason why I did not consult any geomancer for the renovation of our house. We turned out ok.

For the same reason I rather not engage these geomancers for Baby's name. It’s not that I believe it in the first place but people around me will relate everything to it should Baby have any obstacle in his / her life later on.

Nicole said...

Ya, I'm the 'evil' one. Haha..Somehow, you'll realise that some people are curious not for sharing joy but simply to be busybodies. Haha..

Ya, I also didn't engage geomancer back then for my home for the same reason as you.

But names, I don't 'dare' not to. Haha..I guess cause it's due to my own child. If it's me, I won't be that concerned...

Anonymous said...

Naming your child is indeed the toughest job. I have not thought of mine yet either. Anyway, my hb is not keen to give his son an english name so we can save the trouble of cracking our brains. He prefers to let his son decide himself when he grows up. As for the chinese name, my MIL is quite good with chinese so she is given the honour. :D For now, I can only call my son ah boi or boi boi. Hahaha

Just like claire's dad, I also quite like the word 宇. But my hb and MIL do not. :( Too bad!

Anyway, 天赐 and 天恩 sound fine. I think as long as you think its meaningful, who cares? Many people have told me that your chinese name should have 9 or 13 strokes, then your life will be good. I think this is all crap. :P I believe that your life is in your own hands. :D

Anonymous said...

My dad's doing great! personally, i dun think Tian is too strong a word, TianCi symbolises a blessing from god. go ahead and name yr child this if both you & Mrs are comfortable, dun have to bother with what others are telling you guys, ultimately it your child, not theirs.

My boy has a En in his name too, its Jing'en coz my hubby wants him to grow up to be a gracious man.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Nicole,

true, there are people who are just plain curious. I bet the Mrs is facing them on a daily basis.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Reishi,

Like you I totally believe that your life is in your own hands. That is why I do not plan on seeing the geomancer.

For the benefit of those that believe the strokes theory, is it 9 or 13 strokes for each character? Or are they meant for only the last 2 characters?

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Missy,

Thanks for your feedback and support. Chances are we will stick with these names unless our parents object violently.

Don't want to upset the old folks too much also.

Anonymous said...


I have been following your blog and it has been an enjoyable read. coincidentally, I have just written a blog about names for my child.

Unfortunately for me, my husband's family name is 吴Wu (Goh), which sounds like 无 Wu (meaning nothing, super negative sounding)

You can click on my name and check out my entry about the name. Btw, I just entered my 10th week (1st pregnancy) and just want to get the naming part done and over with...

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Newmama,

Actually I have been following your blog since you first visited mine.

I am able to track who has been visiting so I knew about your blog and it has been in my Favourites folder since.

吴 is indeed rather interesting. Don't be too vexed by it since you still have some months to go. Should I come across a nice name I will definitely let you know.

How about naming your Baby after our SM? Ha Ha

Anonymous said...

I heard its 9 or 13 strokes for each character not including your surname.
Dunno accurate a not? Cos I didnt pay much attention when my cousin was sharing this info with me. Hee Hee :P

Anyway for all parents to be's info, John Little is having sale now.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Reishi,

Okay, so we can forget about strokes since 天 is only 4 strokes. Ha Ha Ha

So John Little is really having sale huh?! Time to contact the JL sales staff who told us he will reserve our Capella pram and car seat.

Woo Hoo!! Finally get to buy something for Baby!!

Trina said...

think abt it more positively.. God gave u a boy cos u're not ready for one, so that you may draw strength from Him in your parenting path? :)

i shortlisted on both chinese n christian names for my son, cos my hb felt that this was too much an "artistic" thing for him. So he just gave his opinions on the shortlisted names based on their meaning n we decided.

His christian name is "Zephan", meaning "God's treasure" or "treasure from God". Chinese name is 劭轩. 1st word denotes "encouraging", while 2nd word means "shelter". Our hope for him is to be a source of encouragement and shelter of refuge for others.

Anonymous said...

wow... didn't know you have been reading my weird blog too... is that a new feature in blogspot? cos I used to have 2 blogs in blogspot, but didn't know about all these features...

It's a refreshing change to read from a father's POV. Too many mummies blogging, i think.

yar, still have a few months to go... praying that I really dun have to name my child 无聊.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Trina,

Er.... not religious here but I understand what you mean.

I now understand what your husband mean by too "artistic" because I can't pronounce both the names you have picked for your boy. lol

I guess we can guess who is going to give Baby Chinese tuition huh! Ha Ha

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Newmama,

Sure I follow your blog. I make it a point to read my readers' blogs. I have about 20+ blogs listed in my favourites. So all of you are welcome to "advertise" your blog here.

I'm sure you can find something nice and meaningful in due time. Do keep us posted!

Keep reading ya?

Anonymous said...

Maybe you can still use the word 天 but in another character.
Same pronunciation of 天.
Its a very nice name anyway.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Westerway,

We will be sticking to the 2 names since we really like them and they are meaningful names for us too.