ZHENGZHOU, Nov. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- The keen interest that foreigners sometimes take in Chinese names and their meanings could become even stronger if present trends continue. As society diversifies and individual freedom increases, Chinese parents are racking their brains to give what is often their only child a unique name, sometimes a strange one.
In Dengfeng city, some 700 kilometers south of
Beijing, home to the Shaolin Temple famous for Kungfu, a father decided to name
his newborn son "Hu D" -- Hu is the surname and the English letter D was the
newborn's given name.
The father, Hu Yu (not his real name), said he named
his son Hu D, hoping his son would have a desire to create and innovate as he
grew up. The name "Hu D" was chosen before the child was born, and would have
been used regardless of gender, said the father.
It was difficult, however, for the father to get this
strange name recognized. The hospital where the baby was born refused to issue a
medical certificate for the baby. The local police station said it would not
register the name.
The father was at a loss to understand. "I gave my
son this name in the hope that he would be able to create and innovate when he
grew up. Moreover, this name is out of the ordinary and easy to remember and
write down," said Hu, citing the name "Ah Q" to explain the rationale behind Hu
Ah Q was the character portrayed by Lu Xun
(1881-1963), one of the most influential writers in China in the 20th century,
in his famous short story, "The True Story of Ah Q".
The hospital insisted the name was not suitable for a
birth certificate. Dr. Li, in charge of the hospital, said his hospital had
consulted local public security authorities responsible for newborn
registrations. "We think it is better to name newborns with simplied Chinese
characters instead of rare and strange characters," said Li.
A woman at the Public Security Department of central
China's Henan Province, where Dengfeng is located, told Xinhua that China's
Public Security Ministry forbade Chinese from using English names when
registering their residence and other information. "If it is an English name, it
should be replaced with the proper Chinese equivalent," she said.
A staff member with the Zhengzhou Public Security
Department, in the provincial capital, said the computer system used for name
registration would not recognize an English name.
After running into so many snags, "Hu D"'s father had
no choice but to change his son's name into one with two Chinese characters --
Hu Di. However, he said he would not give up on the original name of Hu D. "When
I find out laws and regulations to support the original name, I will apply to
have it revised," he said.
While the name caused trouble for the father, it also
triggered debate in society.
A Zhengzhou-based middle school teacher, speaking
anonymously, said the name looked more like a flubdub than a creation.
"There are over 40,000 Chinese characters, with
attractive shapes and pronunciation. Why give a name that consists of an English
letter? If I had to call out his name someday, I would be wondering whether I
was reading Chinese pinyin or spelling out English phrases," he said.
Other people took sides with the father. Chen
Guangtao, a Zhengzhou-based lawyer, said there was no specific prescription in
any law or regulation in China on whether it was legal to process a baby's birth
certificate and carry out registration procedures using the name Hu D.
"Giving a name is a question of personal right and
freedom. If the name doesn't violate principles or humiliate people, it could be
used," said Chen.
However, he suggested that from a practical point of
view, it was better not to use rare Chinese characters or English words for
names lest they cause unexpected trouble in daily life in the future.