The first thing to remember is that Chinese names should always be looked at in totality. A person’s surname must harmonise with the other 2 names. Otherwise the result may be a highly undesirable combination!
For example, the surname Qian should not be followed by Zhi. Qian means “money” or “wealth” and Zhi means “to stop”.
Liu, Du, Li or Yang contain tree radical, so they should not be combined with characters like Shi or Tie, as trees will not grow on rock or iron.
The meanings of Chinese names can be extremely funny, even with common surnames like Zhou. If, for example, one has a name like Zhou Wei Gong, it would sound like the idiomatic Cantonese phrase meaning “wandering about aimlessly”.
Wang means “king”. It should not be combined with names like Dao Zong because they sound like “upside down” and “ends” (dao zong).
Jin means “gold” and should not be followed by Huo (fire) or characters which conflict with metal such as Shao.
Choosing an Auspicious Name
The Chinese believe strongly that a person’s name can affect his destiny, and even change his fortune. When parents are choosing a name for their child, then, there are various factors to consider. It should sound pleasant and be symbolically meaningful. Its yin-yang should harmonise. The combination of Elements in the name should be a favourable one.
The interaction of each character in terms of the Elements follows the Chinese concept of mutual production and destruction. For example, Wood burns to produce Fire which gives rise to Earth in which Metal is buried. Water appears as dew on Metal and helps Wood to grow.
In the order of mutual destruction, Wood covers Earth; Earth absorbs Water; Water destroys Fire. Wood is cut by Metal, and Metal is in turn burned by Fire.
When you wish to choose an auspicious Chinese name, it is important to follow a systematic approach. Analyse the date of birth and find out the missing Elements. Supplement by adding the missing elements in the name.
Then check the character and yin/yang of the surname. It is believed that the Eight Characters or Binomials of Birth are signs of destiny.
Therefore it is important to analyse the date of birth to find out if there is a balance or completeness in terms of the elements and in terms of yin and yang.
If there is balance and harmony in his name the person will enjoy good luck and bring honour to his family. If not, he may be burdened by failures and even ill-health. Thus, it is important to search for an auspicious name which spells equilibrium and harmony.
For example, if the baby was born on the 10th of March 1943 at 4 am, we know the Elements of his birth were Wood, Water, Fire and Gold. It is good to bring in the Earth Element in his name. If his surname is of Fire, the best combination of Elements in his name would be Fire, Fire, Earth or Fire, Earth, Gold or Fire, Earth, Earth. (These desirable combinations of Elements have been recorded by Chinese astrologers many centuries ago).
Once the desirable Elements are noted it is best to analyse the surname to find out its Element, Character (yin or yang gender) and the number of strokes that make up the word. To the Chinese all things, numbers and words can be classified into yin or yang gender.
The yin and yang character of the entire name has to have equilibrium in order that the person grows up to be a balanced and intelligent person. Once the surname has been analysed then the first and middle names can be decided upon.
After the Elements and yin/yang gender have been determined and balanced, the total number of strokes in the entire name has to be examined to ensure it is an auspicious figure. Then it is a question of seeing if any radicals may be added to further enhance the name according to the horoscopes of birth because each Chinese lunar year is associated with an animal symbol which exerts influence on those born in it. Finally, the meaning of the name has to be checked which when pronounced should never sound ridiculous.
Nevertheless, the analysis of a name is not the be-all and end-all, for it should be realised that a person’s luck and life is not solely dependent on his name. In Chinese people’s mind a person’s life is besides influenced by his fate, his yun (destiny), the feng shui of his living and working environment, his virtue and his educational background.