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to feel uncomfortable about giving Chinese names to my (future) children?

(94 Posts)
Lilylo Mon 04-Apr-16 13:01:11

Hi all, I am aware that yesterday there was a thread about exactly the same topic, but the OP was apparently trolling so the thread was removed by MSNHQ.

However, I realized that I am very interested in hearing opinions from other posters about exacly the same topic, so I am trying to reopen the discussion (I promise I am not a troll!!!).

So, DH and I don't have kids yet but we plan to start a family in the next 2/3 years, so we started talking about baby things, including names we like.

A bit of background:

-DH is from a Chinese family, but he grew up abroad. On his passport he has English name + Chinese name + Chinese surname. Everyone knows him as [English name], no one uses his Chinese name ever.

- I am French, so on my documents I have French name + French surname.

When we have kids, we would like to give both our surnames to reflect the mixed heritage. We live and will live in the UK, so our children will grow up in an English speaking environment.

We fundamentally disagree about the name combination:

DH would like to name our children English Name + Chinese Name + Chinese Surname + French Surname.

What a mess!!! He says his family cares about having a Chinese name even though no one uses it. In this way our children would have names that reflect their Chinese heritage much more than their French heritage.

In my opinion the most balanced combination would be: English name + Chinese surname + French Surname.

In this way our children would have an English element (to make their day to day life in the UK easier), a Chinese element and a French element to their names, thus reflecting both their heritage and the culture/ country where the will grow up.

AIBU to feel like a Chinese name would just make life more complicated for our future children?

shovetheholly Mon 04-Apr-16 13:24:11

I honestly don't think that just because there are two Chinese names and only one French one it means that the French names are somehow deprioritised!! You could argue the opposite, in fact - that by making the Chinese names the middle names (traditionally the least important) and by reversing the usual Chinese priority of order where surname precedes forename, the Western elements of the identity are foregrounded. Traditionally, in both cultures, surnames have borne more of the weight of identity than other parts of the name and that part is French?!

I am worried that this is such an issue for you? Can you explain a bit more why it bothers you so much? Are there other ways in which you feel the French part of your identity is getting neglected?

NynaevesSister Mon 04-Apr-16 13:27:18

My friends have the Chinese name as a middle name.

guerre Mon 04-Apr-16 13:31:16

I have a lot of BBC (British Born Chinese) friends and colleagues. All have English Name, Chinese Name, Chinese Surname.
All my friends from HK and Taiwan have Chinese Name, English Name, Surname, but use English Name (or nickname) except with their families.

guerre Mon 04-Apr-16 13:33:22

Sorry, you're French, so if you're staying in UK. I'd choose a name that works in UK and France- loads of those, French names are v popular here and English names are v popular in France at present!

Lilylo Mon 04-Apr-16 13:33:24


Thank you for your thoughtful answer. I think the reasons why this bothers me so much are:

- we are going to live in the UK, not in China. Our children will most likely feel British, they will grow up here. I don't want to give them names that will make then feel different from their peers and like they don't belong here.

- my husband is ethnically Chinese, but honestly that's it. He grew up in Australia, English is his mother tongue, he has very little ties to the Chinese culture, besides his parents. Giving Chinese names to children what will be so little exposed to the actual Chinese culture seems a bit forced to me.

I we wanted to make this 100% "fair" then our poor DC will be named English name + Chinese name + French name + Chinese surname + French surname. I think we all agree that would sound ridicolous.

So I think representing their three "cultures" with English name + Chinese surname + French surname would be a balanced and non ridicolous solution.

VinceNoirLovesHowardMoon Mon 04-Apr-16 13:36:25

Aren't you just talking about a Chinese middle name? Nobody really cares about middle names

TheElementsSong Mon 04-Apr-16 13:39:01

Are you planning to start your family very soon OP? It's just that you seem to be rather overthinking here.

I can't see any reason why DC would need an English first name to make life "easier" confused - I'm sure most people are perfectly comfortable with French names so that cuts down on one of your variables smile

I'm of Chinese ethnic origin, husband is English. DDs have English first name - Chinese middle name - English surname. (We could have added my surname too but I didn't like how the 2 surnames sounded together.) I don't find that having a Chinese middle name makes life more complicated in any way (after all, I've managed for several decades)?

scandichick Mon 04-Apr-16 13:39:07

But you don't know where your kids will end up - I have a common Scandinavian name that no one seems to be able to pronounce in the UK. My parents couldn't have foreseen that. You do know, however, what heritage your children will have. I don't think lots of names to reflect that bus ridiculous at all, although it would make sense to combine French/English names since there's such a large overlap. Sorry, I'm with your husband on this.

MuddhaOfSuburbia Mon 04-Apr-16 13:41:37

EnglishFrench name Chinese name Chinese name French name


Babymouse Mon 04-Apr-16 13:41:40

I'm part Japanese. I have an English first name - Japanese middle name - and an English surname. Maybe being American has something to do with it, but it's never caused any problems or triggered an existential crisis for me. ;)

That particular combination does ignore the Dutch side of my family though. I think ultimately you should go with what you are comfortable with, all name choices should be a compromise, but you may be putting to much weight on a Chinese name making your kids feel different in a negative way.

AdriftOnMemoryBliss Mon 04-Apr-16 13:42:34

i think your suggestion sounds better.

I do have friends who used English name + Chinese Surname while at school, but then returned to using their Chinese Name as adults. So for instance plucking two names Elenor Chen became Wai Ling Chen as an adult (said Chen Wai Ling when using her full name, she was quite insistent on this) but they were born in China, spoke Cantonese as first language, English second.

For your children who will be born and raised here, i think you're better off with english name, chinese middle name and french surname, at least then they have a choice to change when they're older, its not uncommon for people to have their middle name as their 'use' name.

dizzytomato Mon 04-Apr-16 13:44:01

I think you can always find English/French first names so that means you can have

French/English (let's call it European) name-Chinese name- Chinese surname-French surname. Why not have the Chinese name as a middle name. It's nice, kids like to have links to their culture.

We live in Brazil, I'm British and DH is Brazilian. The children have a Brazilian the first name of 3 of them is common in England and Brazil and one has a Portuguese name that most Brits can say correctly. So their middle names are all distinctly British. They love telling people their middle names, it defines who they are.

AnotherEmma Mon 04-Apr-16 13:44:14

I agree with you that three names would be the most balanced solution. In reality though you could choose a first name which works in both English and French. So arguably two names (the first name and second surname) would sound French. Given that a middle name is never really used - only on a birth certificate, passport and other official documents - I don't think it really matters too much. If it means a lot to your DH to give your child a middle name, why not? Could you choose a name that is meaningful in both "western" and Chinese culture? If you don't want a Chinese name, could you chose a name related to the Chinese year the baby is born, for example, or something that's significant in another way? I think it's more important to choose a middle name that you both like, and that is significant to one or both of you if that's what you want, than being very strict and insisting a perfectly neat, balanced name.

As a friend said to me about a recent disagreement with me about DH... Pick your battles. And compromise if you can.

AnotherEmma Mon 04-Apr-16 13:45:18

Correction: disagreement between me and DH

DotForShort Mon 04-Apr-16 13:46:05

I posted on the other thread, had no idea it was a troll (and I thought my trolldar was pretty good at this point). What an. . . odd subject to troll about.

Anyway, I don't think that a middle name would create "a mess." If it is important to your DH that the children have a Chinese middle name, why not? Sounds like a good solution to me.

hibbleddible Mon 04-Apr-16 13:47:48

I also think yabu.

English and French names have a lot of overlap, so you can choose one that is both for the first name + Chinese middle name + Chinese last name + French last name. This would be an equal representation, and most would say it is more than equal, as it is only the first name that really matters.

If scoring 'points' about the number of names really matters so much to you, and you can't find an acceptable French/English first name, then you could go along the lines English first name + Chinese middle name + French middle name + Chinese last name + French last name.

TheElementsSong Mon 04-Apr-16 13:48:25

I'm just confused at the idea that any "non-English" nomenclature will result in a complicated life and ostracism from one's peers in the UK.

I look around at DDs' school friends, at my co-workers, etc - a wide variety of names, spellings and pronunciations (even the English ones) and yet we all seem to rub along just fine.

GeoffreysGoat Mon 04-Apr-16 13:51:51

Aren't most European people given a forename and a middle name any way? So, eg Kelly Danyang Double-Barrelled would be pretty much to be expected.

Fwiw ds's Chinese (of chinese-born parents) friends at school have Chinese names but follow the Western format iyswim. Doesn't appear to cause any issue among the 3 year olds!

AdrenalineFudge Mon 04-Apr-16 13:52:02

Absolutely elements I never understand the handwringing over ethnic names. I'm from a mixed background and have both native names + english name. It's never been an issue. If you like the name then you go with it.

shovetheholly Mon 04-Apr-16 13:52:15

lilylo - I really hope that your children would not be made to feel 'different' or 'out of place' for having Chinese names. sad So many people in the UK already have names reflecting all kinds of wonderfully mixed heritage so there is no reason that they wouldn't 'fit' into British culture. Also, I hope that the vast majority of people would say that if someone ever made children feel that they didn't belong because they had Chinese names, then that would be racism pure and simple. I see no reason why they couldn't be BOTH French AND Chinese AND British and completely comfortable with all three of those identities in harmony. They are three wonderful, rich cultures after all.

No-one I know here really uses middle names, except those who have chosen them in preference to, and as a proxy for, a first name that they dislike. And the reason for doing that is to demote the first name to a kind of middle name, because that effectively makes it disappear! To put it another way, you could call them 'Forename sausages beans Surname' and hardly anyone would ever find out if they didn't want them to grin. DH has four names, and no-one ever hears the two middle ones - he never uses them, ever. In fact, I have to check up sometimes what order they go in!!

guerre Mon 04-Apr-16 13:54:40

Indeed, the elements!
This is 21st century Britain. I don't actually know any Elizabeths or Phillips in real life!
My DC have three forenames, one for each of their heritage cultures. It works fine, and they can choose what they wish to be known as when they're adults. They both like their first forenames best at present.

GingerLeaves Mon 04-Apr-16 13:58:20

YANBU - I think your idea is much better smile

KatharinaRosalie Mon 04-Apr-16 14:01:54

French name- Chinese name- Chinese last name- French last name

There are plenty of French first names that work perfectly well in English-speaking countries. And it would be all nice and equal.

ArcheryAnnie Mon 04-Apr-16 14:04:20

I don't see the problem with a Chinese middle name and a Chinese surname - it won't take anything away from the English first name and the French surname, just add to it.

we are going to live in the UK, not in China. Our children will most likely feel British, they will grow up here. I don't want to give them names that will make then feel different from their peers and like they don't belong here

Having a set of names that reflects a complicated heritage is possibly the most British thing there is. It's not even a recent thing - look at all of British history and it's there. If you live in a city, this is even more true.

Might it be the case that you are taking French views about language and names and assuming that British views on language and naming are similar? I don't know much about French culture, but I have always heard that these things are much more controlled in France than they are the UK. There might be such a thing as an "unFrench" name, I don't know, but I am not convinced at all there is such a thing as an "unBritish" name.

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