In China there is a saying “不怕生错命， 就怕起错名” (bu4 pa4 sheng1 cuo4 ming4, jiu4 pa4 qi3 cuo4 ming2), ‘don’t worry about being born with the wrong destiny, but being given the wrong name’. This emphasizes the belief in China that your name will determine your fortune. So, children are named with qualities their parents hope they will posses to give them a good life in the future.
Zodiac predictions can also be used to help parents to pick a suitable name as you want to ensure there is a balance in your child’s life. Chinese names are also very short, with two characters at the most.
Unlike in the west where we name our children after our elders to show respect, in China, this is considered a very big taboo.
For a westerner, it might be hard at the start to hear a difference between male and female given names. As you learn more Chinese you will notice that women’s names emphasize female characteristics like ‘美’ (Mei3, ) ‘beautiful’ or are tied to objects that are seen as feminine ‘莲花’ (lian2 hua1) ‘Lotus flower’.
Girls names will most likely also have phonetic female parts in their character, like my name 安娜 Anna, notice how both the characters have ‘女’ (nv3) meaning female.
Whereas men have names that have ties to strong objects or masculine traits like ‘杰’ (Jie2) meaning heroic.