Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Unsuitable baby names

Picking a name for your baby is really not an easy task. When were choosing names for our children we had to crack our heads on some of the following:

  • The name should sound nice
  • The name should be easy to pronounce
  • The name should be unique and special
  • The name should say something about the child
  • The name should have a nice meaning
  • etc etc etc

Sometimes chinese names (and I'm sure names of other races too) give a different meaning when combined with another word for example. It can also give a different sound and meaning when said in another language. It can be mispronounced by school teachers and school mates thereby giving the child a hard time or worse still causing the child to be potentially picked on at school. (On the other hand a chinese parent giving the child an English name may find that it is pronounced in the wrong way by the child's grandparents instead). It is really tough to come up with just the right name for your child.

In fact recently, The National Registration Department of Malaysia, to spare the poor baby the blushes when he or she grows up, has come up with a list of "undesirable" names for Malays, Indians and Chinese. Some of the unsuitable names on the list include:

  • Chow Kow (meaning smelly dog in Cantonese)
  • Ah Chwar (meaning snake in Hokkien)
  • Karrupusamy (meaning Black God in Tamil)
  • Woti (meaning sexual intercourse in Malay)
  • Chang Chee (meaning prostitute in Mandarin)
  • numbers are not allowed to so you can't call your child "007"
  • and you can't name your child after a japanese car!

You can read more about it here and here.

The author of a popular baby-naming book says while she doesn't believe in name destiny, some of the thinking makes sense. "It doesn't only say something about you but more so about your parents and why they chose that name for you," says Laura Wattenberg, author of Baby Name Wizard.

"I asked people on my website to tell me what names they find the most friendly name to be, and what I see is most people find simple, classic names such as Molly, Sam and Ben to be the most likable and friendly. People respond to you a certain way, and it in return helps shape your behaviour."

To ensure your baby does not get stuck in a name that makes him/her the brunt of jokes in later life, parents should really think very hard and do a little research before naming their babies.

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  1. When we chose my girl's Chinese name it was sucha headache. Have to make sure it sounds good in Cantonese, Mandarin AND Shanghaiese dialects. On top of that, have to count the strokes just to make sure the number is a good one. Each number (the total of strokes) has the child's personality prediction. To me it's more like hoping the child will turn out to be as mentioned by the description. Chinese tradition damn susah. If don't follow, nanti afraid the child will have a susah future.

  2. I saw the link to your blog from the Baby Name Wizard. How interesting! I have a daughter named India. Good thing we don't live in Malaysia.
    I never considered how hard it would be to pick a name in such a multilingual place.

  3. vien,
    Hubby and I are both do not know any Mandarin characters. We had a surname and a second character carried down from generations which we had to follow so all we had to do was pick the 3rd character. So we asked some friends and colleagues to come up with a list for us. We narrowed down the list to about 3 which we liked and passed that list to our parents to choose from. Thats how we picked the chinese name.

    So, which strokes did you count? Chinese Simplified or Chinese Traditional? Lol!

    Hello and Welcome to my blog. Yes, we have to be careful about how the name would sound when pronounced in another dialect as Vien said. A good sounding name in one dialect may sound like something else altogether in another. Another thing, a chinese name may be really hard to be pronounced by our Malay or Indian friends and vice versa which leads to the name sounding very different from the intended.

  4. I'd prefer English name rather than a Punjabi name for my children. My MIL insisted that we follow the bible to see what alphabet comes out for my son but FIL said it's up to us. So, I've decided to name my son Keith Damian Singh.Hehe...I dislike Punjabi name as u can even differentiate their gender coz' a male and female can have the same name. For eg, Jasbir, Charanjit,Gurmit,et. The only this that differentiate their gender is the Singh (man) and Kaur (ladies).

  5. Soli. Typo error. Wat I mean is,
    I dislike Punjabi name as u CAN'T even differentiate their gender coz' a male and female can have the same name.

  6. The fengshui ppl use Traditional Chinese to count the stroke. My dad's family has an ancestor book that dictates all the middle name too. My hubby's family ancestor book was banished/burned during the Cultural Revolution.

  7. sabrina,
    Oh, I didn't know that about Punjabi names. Thanks for the info.

    So many considerations eh? Right down to the number of strokes. Must go and check the number of strokes in my childrens' name and see what they mean now. Lol!


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