2009-01-27 — Good Characters (Leave a message)
We just received this request from Tony:
“I used your services a couple of years ago to help me name my oldest daughter and I am very happy. Now I need your help to name my 2nd daughter who is 4 now and I can describe her personality . . . You gave me excellent information. I will be honored if you would help me again. Thanks.”
Tony is an unusual man, and his daughter had an unusual name. I’d like to share with you the story of finding a unique Chinese name for a unique girl.
Tony is of Chinese heritage. Both his parents are Chinese, but he was born and raised in a small Chinese community South America. He can speak Cantonese, but he did not learn how to write it. Although he has a Chinese name, he was unable to give one to his daughter, Zyra Edith. So he came to us. He described her personality and sent us a picture (She was so cute!).
At 18 months of age, Zyra . . .
. . . had strong character (she was born in the Year of the Horse, just like her mom).
. . . was already very sure of herself.
. . . was a fun, loving, and caring person.
. . . had a unique look that made her stand out in a crowd.
We’ve translated Zyra as 采華 (cai hua) because she seems to be a confident girl who is cheerful and bright and is always noticed.
Here’s the meaning of the name:
采 (cai, pronounced tsigh) is taken from 風采 (feng cai), meaning impressive and likable bearing; graceful bearing; elegant demeanor (or appearance or presence).
For example, the Chinese term 大放異采 or 大放異彩 (da fang yi cai) means to yield unusually brilliant results.
多姿多采 or 多姿多彩 (duo zi duo cai) means colorful and varied in posture.
神采奕奕 (shen cai yi yi) is glowing with health and radiating vitality.
神采飛揚 (shen cai fei yang) is to be in high spirits.
文采 (wen cai) means literary grace, literary talent, or elegant appearance.
華 (hua, pronounced hwah) is China, Chinese, magnificent, or flourishing.
It is also the ancient character for 花 (hua), meaning flower.
For example, the term 華貴 (hua gui) means luxurious, sumptuous, or magnificent.
華裔 (hua yi) is a non-Chinese citizen of Chinese origin.
華麗 (hua li) means gorgeous, resplendent, or splendid.
繁華 (fan hua) is ostentatiously prosperous or bustling and flourishing.
風華 (feng hua) is elegance, talent, and grace.
Together, 采華 produces a unique name that sounds like Zyra and hints at elegance and vitality that stands out in a crowd.
Tony’s last name in Chinese is 吳, pronounced wu in Mandarin and ng (like um) in Cantonese.
The Chinese surname 吳 (wu) sounds the same as 無 (wu), meaning without, nil, or nothing. Therefore, it is always a little tricky to name someone with this surname. For example, if your name is Smart, with the surname it translates as “Wu, Smart” and sounds like “Not Smart.” Similarly, Wu with the name Beauty would sound like “Not Beautiful.”
For Zyra’s full Chinese name, 吳 (wu) 采華 (cai hua), placing the surname in front of the given name, as Chinese do, creates a danger that the name will be perceived as 無采 (wu cai), meaning not responsive. However, there is another, stronger and more frequently used association that comes to mind: 五彩 (wu cai), meaning multicolored. The Chinese term 五彩繽紛 (wu cai bin fen) means colorful or blazing with color. It also goes well with the third character 華 (hua), meaning magnificent or flourishing. The positive associations for the name when the characters are placed in this order outweighs the potential negative twist.
Zyra is now 采華 (pronounced tsigh hwah). We love the name!
Above: Chinese Name for Zyra Edith: Wu Cai-Hua