Hi, my name is Deng Peaceful Concrete 邓安凝

One late night at the office a few colleagues and I were discussing the Chinese names of the office laowai. Selecting a Chinese name is an interesting process. Because there’s no family name to start with, you instead must attempt to mimic the sound of your given name with words that also, hopefully, have a beautiful meaning. As many comedians have noted and poked fun of, the meaning is probably the most important part of the name and is easily misinterpreted.

Most of the time, it’s up to a Chinese friend or teacher to impart a name upon you. For instance, when one colleague divulged his Chinese name, there was a general “Oh” that spread across the room. His name basically means “foreigner.” Because finding a Chinese name is a rite of passage for learning Chinese or entering China, you are usually named by a friend at the beginning of your stay, and therefore may have little say or complete understanding of its meaning. I was lucky enough to have a creative mind dub me Deng AnNing (邓安凝).

The meaning of a name, however, is not immediately recognizable. Each of the three sounds that make up my name, for example, could have a number of different meanings depending on their tone. “Deng” can mean light, wait, go up and bench; “an” means press, peaceful, proud and table; and “ning”, peaceful, gaze, pinch and concrete. Even the same character can have different meanings. Therefore, when you introduce yourself in Chinese, to a native or non-native speaker, an explanation of each character and meaning is in order. The usual introduction starts with the name, and then a breakdown of each character with an example phrase. So let me introduce myself, my name is Deng AnNing, Deng as in Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese reformer who led China towards a market economy, An as in peaceful, and Ning as in concrete or something stable. And while Deng Peaceful Concrete may sound strange and hideous to you, my name has consistently been appreciated by Chinese colleagues and friends.

One Response to “Hi, my name is Deng Peaceful Concrete 邓安凝”
  1. dicksonjohn says:

    Pretty cool. I clicked on laowai and the translation came up.

    Your name sounds better than its meaning. can we call you concrete for short?

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