Chinese American Names

Tradition and Transition

$19.99

In stock

Add to Wishlist
Add to Wishlist

About the Book

The naming practices of Chinese Americans are the focus of this work. Since Chinese immigration began in the mid–19th century, names of immigrants and their descendants have been influenced by both Chinese and American name customs. This detailed study first describes the naming traditions of China, providing a base for understanding how personal names may change in the interaction between cultures. One discovers that surnames are clues to Chinese dialect sounds, that many have been Americanized, that new surnames were created and that, in more recent decades as the Chinese American population has grown, new names practices developed and surnames have proliferated. Included are ideographs to surnames and an overview of their preservation by Americans of Chinese descent.

About the Author(s)

Emma Woo Louie of Palo Alto, California, is a second generation Chinese American whose concern about her children’s family knowledge led to this book. She also wanted to record for posterity the surnames spelled according to Cantonese and other non–Mandarin dialects that arose for Chinese Americans from the 19th century to 1950.

Bibliographic Details

Emma Woo Louie
Foreword by Him Mark Lai
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 22 photos, tables, appendix, glossary, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008 [1998]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3877-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword by Him Mark Lai      1

Acknowledgments      3

Introduction      7

PART I: CHINESE NAME TRADITIONS      13

1. History, Myths and Family Names      15

2. Sources of Family Names      22

3. Some Characteristics of Family Names      33

4. On Chinese Given Names      42

5. The Generation Name      51

PART II: NAMES AS CLUES TO IDENTITY      59

6. Who Are Chinese Americans?      61

7. A Great Variety in Dialect Sound      70

8. A Choice of Name Styles      82

PART III: CHINESE AMERICAN NAME CUSTOMS      93

9. Chinese Names in Early Official Records      95

10. Stabilizing Surnames      106

11. It’s Only a “Paper” Name      113

12. Attempts to Standardize Chinese Name Spelling      117

13. Americanization of Names      123

14. Transferring Name Traditions      132

15. New Patronyms and Other New Names      139

16. Surname Clumping and Family Associations      149

PART IV: WHAT’S IN A SURNAME CHARACTER?       161

17. Parsing the Character      163

18. Preserving the Surname Character      168

19. Summary      177

Appendix: Common Surnames and Their Chinese Characters      181

Glossary      193

Notes      197

Selected Bibliography      209

Index      223

Book Reviews & Awards

“unique…interesting…a wealth of information…the first serious, comprehensive study of Chinese American names…engagingly written and often amusing…quite insightful…rich details on Chinese naming practices…outstanding…one of the most important sources for studying Chinese American history and naming practices”—NAMES; “new, unique…comprehensive…a great read”—Pacific Reader; “explains the mysteries”—C&RL News.