By Nicole Wang
你好 (ni hao-hello)！Did you introduce your friends in Chinese after yesterday’s business-Mandarin lesson on “introductions”? If you have already forgotten what we have learned, please spend some time reviewing it.
Today we are going to learn how to address Chinese names. We have a different format to address Chinese names. In English, the first name goes ahead of the surname, while in Chinese it is the opposite. Chinese put the surname in front of first name. For example, Nicole Wang, which is how I write my name in America, should be written as Wang Nicole in China (And for your reference, Wang is pronounced Wong in Chinese).
On a professional occasion, it is only appropriate to call business colleagues by their surnames, instead of their first names. So, what would be the appropriate time to call a person by his or her first name? The answer is: only when you guys become good friends. Interesting, huh? Mr. Wang in Chinese is 王先生（wang2 xian1 sheng). Miss Li is 李女士（li3 nv3 shi）( another way of saying “miss” in Chinese is 小姐(xiao2 jie3). But be careful using this version as it can have a really bad meaning in Chinese). Mrs. Zhang in Chinese is 张夫人（zhang1 fu1 ren）.
One important thing to remember is that you should be very careful giving yourself a Chinese name. The reason is that Chinese people believe in the concept of Yin-Yang, and your name should balance your personality. If you literally translate from your English name it could be really bad. So, please ask your Chinese friends for help and let them give you a really cool Chinese name. Don’t have any Chinese friends yet? Just contact me and I’ll be glad to help you!
Chinese cultural trivia: Did you know that the first paper money bill was invented by the Chinese 1000 years ago?
Nicole Wang M.S. E.D. is a post-graduate from Penn in International Education. She was born in East Asia, grew up in China and Japan and is passionate and experienced in the area of international educational research, study abroad programming, and Chinese language/culture training. She is currently available for professional assignments and can be reached here.