Monday, September 22, 2008

Chinese surnames

The first name in a Chinese name is the surname. For example, if a Chinese man is named ‘Tan Huat Chye’, then his surname is ‘Tan’. In China, surnames are spelt according to pinyin. Hence the above name will be called ‘Chen Fa Cai’.
In Malaysia, surnames are spelt according to Chinese dialects. If the above man is a Hokkien, his name will be spelt as ‘Tan Huat Chye’ as in the example. However, if he is a Cantonese, then ‘Chan Fa Choy’ is his name.

There are about one hundred Chinese surnames. These are some examples of them: Lim, Sim, Koay, Lee, Lian, Saw, Cheang, Ong, Khor, Teh, Lau, Teoh, Chuah, and See (all in Hokkien dialects).
Some Chinese who adopt Christian names will have their surnames at the back of the Christian names. For instance, Robert Lim’s surname is Lim.

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