中国人的姓名 Names of Chinese people
The xing (a kind of surname in ancient China) of Chinese peopleappeared during the matriarchal society, when clans were constituted with mothers as the center and distinguished themselves from each other by using xing. The same matriarchal clan could be divided into different branches, so each of such branches had an exclusive “shi .” During the Qin and Han dynasties, xing and shi were combined into one, becoming a symbol of the clan system
Chinese people’s surnames have roughly several origins as follows:
1. With the first name of the mother in the matriarchal society as the surname of a clan. Thus, many ancient surnames have a basic structural part of nü ( 女，meaning “female”), such as Jiang ( 姜 )，Yao ( 姚 ) and Ji ( 姬 ), and the Chinese character for “xing ” ( 姓 ) (surname) is also composed of nü（女）and sheng ( 生，meaning “giving birth to”);
2.With the creatures worshipped in remote antiquity as the surname, such as Ma ( 马，horse), Niu ( 牛，cattle), Yang ( 羊，sheep), Long ( 龙，dragon), etc.;
3. With the names of states where the ancestors lived as the surname, such as Zhao ( 赵 ), Song ( 宋 ), Qin ( 秦 ), Wu ( 吴 ),etc.;
4. With the rank or title of nobility ancestors as the surname,such as Wang ( 王，prince) and Hou (侯，marquis);
5. With theprofession as the surname. For instance, the person who made pottery had the surname of Tao ( 陶，pottery)
中国人的姓有一个字的，也有两个字的。一个字的是单姓，两个字的是复姓。中国到底有多少个姓，到现在也没有准确的统计数字。宋朝时编写的《百家姓》①里收有500 多个姓，其中 60 个是复姓。研究人员经过多年的收集和研究，发现中国人古今姓氏已超过 22,000 个。当代中国人正在使用的汉姓约有 3,500 个左右。在其中 100 个常见姓氏中，人数最多的三个是李、王、张。诸葛、欧阳、司徒、司马等则是中国最常见的复姓。
Chinese people’s surnames consist of one or two Chinese characters. Those containing one Chinese character are known as simple surnames, and those composed of two characters are compound surnames. There is no exact statistic on how many surnames there are in China even up to now. An intellectual of the Song Dynasty wrote a book titled the Family Names of China ① , which covers more than 500 surnames, including over 60 compound ones. Researchers have collected materials and researched for many years, and recently found
that the surnames of the Chinese from ancient times to the present exceeded 22,000. Contemporary Chinese use about 3,500 Chinese surnames. Among the 100 commonly used surnames, the three commonest are Li ( 李 ), Wang ( 王 ) and Zhang ( 张 ), while the commonest compound surnames are Zhuge ( 诸葛 ), Ouyang( 欧阳 ),Situ ( 司徒 ) and Sima ( 司马 )。
In China, the surname comes first, and the given name follows.A given name may contain one or two characters. The given names of members of the same family or clan are arranged in accordance to the sequence of their generations, and those of members of the same generation often contain one shared character indicating the sequence of their generation.
Chinese people are not as particular about their given names today, and usually they have only one xiaoming (informal name) ② and one daming (formal name) ③ , and the given names are not necessarily in compliance to the sequence of generations. However,people increasingly pay attention to the taste, meaning and especially the individuality and uniqueness when they name a child.