Vol. 39 No. 3 (1991)
Research Article

Name Styles and Structure of Chinese American Personal Names

Published 1991-09-01



Chinese Americans, the largest and most diverse of the Asian American groups, range from sixth generation, English-speaking only families to recent immigrants speaking various Chinese dialects and other languages (from different countries). Their name styles are a unique synthesis of American and Chinese languages and cultures, closely tied to the number of generations in this country and the understanding of American ways, revealing, in addition to individual taste and sense of history, intimate ties to history and to feelings of nationalism.


  1. Bostwick, Arthur E. “Modern Chinese Personal Names.” Library Journal 57.18 (1932): 868.
  2. Chao, Yuen Ren. Language and Symbolic Systems. New York: Cambridge UP, 1968.
  3. The Chinese Students’iMonthly. Baltimore: The Chinese Students’ Alliance in the United States of America, 1920.
  4. Chinn, Thomas W. “Genealogical Sources of Chinese Immigrants to the United States.” Studies in Asian Genealogy. Ed. Spencer J. Palmer. Provo, UT: Brigham Young UP,1972. 221–28.
  5. De Francis, John. Nationalism and Language Reform in China. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1950.
  6. Directory of Chinese University Graduates and Students in America. New York: Committee on Wartime Planning for Chinese Students in the United States, 1943.
  7. The Dragon Student. San Francisco: Chinese Students’ Alliance of America, 1905.
  8. Dunkling, Leslie Alan. First Names First. New York: Universe Books, 1977.
  9. Gan, Carolyn. “Bay Area Merry Go Round.” Asian Week 2 February 1990: 24.
  10. Gardner, Robert W., Bryant Robey, and Peter C. Smith. “Asian Americans: Growth, Change,and Diversity.” Population Bulletin 40.4 (1985): 3–12, 36–41.
  11. Hummel, Arthur W. “Transcription of Chinese Names.” Library Journal 57.21 (1932): 1006–07.
  12. Kitano, Harry H. L., Wai-Tsang Yeung, Lynn Chai, and Herbert Hatanaka. “Asian-American Interracial Marriage.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 46.1 (1984): 179–90.
  13. Larson, Louise Leung. Sweet Bamboo: A Saga of a Chinese-American Family. Los Angeles: Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, 1989.
  14. Lee, Rose Hum. The Chinese in the United States of America. Hong Kong: Hong Kong UP,1960.
  15. Lin Yutang. My Country and My People. New York: Halcyon House, 1935.
  16. Lu Zhongti, with Celia Millward. “Chinese Given Names since the Cultural Revolution.” Names 37.3 (1989): 265–80.
  17. Ng, Johnny. “Bush Signs Immigration Act.” Asian Week 1 December 1990: 6. “1990 Population Counts of Largest Asian or Pacific Islander Groups in the United States.” Asian Week 14 June 1991: 1.
  18. Seeman, Mary V. “Name and Identity.” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 25.2 (1980): 129–37.
  19. Smith, Elsdon C. Treasury of Name Lore. New York: Harper, 1967.
  20. Soundex to the 1990 California Federal Population Census, T-1034.
  21. Tang, Leang-li, ed. China Facts and Fancies. China Today Series 7. Shanghai: China United P,1936.
  22. Zhu Bin and Celia Millward. “Personal Names in Chinese.” Names 35.1 (1987): 8–21.