Speed Reads

what's in a name

Chinese state media has a guide for picking the perfect English name — and it's not Satan

If you find yourself in a situation where you can pick a new name, ask yourself this: Would you do business with a man named Bunny Wang?

Chinese state media has come up with some tips for people who might want to start using an English name, but don't want to offend anyone they might work alongside, the BBC discovered. CCTV News, for example, recommends avoiding non-names (so no "Dragon," "Surprise," or "Lawyer") and food names. "To put it bluntly," the report says, "names like Candy, Lolly, Sugar (think anything sweet) are typically thought of as 'non-smart girl' names or 'stripper' names."

You are also warned against combining a "food name" with an "animal name," because that often results in a "sex name." Throw in "Dong" and "Wang," and you have a serious problem: Readers are urged to "avoid anything like 'Bunny Wang' at all times."

You could pick the name of a famous person if it's a regular name — no one would be shocked to meet an Angelina — but don’t take on Einstein, Madonna, or Obama. As the report says, "You have some pretty big shoes to fill there." In the same vein, fictional characters can be safe — you can go by Harry if you're a Potter fan — but don't call yourself Dumbledore. "Unique names like these aren't just very amusing to English speakers, it also suggests you have some connection to that name," the article explains. "So if you call yourself Satan, you might get a few foreigners thinking you're anti-Christian, or possibly a member of a heavy metal band." You have been warned.