Wednesday, 1 March 2017

About Novel Names

This public collection of weird names began because it was noticeable that people in Hong Kong have a high proportion of novel English first names that are, to say the least, creative, funny and even daring.

For instance, a pre-2007 analysis of registered solicitors in Hong Kong revealed 2.5% (i.e. 143 out of 5,707) have novel names. These are legal professionals who like to be called Alcid, Baptista, Crimean, Ferant, Kiril, Tennessy, Urania, Wimmie and Winchester. Where else in the world are there a bunch of educated, smart professionals who have silly names? A more recent observation in 2017 shows 19% (8 out of 43) of people working within a charity group called InspiringHK have novel names. It is likely that for every 5 people you meet in Hong Kong, at least one will possess a weird name.

A Novel Name here is defined as uncommon, unusual or unique. Over the years in Hong Kong, I have collected a fair number of novel names (which is why this site features a regular "Novel Name of the Day" post).



Possessing a novel name is a phenomenon that is observed most frequently among Hong Kong Chinese, whereas it is relatively less common to spot a novel name among, say, mainland Chinese, Singapore Chinese and Taiwanese (although in all likelihood there will be a growing number of people from China, Singapore and Taiwan who will probably choose interesting "Western" names too). But what is it about the psyche of Hong Kong Chinese that compels them to lead the way in creating and using odd-sounding novel names? Some academics (featured here) have had a crack at explaining this phenomenon.

From my understanding, when individuals in a society are unaware or are ignorant of name rules or memes (due to English being a second or foreign language) then, depending on how that society regards the values of "creativity" and "conformity", there will be individuals who will adopt rare, uncommon names (e.g. Adolf) and perhaps even create their own novel names (e.g. Alnwick). Dare I ask whether expressions of creativity and free thought are relatively more common in Hong Kong compared with, say, Singapore and mainland China?

There are other possible reasons (e.g. mainland Chinese are relative latecomers in adopting English first names, Singaporeans have a relatively better grasp of traditional English, etc). It would be fascinating to hear other people's thoughts on this, so here are other articles about Novel Names: What's in a Hong Kongers Name? (SCMP.com); Hong Kong Loves Weird Names (The Atlantic); Your Name Reveals More Than You Think (BBC.com) and Hilarious English Names Chinese People Choose (TheWorldOfChinese.com).

In the meantime, I hope this site's "Novel Name of the Day" feature will bring some enjoyment, laughter and perhaps curiosity to readers.


HOW YOU CAN HELP
If you come across any strange, weird names that really stand out, please pass it on to this site. If you can include the person's full name, occupation, location and if possible a photo or a reference link, that would be extremely helpful. All Novel Names on this site are legitimate, real people with officially-recognized names. Thank you!


Related Posts:



0324 HKSAR Name of the Day (see comments, which are insightful)

Picking and Choosing Names: Korea

Mr Bean On Silly Names


About Novel HKSAR Names (see comments, which are insightful)



 

Other people's thoughts on novel names:

What's in a Hong Kongers Name? (SCMP.com)

Hong Kong Loves Weird English Names (The Atlantic) 

Your Name Reveals More Than You Think (BBC.com)

Mun Yin Liu: Why are Hong Kong names so weird?  (CNN Travel)
 
Shanghai Surprise
 

Named

What's in a name?





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