Taiwanese Baby Names vs. Chinese Baby Names

According to an article I spotted a few days ago in a Singaporean newspaper, Taiwanese baby names are more traditionally Chinese than Chinese baby names are, thanks to the Cultural Revolution. Here’s an excerpt:

In Taiwan, housing agents I met had words like meng or lun in their names, linking them to Mencius and Confucius. (Meng for Meng Zi or Mencius; Lun, as in lun li, or ethics, often used to refer to Confucian ethics).

In China, there is no sign of the sages in names so far. Rather, a guest on a TV show is named Zhou Mo, which means “weekend”. “My mum said a name only had to be easy to remember,” she explained.

Instant recall is not a quality that Taiwanese parents would normally look for in choosing baby names. By far more important is the hope that their children would grow up under the positive influence of the ancient philosophers they are named after.

In many ways, the Taiwanese are more “Chinese” than their compatriots on the mainland, where age-old traditions went up in flames in the bonfire of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Much was lost as young Red Guards set fire to books, including the classics, and smashed altars in the chaos of those years.

In contrast, Taiwan under the Kuomintang (KMT) went the other way, stressing the learning of the classics to show that the island represented the true China.

For anyone who’s lived in Taiwan and/or China: What names did you encounter there? Did they follow this pattern?

Source: Ho Ai Li. “Taipei a woman, Beijing a man.” Straits Times [Singapore] 12 Sept. 2010.

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