A growing number of Chinese parents have taken to choosing an English name for their offspring in the hope of helping them gain a future foothold in Britain and the West.
Unfortunately that has led to mixed results, with some Chinese children now blessed with names such as Cinderella, Gandalf and even Rolex.
Step forward Beau Jessup – a 16-year-old schoolgirl who has earned more than £48,000 offering advice to Chinese families on how to choose rather more suitable English names.
Beau, a pupil at Cheltenham Ladies College, hit on the idea during a family visit to China, when she was asked by friends during a meal out to suggest an English name for their newborn baby.
She set up the website Specialname to suggest culturally appropriate English names for prospective parents by matching the meaning of the name to the family’s ideals and aspirations for their child.
Six months on Beau has named more than 232,000 Chinese babies, using names such as George, William, Catherine and Susan.
Beau said she decided to set up the website after hearing some of the embarrassing English names Chinese parents had chosen for their children.
She said: When I went to China I kept being asked to name babies for my parent’s friends. They explained an English name is vital because you can’t use a Chinese name on email or a university application to the UK. Your English name stays with you for life.
But I also heard lots of examples where people had chosen culturally inappropriate English names they’d heard from films or read online and realised there was an opportunity to help Chinese people get it right from the start.
The confusion is partly the result of Chinese government censorship of the internet restricting its citizens’ understanding of western cultural references.
There are quite a few examples where people have gotten the names wrong. Being exposed to luxury items and things like Harry Potter, Disney films and Lord of the Rings means they use those for reference. I once heard of someone called Gandalf and another called Cinderella,” said Beau.
Her website suggests a shortlist of three culturally-appropriate names for the baby, producing a shortlist, along with the original meaning of the name and a famous namesake such as Grace Kelly or Catherine Middleton.
The A level student, from Edge, near Painswick, says she doesn’t know which names are the most popular on her website, and she’s “happy about that”.
She said: “It is called ‘special name’ and it’s based on individual preference and what they personally want their child to be. It’s nice to be a part of such a happy experience and be a part of those young stages in a baby’s life.”
“I’m not really qualified or relevant enough in that baby’s life to be the person to give it a name, she said. I wanted to do it just to see if an idea could turn into more than just simply an idea. And I never expected it to become more than just a small project. It is obviously a nice surprise, but it is definitely a surprise.”
Beau is using the income from the website to save for university and says setting it up and talking to her clients has already helped with her Mandarin.
Songbu Wang, who chose her son’s English name using the Specialname website, told Gloucestershire Live: I chose Nathan because it sounds strong, what’s more, I have seen the definition from my Specialname certificate; Nathan means ‘generous’.
I think a good man should be generous, then women will like him. I hope my son isn’t a jealous guy. I think English name can influence my child’s life.”
News Source TelegraphNews