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How sinologists choose their Chinese names

Updated: 2015-08-03 06:00

As the third Visiting Program for Young Sinologists attracted China experts from different countries to Beijing recently, we talked to some of them about their Chinese names.

How sinologists choose their Chinese names

Peruvian Sinologist Claudia Zuiga. [Photo by Jiang Wanjuan/chinadaily.com.cn]

Claudia Zuiga, a lawyer of the Department of Chinese Service, Rossello Law Office, Peru. Her research areas include Chinese culture and cooperation between China and Latin American countries.

My Chinese name is Mudan (牡丹), it is Chinese for peony, the national flower of China.

When I first arrived in China to study Chinese in 2008, the teacher asked for my western name so she could give me a name that phonetically sounded alike. I told her I'd rather choose a name that has a meaning and can represent my appreciation of Chinese culture and tradition and my willingness to learn about it. She gave me three days to think about it.

I couldn't speak Chinese then. As I went for a walk to think about it, I saw the picture of this big flower on a wall and I recalled that even in my country that flower was found around Chinese places. On my way out, I asked my Chinese friends about that flower and they told me it was mudan (peony), the national flower.

After hearing it and researching on the Internet about it, I immediately fell in love with the meaning that mudan represents.

However, my teacher told me that mudan was not a name and that I couldn't use it. I explained to her that I wanted to name myself after mudan because it can represent my desire to know more about China, to be a part of it, to put a smile on the face of Chinese people when I meet them, because it seemed to me that Chinese people like peonies. So, she ended up agreeing to it, and my Chinese name from then on became Mudan.

I love my Chinese name, because every time I say it, it puts a smile on people's face.

I think Sinologists should think carefully about their names.

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