My name is James Anderson. I am a University lecturer. When I was discussing my research with the Chinese Academy of Sciences they told me I had to get a Chinese name so that they could talk about me. I asked all of my Chinese co-workers to suggest names. I then asked some of my Chinese students to pick the best name from among these suggestions. They mostly agreed on An1De2Sheng1, 安德生, Tranquil Moral Life. It sounds like “Anderson,” it has the structure of a Chines name – “An” is the 70th most common surname in Beijing - and it suits me. I am the strong, calm type, with a clear sense of morals and a clear plan on how to live my life.
Recently I started doing business in China. I had a delegation of translators, business people, engineers and assistants to help me get about. The people I met were happy to use my Chinese name, some complemented me on it, but they also wanted to talk about my wife. Her name, Linda Anne Anderson, isn’t natural in Chinese so I instructed my delegation to come up with a name for her. After a couple of days of discussion they settled on An1Lian2, 安莲,Tranquil Lotus. It sounds a bit like “Anne Lynn” where “Lynn” is an English contracted form of “Linda.” My wife is also the strong, clam type and is quite beautiful so “Lotus” fits well. It is an English affectation that we share the same family name “An.”
The path by which we learners find our Chines name will be different but it is an important journey and one that is better not hurried.
After negotiating a business deal for a month in China and being left to my own devices during down time, I discovered that without Chinese I would die of thirst, hunger and boredom so I signed up for ChinesePod lessons and one of my teachers supplied the Pinyin for the names.