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Does anyone know where I can find a list of characters that are, at least in common usage, found only as a component of names (especially of persons) in modern Chinese? I have in mind characters such as 璋, which I have encountered only in names (although my dictionary does contain 圭璋 and 弄璋).

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What is the practical problem you are trying to solve? I can see a few problems that you are trying to create.... –  Jukka K. Korpela Dec 25 '13 at 0:27
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Curiosity, mainly. I suppose that it might also make the identification of some names as names easier. –  user238264 Dec 25 '13 at 0:34
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Since there is no real regulatory restrictions on names, distribution of characters is rather a statistical result for a given geographic and time range. Is that what you're looking for? –  NS.X. Dec 25 '13 at 8:35
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@NS.X. Yes, essentially. Specifically I would like to find the set of characters that occur above some frequency in printed text (say in the last ~50 years) but which are not themselves, and do not form part of, any words occurring above a certain frequency. –  user238264 Dec 25 '13 at 8:47
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@user238264 High rank in frequency list doesn't imply high frequency, let alone that 2805 is not that high. The very most common characters concentrate on a small subset of all Chinese characters. –  hrzhu Dec 28 '13 at 3:05

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Chih-Hao Tsai's Technology Page is an excellent resource (with the caveat that the corpuses it uses are Taiwanese). On this page you can find frequencies of the most common characters used in surnames and given names.

Most common surnames (2012):

陳 林 黃 李 張 王 吳 劉 蔡 楊 許 鄭 謝 郭 洪 邱 曾 賴 廖 徐 周 葉 蘇 莊 呂

It's clear that this is from a Taiwanese source since 陳 is most common; if this were the mainland you'd expect 王 to be the most common.

Here's the list of most common characters in given names (2012); if you cross reference this with the list of most common characters, you get this:

  • 庭 (rank 1447)
  • 婷 (rank 2410)
  • 宇 (rank 1159)
  • 文 (rank 33)
  • 佳 (rank 739)
  • 雅 (rank 1112)
  • 怡 (rank 1651)
  • 家 (rank 66)
  • 柏 (rank 1585)
  • 冠 (rank 1023)
  • 子 (rank 66)
  • 廷 (rank 1834)
  • 安 (rank 360)
  • 翔 (rank 1503)
  • 嘉 (rank 1056)
  • 彥 (rank 1677)
  • 宜 (rank 719)
  • 瑋 (rank 2246)
  • 軒 (rank 1698)
  • 瑜 (rank 1854)
  • 欣 (rank 943)
  • 凱 (rank 1413)
  • 君 (rank 767)
  • 育 (rank 585)
  • 萱 (rank 3029)

So you can see that apart from a few very common characters (like 文, 家 and 子), most of these characters are relatively uncommon outside of names. Keep in mind that characters that are common in given names also obviously show up in the list of most common characters, so anything above say rank 2000 may qualify as "name" characters. I'd say it's very hard to encounter the characters 婷, 瑋 or 萱 outside of names.

You can download the entire corpus and run your own analysis if you wish.

And here's the list of most common given names (note that most of these are two-characters long):

雅婷 雅筑 冠宇 冠廷 怡君 宗翰 佳穎 彥廷 家豪 柏翰 宜庭 郁婷 承翰 詩涵 宇軒 佳蓉 鈺婷 家瑜 怡婷 怡萱 詩婷 怡安 家瑋 郁雯 冠霖

So I wonder how many (thousands) of 陳雅婷 are in the world? :)

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The most common names you list look so "Taiwanese". You would probably see these or similar names in novels written by Taiwanese. Common names in mainland China are different. –  hrzhu Dec 28 '13 at 3:29
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You could actually use a kind of tf-idf to weight the most common characters in names against the most common characters overall to find which characters are most "namish" ones. The ones that come to the top would have the most use in names and the lowest generally, with ones coming lower being less common in names or common in names but also common beyond names. But to work best you really want frequency stats rather than rankings. If you only have rankings you approximate the curve, but I forget which kind it is. –  hippietrail Dec 29 '13 at 8:07
    
Please note, the results here are only based on studies carried out in Taiwan. –  Bolu Jan 8 at 15:15

I'm a Chinese high school student, I knew someone who has a 垚 in her name. 垚 is often used in the belief that if someone is lack of "earth" in the "five elements" (metal金, wood木, water水, fire火 and earth土), it is good to add more 土 to his/her name.

淼,炎,森,鑫 are often used for the same reason.

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short answer: 铖 and 曌

the detailed answer: these charactors were created and used for Emperors only.

you should 'baidu' for the keywords "只能用在名字中的字"

some answer in Chinese: "铖"有只能用于人名的可能。 在明朝的时候,朱元璋规定他的子孙起名时都得按照金木水火土的顺序带偏旁,刚开始倒没什么,但时间一长就出了问题。因为当时起名字的时候也得避讳长辈的名字,这样一来,没过几代,明朝皇室的人就没法起名字了。 为了解决这个问题,当时就有人专门造了一些字,就是给皇家人员起名字用。这些字都是带金木水火土偏旁的,铖是金字旁,有可能就是明朝时造的那批字里的。 这种只能用于名字的字不是非常罕见,比如说李大钊的钊字,除了在名字里面以外,别的地方也见不到它。还有武则天给自己起的名字武曌,这个曌字也是这种。类似的还有,学识有限举不出更多,但是有些字只是用于名字是确有其事的。

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