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I'm writing a novel and I have a character that is of Chinese descent. The story takes place centuries into the future on another planet with only a handful (few several thousand) humans left. Of those humans that remain I want there to be traditions that have been passed down and at least some degree of maintaining culture. With that said, one of my characters is Chinese and I want her to have a first and last name that fits well.

This character is a female pilot, very smart, but more than that I'd like her name to be a clue about her role in the story. She is extremely embittered by circumstances but nevertheless has a strong spirit and strong heart and is ultimately very, very good. Anything that might have a meaning of "dutiful" or "resilient" or "loyal" or anything that might imply "secretly kind".

I looked around online as much as I could but from what I understand names in Chinese cultures are not necessarily chosen or even constructed the same way as in the West. The names that I've found so far (which may or may not fit the criteria above) are: "Yue Zhang" (which I'm told means Moon Archer which is very nice but not necessarily what I'm looking for) and also "Jiang" (which I'm told means River but I just think this is a pretty name and not necessarily fitting for the character).

Any help is GREATLY appreciated! Thank you very much!

EDIT: After a little more research I found some names that I think are wonderful but I'm not sure how to construct them properly. "Yi" and "Shi" and "Ling" may come together in a beautiful way it seems but I'm not sure how (wherein from what I'm seeing, Yi=justice, righteousness; Shi=stone; Ling= clever, intelligent, spiritual). Would this become Yi (surname) Shiling (first name)? Or would it be Yi Shi-ling? Or something else? Thank you again!

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  • My advice would be to think in terms of Chinese characters. Chinese has an incredible number of homophones, and e.g. "yi", "shi", and "ling" all mean many different things depending on the characters they represent. If someone saw the name "Yi Shiling", I doubt they can correctly infer the characters and arrive at the desired meaning (which I think is 义石灵).
    – Becky 李蓓
    Feb 5, 2023 at 4:07
  • Yi is rarely used in a girl's name. You could settle on just Ling Shi if not better name is found.
    – strongline
    Jul 7, 2023 at 12:20
  • I concur with @Becky李蓓. Since it's a novel, it doesn't hurt if the name is explained a little. Also note that 义 here would be a family name so you don't get to choose. The name itself is good. Sep 7, 2023 at 2:01
  • Shi Lingyi or Shi Yiling works as well. 石(Shi) is a more common family name than 义(Yi). Sep 7, 2023 at 2:03

3 Answers 3

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My suggestion is 辛玉梅

辛 - family name, could mean bitterness, difficulties, but also spiciness, sharp

玉 - jade

梅 - plum bloosom, a chinese character symbolizing resilience and persistence.

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I think names around jade, 玉 (yu), fits your description of “loyal”, “resilient”, and “good”. To add “dutiful” to the same, consider 任 (ren), which is part of the combination of the word “duty” and is also a common family name. Therefore, one option for a full name will be 任玉 (Ren Yu).

If she is also pretty, perhaps add 玲 (ling) as the third character. The second option will be 任玉玲 (Ren Yuling).

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  • Beautiful! Thank you very much!
    – M.B.
    Feb 5, 2023 at 23:18
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I would suggest 'Zhōng Líng (钟灵)'.

钟(Zhōng) has the same pronunciation as 中 which represents 中国 (China). It's a perfect surname as your character has connections there. It also has the same pronunciation as 忠 (loyal), which is considered as one of the most important morals Chinese believes. And 忠 usually pairs with 勇 (brave) in Chinese.

灵(Líng), as you already figured out - clever, intelligent, spiritual.

More importantly, it has a very special meaning when you put the two Chinese characters together as 钟灵. Ancient Chinese already used it from time to time. Please have a read by following the link: https://cidian.qianp.com/ci/%E9%92%9F%E7%81%B5

Last but not least, 钟灵 has been chosen to be the name of a really beautiful lady in a very famous Chinese Wuxia novel Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (天龙八部). I would say every Chinese people would know the name as a good, beautiful, and clever lady.

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