Today’s Name of the Day is more of a curiosity than a moniker we’d actually suggest bestowing on your baby-to-be. But he’s ever so timely, and so we couldn’t resist talking about Aoyun.
If you’ve caught Olympic fever, you’re not alone. And we’ll admit it – we watch the games with an eye for the names of foreign athletes.
It turns out that the event itself has inspired some baby names in China. According to the BBC, more than 4,000 babies have been called Aoyun – the Chinese for Olympic Games. The pronunciation is widely given as owl yoon; we’re not certain about emphasis.
It’s no secret that a lot of babies are born in China and every last one of them needs a name. We’ve dug up some other interesting factoids about Chinese naming practices:
- Children are rarely named after historical figures or ancestors, and being named after a parent is even less common;
- Traditionally, some families adopted a generation name – usually a single character that every sibling and cousin would wear. It seems like the rough equivalent of giving all your kids names that start with J. We’re not clear what’s happening to this custom as the one-child policy means that fewer and fewer families have siblings and cousins to make up a generation;
- Speaking of sharing, the Chinese share a very small number of surnames. About 40% of all Chinese share one of the Top Ten names; tally up the Top 45 surnames and well over 70% of all Chinese people are included. Odds that a child will share a name with someone else; for example, there are well over 5,000 Yao Mings – but only one playing for the Houston Rockets.
- Little wonder that there’s a strong drive for individuality with given names! For Chinese parents, this can mean using less common characters, numbers and symbols and even letters borrowed from other alphabets. The @ sign – pronounced Aita, which translates to “love him” is one such innovation.
- While professionals from Japan and other Eastern nations have long adopted Western names for business purposes, some parents are now simply bestowing these names on their children – Jenny, Lina and Lucy have all been registered in China.
- Coming full circle back to Aoyun, adopting a phrase has long been one way to distinguish a child from his peers. You’ll meet kids called Civilization, Space Travel and now, Olympic Games. Kinda puts those wacky Puritans to shame, doesn’t it?
- The Beijing Games’ official mascots are the Five Friendlies – Bei Bei, Jing Jing, Huan Huan, Ying Ying and Ni Ni. In an addition to the 4,000 plus Aoyuns, another 4,000 or so children have received the name of one of the mascots.
More than 90% of the Aoyuns are boys. No word on whether the Friendlies are shared by girls and boys in equal numbers or not.
While it is tough to see Aoyun wearing well on a boy in the US, it’s worth noting that the feminine moniker Olympia has been bestowed on daughters over the years – it’s charted in the Top 1000 five times between 1913 and 1925, and we know an Olympia born circa 1967.
The games next come to Vancouver in 2010 and London in 2012, so there could be a bunch of Olympias born north of here and across the ocean. Sochi is 2014 – wonder how you say Olympic Games in Russian?