Invite a Brother

Here’s another story from Changing Every Day. When you finish reading, take the quiz to test your understanding!:

Naming

Sarah Sito

Many people believe that a person’s name has an important influence on their life. To Chinese people, it is very essential to name and combine the name with the hour of birth to be more balanced. There are also some names that are full of the background of an era.

I remember that my friend who was studying Cantonese called me. She was watching a drama at that time that was set in the past. The actress’s character’s name was Zhao Di, which means “invite a brother.” My friend felt that she couldn’t understand this and asked me, “Is it a common name or just for fun?” It didn’t feel strange to me at that time because a lot of old women in Guangdong have names with Di. Di means “her/his brother.” It expresses hope that the next child will be a boy. There are some girls that are named Ting too. That means “stop birthing daughters.”

My grandma’s given name was Yu Di, which means “meeting brother.” But her family name was Wu. In Cantonese, “Wu” and “no” are pronounced the same. When my grandma’s whole name was said, the meaning was “Can’t meet brother.” If they really wanted a boy, why did they only focus on the first name and not combine it with the family name? I really want to question them if I can.

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To read more stories from Changing Every Day, click here.

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One thought on “Invite a Brother

  1. betty says:

    In Chinese culture, how important a person’s name, It is not only a symbol, but also affect a person’s life. “Zhao Di” this name is very common in rural china because the Chinese preference for boys over the years, hoping a boy procreation and making family line.

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