What’s in a name? Frustration for the Chinese!

Shanghai, September 14 :

Here’s to you, Chen Jie. And you, and you, and you. The name — surname Chen, given name Jie — is shared by almost 4,000 Shanghainese, topping the list of the city’s most common monikers, according to official figures released today.

That’s become a problem for many with the name, playing havoc with school enrollments, residency registration, bank accounts, mail delivery and health insurance.

“Names are a civil right, and formerly were just a way of calling people, but overlapping names have now become a serious social problem in China,” the Youth Daily newspaper said in a commentary.

Authorities have implored parents to choose less common names, but insist that names be drawn only from a list of standard Chinese characters.Following the 3,937 people named Chen Jie, the 3,751 named Zhang Min make up the second largest group of identically named Shanghainese. Many Chinese characters are homonyms — having the same sounds but different meanings — “Jie” is especially popular due to its connotations of purity or cleanliness. “Min” also reflects positive attributes, most often linked with sensitivity or nimbleness. Purely in terms of surnames, Zhang comes out on top among Shanghainese, with almost 900,000 occurrences, according to data.