Novel Names in Hong Hong

January 26, 2009

Hong Kong Chinese have a high proportion of novel English first names that are, to say the least, creative and even daring. For example, my preliminary analysis reveals 2.5% of Hong Kong solicitors (i.e. 143 out of 5,707) have novel names.

Novel here is defined as uncommon, unusual or unique. Over the years, I have collected many notable novel names (which is why this blog will feature a regular “HKSAR Name of the Day” post).

Possessing a novel name is a phenomenon that is observed most frequently amongst Hong Kong Chinese, whereas it is relatively less common to spot a novel name amongst mainland Chinese, Singapore Chinese and Taiwanese. What is it about the psyche of Hong Kong Chinese that compels them to create and retain odd-sounding novel names? From my understanding, when a population or society is unaware of name rules or memes then, depending on how the relevant society regards the values of “creativity” and “conformity”, there will be individuals who will adopt rare, uncommon names (e.g. Adolf) and perhaps even create their own novel names (e.g. Alnwick). Dare I ask whether expressions of creativity and free thought are relatively more common in Hong Kong? There are other possible reasons (e.g. mainland Chinese are latecomers in adopting English first names, Singaporeans have a relatively better grasp of traditional English, etc), and I’d be interested to hear people’s thoughts on this (e.g. Elmer’sLifeinHK). In the meantime, I hope this blog’s “HKSAR Name of the Day” feature will bring some enjoyment and perhaps curiosity to readers.

Other people’s thoughts on novel names:

Shanghai Surprise