Cal Poly Pomona

Cantonese Names

Chinese, strictly speaking, does not have any basic vowel sounds. The tone range is too wide to define. It is not like the ones of Mandarin. The pronunciation can vary a lot with the tone range from high to low; in fact, even the same words can have different meanings with different pronunciations. It is really a big task to learn and know Cantonese well.

Chinese names are made up mostly with three characters. It is not very common to have two characters in a Chinese name. However, one can easily see a Chinese name made up with two characters in Mainland China regions or in Taiwan.

Interesting tips

In Chinese culture, there are five most common last names: Chan, Lee, Cheung, Wong, and Ho.One has to be especially careful in pronouncing the last names. Each character has only one syllable instead of two. Yes, it is harder to pronounce correctly. Since it is not like the Mandarin tone that one can easily catch the pronunciation.

For example: Leung one should just pronounce in one tone with slightly upper sound. It is a mistake to pronounce as "Lee-un." Same cases with "Cheung", and "Yeung."As for some usual first and middle name, there are unlimited combinations of mixing the first name with the middle name. For example: Mei-Wah, one can switch it to "Wah-Mei" too. Or there may be Mei-Yee, Shuk-Yee, Wing-Yan, Yan-Yan, and so on.

First Names
Cantonese
Last Names
Cantonese
chee-kahng
Au
ngahoo
chee-mahn
chan
gah-leeng
chehung (light g)
kaw-wing
fahng
ly-ying
Ho
haw
may-yee
Hui
hahyoo
puhyee-pahyee
Koo
goo
sow-han
Lai
ly
suh-yee
Lam
lam
sin-fuhng
Lau
lau
seeyoo-kayoo
Lee
lee
duh-wah
leuhng (light g)
wy-kuhung
Mok
mau
wy-ling
Ng
mg
poo-in
Sin
see-in
sohng
Tam
tam
Tang June 22, 2005
duhng (light g)
Tse
tseh
Wong wong (light g)
Yeung yuhung (light g)
Yip yihp

You can learn more about Chinese names at Wikipedia.

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updated October 11, 2004