Hong Kong name

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Personal names in Hong Kong reflect the co-official status of Cantonese and English in Hong Kong. 25.8% of Hongkongers have English given names as part of their legal names; a further 38.3% of Hongkongers go by English given names even though those are not part of their legal names; the two figures add up to a total of 64.1% of Hongkongers having English names, according to a survey of 2049 respondents in 2015.[1]

For example, a person who has Kuo as his surname, Chi Yung as his Cantonese given name and Peter as his legal English given name, would have his name rendered as either "KUO Chi Yung Peter" or "KUO Chi Yung, Peter" (with comma) on court papers,[2] in the format of "Surname + Cantonese given name + optional comma + English given name", though non-court commentaries might render his name as Peter Kuo Chi-yung (with hyphen) or Peter Kuo.[3]


Generally, the Cantonese majority employ one or another romanization of Cantonese.[4] However, non-Cantonese immigrants may retain their hometown spelling in English. For example, use of Shanghainese romanization in names (e.g. Joseph Zen Ze-kiun) is more common in Hong Kong English than in official use in Shanghai where Mandarin-based pinyin has been in official use since the 1950s.[5]

Given name[edit]

Chinese names and sometimes Chinese surnames in Hong Kong may be supplemented by or replaced by an English name when using English. The use of English names in Hong Kong is not well researched or documented.[6] English names in Hong Kong can use various proper names and nouns that are not often found in the Western world, with some examples being Rimsky Yuen, York Chow, and Moses Chan. Inspiration for English names in Hong Kong can come from the names of months, sports brands, and luxury labels. More conventional English names can undergo distortion by the adding, substitution, or deletion of letters (e.g. Sonija, Garbie, Kith), as well using suffixes like -son (e.g. Rayson). Others adopt a Western name that sounds similar phonetically to their Chinese name, such as Hacken Lee from Lee Hak-kan (李克勤).[7] These categories (addition, substitution, phonetic-based, etc.) are the fundamental ways of generating creative Hong Kong names.[8]

Maiden name[edit]

In case a married person uses the spouse's surname, the maiden name is usually placed after that surname. For instance, the 4th Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor[9] has Carrie and Yuet-ngor as the English and Cantonese personal names respectively, Cheng as the maiden name, and Lam from the surname of her husband Lam Siu-por. In the Anglo-Saxon world, married women are sometimes referred by "first name + married name" style, which is Carrie Lam in the example above,[10] while locally as "married name + maiden name + personal name" style.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bacon-Shone, John; Bolton, Kingsley; Luke, Kang Kwong (2015). Language use, proficiency and attitudes in Hong Kong (PDF). Hong Kong: Social Sciences Research Centre, The University of Hong Kong. p. 29.
  2. ^ Dataprep (HK) Ltd v. KUO Chi Yung Peter [1974], Hong Kong Law Reports 383.
  3. ^ "Transfers from the Labour Tribunal and Procedural Problems in the Supreme Court - Dataprep (H.K.) Ltd. v. Peter Kuo Chi-yung". Hong Kong Law Journal. 5. 1975.
  4. ^ Caroline Courtauld, May Holdsworth, Simon Vickers The Hong Kong story -1997 Page xi "A Note on the Romanization of Chinese Names The majority of Chinese personal names in Hong Kong are romanized according to their Cantonese pronunciation; a small number are rendered differently. In all cases we have retained the ..."
  5. ^ Wong, Linda; White (III), Lynn T.; Gui, Shixun (2004). Social Policy Reform in Hong Kong and Shanghai: A Tale of Two Cities. M.E. Sharpe. p. xii. ISBN 978-0-7656-1311-0. Such well-known Hong Kong names as Shaw in the movie industry, Pao and Tung in shipping, Woo and Tang in textiles all demonstrate the leading roles played by Shanghai business emigres in the Hong Kong economic success story
  6. ^ Meeting Handbook - Page 75 Linguistic Society of America - 2000 "Bjorn H. Jernudd (Hong Kong Baptist University) (Session 34) 'English' personal names in Hong Kong Little if anything is systematically known about names other than Chinese-language names among Chinese-speaking populations."
  7. ^ Man, Joyce (2012-10-01). "Hong Kong Loves Weird English Names". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
  8. ^ "NOTABLE NAMES (Brilliant Funny Weird Monikers)". hksarblog.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  9. ^ "Chief Executive Election result (with photos/video)". www.info.gov.hk. Retrieved 2021-10-11.
  10. ^ "Carrie Lam: The controversial leader of Hong Kong". BBC News. 2020-09-28. Retrieved 2021-10-11.
  11. ^ "香港特首林鄭月娥因美國制裁家藏現金 中資銀行為何「愛莫能助」" [Hong Kong CE Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor stored cash at home after American sanctions; and why Chinese banks couldn't help]. BBC News (in Traditional Chinese). Retrieved 2021-10-11.