The most populated nation is running out of names, according to a recently issued Chinese government report.
A large part of the problem is that according to popular tradition, the Chinese people should only have surnames from a list of 100 names. The official names are rote-learned by schoolchildren. Although the 100 names are not strictly mandatory, only 15 per cent of the population have names not on the list.
One can imagine how quickly things could get confusing with such a huge population, and such a limited list of names.
The surname Wang was listed as #1, narrowly beating out Li. Over 14 per cent of the Chinese have one of the two names, which works out to be about 93 million Wangs and 92 million Lis. That’s a lot of Wangs and Lis to keep track of.
To help stem the rising confusion, the government is now considering lifting restrictions on surnames, which would allow for a greater variety of characters, including some from ethnic minority languages. Presently, the Chinese government mandates that ethnic names be replaced with the closest sounding Chinese surname.
An even more drastic measure being considered is the possibility of allowing babies to be registered with both parents' surnames, which would be a first for the people of mainland China.
Posted by Rebecca Sato
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