It has been a tradition for officials from Britain to make a Cantonese name for themselves, as they wanted to blend into the Hong Kong society and make Hong Kongers feels they respect our language and us.
Recently, we heard that our friend Mr. Luke de Pulford, who has been supporting freedom and democracy movement in Hong Kong, is looking for a Cantonese name.
In this article, we will study and find the pattern of how British officials make their Cantonese name, and suggest some Cantonese names for Mr. Luke de Pulford that sound Hong Kong and meaningful.
Based on the enquiry Apple Daily made with British Consulate-General in Hong Kong, these are the guidelines they follow when they need to make a Cantonese name for British officials.
- Make the Cantonese name based on the pronunciation of the name of that official.
- Make a 3 characters Cantonese name (2 characters Cantonese name is not common in Hong Kong).
- If the last name of that official is enough to make a 3 characters Cantonese name, ignore the pronunciation of its first name.
- Choose a common Cantonese surname.
- Use meaningful characters for the first name.
It is very easy to find some fancy characters in the dictionary, but the hard part is the phonetic. You need to know IPA for this part.
In order to study how British officials actually made their name, we have chosen some British officials which we Hong Kongers familiar and listed them below.
|English Name||Cantonese Name||English name pronunciation in IPA||Cantonese name pronunciation in IPA|
|Crawford Murray MacLehose||麥理浩||k r ɔ: f ə d |
m ʌ r ɪ
m ə k l h əʊ z
|mɐk6 lei5 hou6|
|Chris Patten||彭定康||k r ɪ s |
p æ t ə n
|pʰaŋ4 tɪŋ6 hɔŋ1|
|David Wilson||衛奕信||d eɪ v ɪ d w ɪ l s n||wɐi6 jɪk6 sɵn3|
|Margaret Thatcher||戴卓爾||m ɑ: g r ɪ t |
θ æ t ʃ ə
|tai3 tsʰœk3 ji5|
|Theresa May||文翠珊||ð ə r i: z ə |
|mɐn4 tsʰɵy3 san1|
|Luke de Pulford||???||l u: k d ə p j l f ə d||???|
With this table, we can see that Crawford Murray MacLehose, Christ Patten and David Wilson make their Cantonese name using the pronunciation of their last name as a reference.
A reasonable guess for how they did this is they use vowels and consonants in their last name that exist in both English and Cantonese as a key to search for meaningful Cantonese characters.
For example, for the pronunciation of Christ Pattern’s last name, “Patten”, only consonants p, t and n exists in Cantonese, and these consonants are kept in his Cantonese name (except consonant n).
For tone pattern, only Crawford Murray MacLehose and Chris Patten’s Cantonese names follow the most common tone pattern for naming, level-oblique-level（平-仄-平）; the tone pattern for the rest are in oblique-oblique-oblique（仄-仄-仄）.
By the way, I have no clue how did Margaret Thatcher get her Cantonese name.
Based on the all the guidelines and patterns we found above, we will use the pronunciation of Mr. Luke de Pulford’s last name to make his Cantonese name.
For the pronunciation of his last name, “Pulford”, consonant d and vowel ə do not exist in Cantonese phonology.
The remaining consonants in Mr. Luke de Pulford’s last name, can be translated from IPA to jyutping as the following:
|Consonants in IPA||Consonants in Jyutping|
With that, we can start building a Cantonese name. For the Cantonese surname, I cannot think of any common surname that starts with consonants b.
Using surname that starts with consonant p (in Jyutping not IPA) is a good alternative, as it is very similar with consonants b.
Therefore, we would suggest Mr. Luke de Pulford to use 潘 [pun1] as its surname in Cantonese, which is a very common surname.
Now we can use the remaining consonants to search for characters as his name.
We have picked two names that we think sounds great for Mr. Luke de Pulford.
pun1 fok3 dak1
德 [dak1] means virtues. This name is meaningful and follows the most common tone pattern for name, level-oblique-level（平-仄-平）.
pun1 fuk1 dak1
福 [fuk1] means blessing. One drawback of this name is it sounds “too loud” for its tone pattern, level-level-level（平-平-平）.
That’s it for this article on how to make a good Cantonese name with the British way!