Sunday 8 November 2009

0287 HKSAR Name of the Day

NiQ Lai, Corporate development director, City Telecom, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation


  1. NiQ is an acquaintance of mine. It's a reasonable "English" abbreviation so that people don't have to struggle to pronounce his full name, which according to his business card is Ni Quiaque Lai

  2. Thanks Smog’s Blog. Perhaps “reasonable” here is subjective and a matter of opinion? Why not abbreviate to “Nick” or if the “Q” is considered necessary why not “Nique”, to reduce problems with pronunciation and with standard spelling? Or is the name pronounced “Nee-cue”?

    Anyways, what this example demonstrates, along with every other HKSAR Name of the Day, is the propensity for local Hong Kong Chinese to gravitate towards Novel Names. The question is: “Why?”
    Is this social phenomenon observed with similar regularity in Singaporean Chinese, Taiwanese Chinese or mainland Chinese? If not, then why?

  3. It's easy to pick the odd ones, but you have to look at a bigger sample. For example, to take the office I used to work in and whose phone list I happen to have to hand: there were 28 local Chinese.
    Normal names (if slightly obscure or out of fashion in a couple of cases) (21): Alan, Ambrose, Amelia, Chris, Dennis, Derek, Eliza, Geri, Isabella, Leo, Merryn, Michael, Peter, Rebecca, Ruby, Sharon, Stephen, Tony, Vicky, Will & Virginia
    Use their Chinese names (2): Chun, Su-Ching
    Others (5): Asuka, Kabby, Ricco, Thompson, Vito

    Of which:
    Asuka is a valid Japanese female name;
    Ricco is unusual, but not unique except perhaps that this one is female;
    Thompson is more often a surname, but by no means unique as a first name;
    Vito is not uncommon in Latin countries (see The Godfather, Sopranos, etc).

    So the only, as far as I can tell, totally made up name is Kabby. One out of twenty-eight, and since I don't know her Chinese name it may simply be an approximate transliteration of that.

  4. Sorry Smog, I forgot to reply to your comment. In your office sample of 28 local Chinese, One (i.e. 3.6%) had a made-up name, and five (17.9%) had “uncommon” names in context with native English environments.

    I agree with you that the bigger the sample there is, the better. In my explanation of Novel Names in Hong Kong (, I mention a preliminary analysis reveals 2.5% of Hong Kong solicitors (i.e. 143 out of 5,707) have novel names.

    Over time, the number of Novel Names will accumulate on this blog. Perhaps further down the road, the truly made-up unique names can be further sub-divided from the uncommon or unusual names? However, the initial purpose is to show that Hong Kong Chinese, compared with other Chinese populations, appear to have a penchant for novel names. Is this the case?