Onomastics in Interaction With Other Branches of Science. Volume 2.

The Chinese Horoscope and Personal Naming

Irena Kałużyńska
Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Warsaw, Poland


The Chinese culture and tradition includes the belief that a person’s constitution and fate are predetermined by the person’s Eight Characters indicating the year, month, day and hour of a person’s birth, with each pair consisting of two appropriate cyclical signs drawn from two sets: Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches. The Eight Characters are also connected with the 12 symbolic Chinese Zodiac animals and the Five Elements of the universe, i.e. Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. Therefore, giving the appropriate name to a person can secure that person’s favourable constitution and fate.
The method of forming Chinese given names discussed here is based on the 12 symbolic animals of the Chinese Zodiac. The symbolic animals are: the Rat, the Ox, the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Goat, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog and the Pig. This method of naming combines information about the named person’s birth with references to the specific features of the symbolic animal in order to influence the person’s horoscope.
Additional discussion deals with some language strategies adapted by the above-mentioned method to specifically name people born in the Year of the Rat. The method considers the lexical meaning of names and their formal aspects, such as forms of Chinese characters and the meaning of individual graphical elements that make up the Chinese characters used to write the name.

Chinese personal naming, Chinese given names, Chinese horoscope, Chinese Zodiac, Chinese Zodiac animals and name-giving

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