English names are becoming increasing popular in China. New parents are moving towards more Western-sounding monikers in the hope that it will further their child’s opportunities should they wish to apply to schools abroad.
However, due to internet censorship, little domestic exposure to Western culture and a radically different approach to choosing names, many babies are being given ones such as Cinderella, Candy and Dumbledore.
An $85,000 business idea
That’s where British highschooler Beau Jessup steps in. When last in Beijing, the 16-year-old was repeatedly approached to help offer name suggestions to new parents and later set up a website to be able to continue doing that from home.
“I heard lots of examples where people had chosen culturally inappropriate English names they'd heard from films or read online and realised there was an opportunity to help Chinese people get it right from the start,” Beau tells the Telegraph.
Much emphasis is placed on the meaning behind given names in Chinese culture, and parents often choose names that reflect their wishes, vision or values for that child.
That’s where a lot of the confusion lies when picking an English name and why Beau provides a number of options along with their meanings on her website so parents can match their choice to what resonates best with them.
She claims to have already made close to AU$85,000 (or £48,000) from the service.
The idea isn't all that new
It has long been common for young Chinese students to give themselves a Western name while studying English or looking for employment at an English-speaking company.
Many opt to do this to make the pronunciation of their name easier for a foreign employer or to write it in English characters on application forms.
China based American expat Lindsay Jernigan, set up a similar online name selecting service to Beau’s last year, and a number of Chinese platforms also aim to advise young people and parents.
While Jessup says, she's not really "relevant enough" in a baby's life to decide on its name, she's happy to be involved in her own little way. "It's nice to be a part of such a happy experience and be a part of those young stages in a baby's life."