Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

My last name in Chinese spelling is Fang, but I find that it has a bad meaning as an English word. I tried to change it to Feng, but since they are not quite distinguishable on the pronunciation, it still may remind people of that meaning...

I was wondering whether you could help me look for a "name" that is related to Fang, but does not have a too similar pronunciation. ("Fang" means square in Chinese.)

Thank you in advance.

share|improve this question

closed as off topic by Mahnax, Jasper Loy, Mitch, MrHen, simchona Apr 8 '12 at 16:36

Questions on English Language & Usage Stack Exchange are expected to relate to English language and usage within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

4  
I would not worry too much about a "bad meaning." It is a proper noun; people named Green or Butcher do not suffer from others thinking they are discolored or that they work in slaughterhouses. There are many people who go by Fang or Feng and there is no bad luck associated with it. Indeed if anything, fang could invoke an image of the strength of a wild predator. But in any case the Cantonese romanization of 方 is Fong, which does not sound at all like and has no meaning in English. If you do not mind people assuming you are a southerner, that may be an alternative. –  choster Apr 8 '12 at 16:14
    
As much fun as it is, helping look for good names is pretty off topic here. I'm sure there is a website somewhere that would be better at helping you there. –  Mitch Apr 8 '12 at 16:28
5  
In English, "Fang" and "Feng" are quite distinguishable; it's only to foreigners that the sound the same. –  Peter Shor Apr 8 '12 at 17:48

1 Answer 1

The English word with the bad meaning is fang, pronounced /fæŋ/. It means a long cuspid tooth, like wolves and tigers have.

Most Americans would pronounce any Chinese name presented to them spelled "Fang" as /faŋ/, and not as /fæŋ/. (There is no English word pronounced /faŋ/)

Moreover, about half of Americans cannot distinguish /a/ from /ɔ/, so they are likely to say "Fang" as /fɔŋ/, as if it were spelled "Fong". (There is no English word pronounced /fɔŋ/, either)

Consequently, if you were to change the English spelling of your name to "Fong", the chances are that Americans, at least, could come close to pronouncing it in a way you could recognize, and nobody would connect it with wolves' canine teeth.

... though I agree with choster that such a drastic step is unlikely to be necessary.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.