May 21st, 2010


Everyday names in various languages

So, I have this fictional, futuristic city that's a real mixture of people from different regions. This has presented a real problem with naming characters, because most of them won't have English names.

What I want to do is build a "bank" of ordinary names that I can draw on when I need to name a supporting character. If I just pull names off of the internet I know I'm asking for weirdness.

The most prevalent groups in this city that I need help with are:

Cantonese, Portuguese, Malay, Filipino, Hakka, Mandarin, Northern Indian (so Hindi and anything else), Vietnamese.

However, it's basically a city of refugees, and the people in it can be from anywhere; it's just that due to its location and history these are the types of names I need most. Other languages are useful as well.

I'm having the most trouble with the Chinese and Chinese-derived names, because those don't work like Western names and I'm leery of trying to create them, given how little I know about the connotations of the various elements.

So, do you have any resources? Any friends or family whose ordinary names I can borrow? (I'll of course mix up given and surnames so I don't actually use someone's full name.) Any additional information about the name--if it has connotations of a particular social class or age, for example--is really helpful. I mean, I don't really want to name an aged math professor the equivalent of "Brandi"...