As I'm writing this, a question has been asked on the Main site, "I chose 拳拳 as my chinese name, what does it mean?".

At first, I was thinking of voting to close because it seemed as "too localized", then as "not constructive" because it seemed to ask more for opinions than facts. Since I was unsure, I asked other Mods for some opinions and they agreed that the question seems to be ok and gave me some good suggestions, but still, I thought that this matter poses a problem.

So I thought we would discuss here, not about that question, but rather about the policy this site should have towards questions asking for name meanings/chinese names.

My opinion is to accept them as long as some standards are met:

  1. The question doesn't ask for a personal point of view, but rather what the characters mean to any native speaker, for example.
    This way, the number of possible answers reduce to a definite, small quantity;

  2. They aren't requests for chinese names like "My name is X, what's the best chinese name for me?", since this is not constructive, because every user can, ideally, propose an alternative name;

Honestly I don't have other standards to propose in mind, so if you have something to say, this is the best place.


3 Answers 3


I think this question is clumsily worded, but valid. I would reword the question to something like this:

What are the connotations of the word 拳拳? The literal meaning, according to a dictionary, is something like honest or sincere. Does it look natural as someone's name? If someone uses it as their nickname, what does it evoke about them?

(I'm not going to edit while the debate is going on, especially since I don't speak a word of Chinese — but I'm a moderator on another language site).

The question is about a Chinese word, so on-topic. It isn't “too localized”: asking about the meaning of a specific word or phrase is perfectly appropriate on a language site. There is a real, specific question here, which is the meaning of a word in a well-defined context. Finally, the question is not particularly subjective: a good answer would discuss all plausible connotations (and not just the answerer's opinion).

  • 1
    @Giles - Your question above looks on-topic because you've padded a bad quality question with good one. As mentioned in my answer above, not all "What is the meaning of X" are on topic. The crux of the question is still "Is X a good name". Both "does it look natural" and "What does it evoke" are subjective and should be off topic. This question could generate 1mil. similar ones, the answer to all of them can be answered in a single question like "What rules should I follow when choosing a Chinese name?"
    – going
    Jan 11, 2012 at 0:15
  • The question has been fixed and reopened. :)
    – Alenanno
    Nov 19, 2012 at 17:17

My personal opinion is that the question is still too broad. We shouldn't allow questions like "What does 熊猫" mean unless whatever X is is something vague or unusual and can't be found easily on the web.

If it was a question like "What should be taken in to consideration when choosing a Chinese name" this should cover most cases.

I don't see a large difference between "Give me a good Chinese name" and "I picked this name, does it sound good". It is quite subjective as to whether a name sounds good.

Also this person says they picked it from a dictionary based on the meaning and then asks "what does it mean", but the real question is "does it sound cool?".

I am voting to close as the question is subjective.

  • The question about "What should be taken in to consideration when choosing a Chinese name" has already been asked by me here: "How do we choose the correct characters for a westerner name?". Thanks for the insight and for posting... I'd also like to hear other opinions anyway, so I know what's the community consensus. :)
    – Alenanno
    Jan 10, 2012 at 22:50

I agree that questions on names can easily elicit subjective answers. In the case of Petruza's question it could be rewritten to try and encourage less subjective answers, e.g.:

  • Can these characters be used as a name or would natives not recognize this character combination as a name?

  • In the context of a name, is the combination of these two characters still recognized as meaning "earnest" or would people read it a doubling of the word "fist"?

Of course even then native speakers may differ in their opinions, meaning that answers may still be rather subjective (if there is indeed no consensus among native speakers).

Furthermore, questions will have to conform to whatever rules will be set for the site once it moves out of the beta stage and that will likely mean that such questions will be excluded as being too localized as the answers are really only of use to the OP.

So perhaps the real question should be as to what amount of localization this site will allow in the future. If all questions have to be of use to the community as a whole then questions pertaining to individual names should be excluded.

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