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Chinese State Media Warns People To Stop Calling Themselves Dumbledore

Updated: The original CCTV article this post cites was from a legitimate CCTV-controlled website. In an earlier version we said otherwise.

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This week CCTV News, the state-run broadcaster, came up with these tips for any Chinese people considering an English name – one of which is to steer clear of "Dumbledore".

It's common for Chinese people to choose an English name, partly to make conversation with non-Chinese speakers easier. Many Chinese students in western colleges go by an English name, for example.But as CCTV points out, some people are choosing names that might sound odd to English speakers. The article says: "While native English speakers are stuck with whatever happy or unhappy names they’ve been given, Chinese and other ‘non-natives’ get the lucky choice of picking their own English name."However these choices can mean more than you think!"
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It's common for Chinese people to choose an English name, partly to make conversation with non-Chinese speakers easier. Many Chinese students in western colleges go by an English name, for example.

But as CCTV points out, some people are choosing names that might sound odd to English speakers.

The article says: "While native English speakers are stuck with whatever happy or unhappy names they’ve been given, Chinese and other ‘non-natives’ get the lucky choice of picking their own English name.

"However these choices can mean more than you think!"

Religious, mythical, and fictional characters such as Vampire, Satan, Medusa, and Edward Cullen are a no-no.

"Unique names like these aren’t just very amusing to English speakers, it also suggests you have some connection to that name," the article warns."So if you call yourself Satan, you might get a few foreigners thinking you’re anti-Christian, or possibly a member of a heavy metal band."CCTV says Harry is OK, if you're a Harry Potter fan, but only because it was a common name to start with.
Getty Images/iStockphoto Hlib Shabashnyi

"Unique names like these aren’t just very amusing to English speakers, it also suggests you have some connection to that name," the article warns.

"So if you call yourself Satan, you might get a few foreigners thinking you’re anti-Christian, or possibly a member of a heavy metal band."

CCTV says Harry is OK, if you're a Harry Potter fan, but only because it was a common name to start with.

Also on the "no" list are common everyday words that aren't used as names in English, such as Lawyer.

Other examples include Surprise, Dragon, and Fish – things that might be related to the characters in someone's Chinese name."Sure, have fun and pick a random object or word as a name, but avoid them if you want a call back from that serious law firm in America." CCTV says.
Getty Images/iStockphoto IuriiSokolov

Other examples include Surprise, Dragon, and Fish – things that might be related to the characters in someone's Chinese name.

"Sure, have fun and pick a random object or word as a name, but avoid them if you want a call back from that serious law firm in America." CCTV says.

A good way to work out the 'feeling' of a name is to watch a bunch of American movies and sitcoms. They're full of name stereotypes – you'll find the good girls' are all 'Janes', the jock boys are still 'Buds' and the geeks are called 'Sheldon'.

The original article about Chinese people choosing unusual English names came from a site operated and controlled by CCTV. An earlier update to this post said it was from a fake site posing as an official CCTV property.

DJ Clark, a freelance journalist who works for CCTV in Beijing, contacted us to confirm that the article was written by a CCTV journalist as a "lighthearted" piece, designed to be shared to a Western audience.

The website where it appeared, cctvnews.cn, was taken down after the article was published and it remains offline.

Clark said the site will reappear soon when it obtains the relevant licence from the Chinese government.