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Chinese Generation Names


Many Chinese surname lineage groups adopted the convention of a generation name to distinguish members of succeeding generations. There would be many local variations. Typically, a family would create or adopt a poem. Each person (typically males only) would be given a name consisting of the surname (usually one character, but sometimes more than one), a character from the poem, the generation name(each succeeding generation would take the next character in sequence), and another character as the given name. In some families it was the custom to register the given name at the time of (first) marriage. This would be done at the ancestral hall for the lineage group. This would then ensure that within this lineage group, the man would have a unique marriage name fixed at the proper level of descent from the common ancestor of this lineage.

Thus two men, upon being introduced, would immediately know whether they were cousins of the same generation, or which one would be addressed as "uncle", being of a senior generation. Note that under the marriage name concept, a child would be given a different name at birth. These would typically also consist of a pair of names to go with the surname. To avoid confusion, a character from the generation name poem would not be included. Often the name would be selected by the old member of the extended family. One of the pair of names would be common to all of that generation in mimic of the generation name. Often there would be a different character for males than for females. Sometimes both males and females would have the same common character. Naturally, within the family, individuals would be addressed by the unique character. Note that while girls are given names within their birth families, traditional Chinese genealogies normally only designated them by their surname of origin.

The Generation Poem of the Look Wai 綠圍 House, Eng Suey Sun[伍胥山], Taishan, Guangdong

The Generation Poem of the Hon Yuen 翰苑 House, Eng Suey Sun[伍胥山], Taishan, Guangdong

Generation[世] Poem of the MOY[梅] Family[氏] of Guangdong

possible Generation[世] Poem of the Kwei[桂] Family[氏] of Guangdong

possible Generation[世] Poem of a Chang[張] Family[氏] of Nanjing

Generation Name Poem of the Kwan [關 ] Family of Kaiping, Guangdong

Generation Name Poem of the the descendants of Huang[黃 ] Qiaoshan in the four provinces of Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangxi and Zhejiang


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