Zhēn Xuě Qīng is my Chinese name, given to me by my uncle on my mother’s side. Zhēn is my family name, and Xuě Qīng is my given name. Zhēn is a stand-alone surname with no particular meaning, originated from the Taishan dialect on my father’s side of the family. Xuě means “snow,” and Qīng means “clean” and “purity.” This meaning is particularly special for me because on the day of my birth, it was snowing. It may not seem strange, except I was born near the end of October, and for one day there was snow, but then there was none to be had for the weeks following. My uncle, at the time of my birth, was looking out the window when my mother called him for a name. He was watching the snow fall when he named me, and in turn, I ended up inadvertently naming his daughter (my cousin, whom I occasionally speak of).
Although I am primarily versed in Cantonese, I decided to have my name in pinyin (Mandarin) to better take advantage of the beautiful sounds and initials. In Cantonese, the translation into English would not include the “Z,” “X” or “Q” letters. I think that there is a beauty and distinctiveness to the Mandarin dialect that allows the consonants and vowels to flow more smoothly and musically than Cantonese. Unfortunately, my Mandarin is not elegant or fluent, but it is China’s official language and the language of the people.
I hope that this change in my pen name will last longer than a day’s snow fall. I do not expect it to be a never-ending fluttering of ice crystals, only that it endures just as constantly as snow returns every year.
Snowdrop | Hope