Would you let a 16-year-old girl name your baby?
That’s just what 200,000 Chinese families have done. They paid British teenager Beau Jessup to help them choose a culturally appropriate name for their newborn.
The 16-year-old student, at the exclusive Cheltenham Ladies College in Gloucestershire, has earned more than $84,000 (AUD) since her baby naming service specialname.cn began six months ago.
She told Gloucestershire Live that while all Chinese babies are given a traditional Chinese name at birth, which is written in Chinese characters, there is now a massive demand for Chinese to also adopt an additional English name.
School students, teenagers and business people all use them for ease and for use on email and study in the west.
Even businesses often have a space on forms for “Chinese name” and “English name”.
These names were traditionally chosen at school by an English teacher or by kids themselves but as evidenced by the plethora of “Cherries”, “Cinderellas” and “Apples” out there, many Chinese have yearned for a better option.
Enter Beau Jessup.
The teenager told The Telegraph that she came up with the idea during a family visit to China when a friend of her parents asked her to suggest an English name for their newborn baby.
Beau said she decided to set up the website after hearing some of the “embarrassing” English names like Rolex, Gandalf and Pizza.
“When I went to China I kept being asked to name babies for my parents’ friends. They explained an English name is vital because you can’t use a Chinese name on email or a university application to the UK. Your English name stays with you for life.
“But I also heard lots of examples where people had chosen culturally inappropriate English names they’d heard from films or read online and realised there was an opportunity to help Chinese people get it right from the start.”
According to Quora, in a post that went viral on social media, the Chinese are notorious for picking somewhat socially awkward English names.