What's not on the list?
As off-beat and unusual as some of the names on our list may strike you, what's even more remarkable is the names that aren't on the list. As we've said, America's melting pot of cultures is reflected on the Social Security Administration's list of the 1000 most popular names in the last millennium. But even though 12.5 million Asians and Pacific Islanders live in the United States, there are very few Asian names on the list. Perhaps that's thanks to a tradition that many Asian-American families seem to follow of using two sets of names: An English name for official documents like Social Security cards, and an Asian name to be used among family, or simply to appease distant relatives (see the "Two sets of names" sidebar in chapter 4 for more on this).

"As far as I know, if the kids are born here, parents will give them English names and maybe Chinese names as middle names or unofficial Chinese names," says Maiheng Dietrich, a professor of foreign languages at the University of Pennsylvania. "That's what I did with my kids." For their three children, she and her husband chose the English names that they liked best—Rebeca, Jacob, and Jonathan. But Maiheng let her parents choose the Chinese names—Di, Li, and Ting, respectively. "I think that's what most Chinese people did and are still doing," she says.

As parents rediscover traditional names and even borrow from other cultures, the pendulum may just swing back in favor of using Asian names. At the very least, readers of this book may want to choose an Asian name as a middle name or "unofficial" second name, but still make sure that it sounds good with their surname. For that reason, we consulted several speakers of Asian languages to find some Chinese, Japanese, and East Indian names to add to the phonetic lists in this book. (Chinese names are similar to Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese names, but what we provide here is just a sample. The Internet can be a great resource for names from any cultural background, so check out the "Online Resources" list for more information.)

Bear in mind that every culture has different naming traditions which might take into account the meaning of a name or the number of brushstrokes in it's written component, both of which are beyond the scope of this book. For instance, in India's caste system, certain names are reserved for different classes, though that distinction may be less important for American parents.

    Although the meanings of names are important in Asian cultures, so are phonetics and the way that a first name sounds with a surname. Japanese girls' names used to routinely end in the suffix "-ko," but parents are now straying from that old-fashioned formula in favor of names with "-i" or "-a" endings, like Emi, Kaori, and Yuka. When Yoriko Mikesell was choosing Japanese middle names for her daughters, she consciously avoided names with "ko" endings, preferring Natsumi and Moe. Remember also that we include foreign pronunciations of names that are used in other cultures, not just names that originated there. For instance, Naomi is a Hebrew name pronounced nay-YOH-mee, but according to Hiroko K. Sherry, a languages lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, Naomi is a popular name in Japan these days, where it is pronounced NAW-oh-mee.

Here, then, are a few suggestions of Asian names:
Chinese Girls:
Feng (FAWNG <CH>)
Gui (guh-WAY <CH>)
Hong (HUNG <CH>)
Hua (huh-WAH <CH>)
Lei (LAY <CH>)
Ling (LEENG <CH>)
Mei (MAY <CH>)
Ming (MING <CH>)
Ping (PING <CH>)
Shan (SHAWN <CH>)
Wei (WAY <CH>)
Xia (hee-YAW <CH>)
Xiu (HEE-yoo <CH>)
Zhen (JEN <CH>)
Zhi (JUR <CH>)
Chinese Boys:
Cheng (CHUNG <CH>)
De (DUR <CH>)
Fu (FOO <CH>)
Gui (guh-WAY <CH>)
Hong (HUNG <CH>)
Jun (JOO-in <CH>)
Lok (LAWK <CH>)
Long (LUNG <CH>)
Ming (MING <CH>)
Ping (PING <CH>)
Shan (SHAWN <CH>)
Shing (SHEENG <CH>)
Ye (EE-yeh <CH>)
Yul (YOOL <CH>)
Zhi (JUR <CH>)
East Indian Girls:
Aarti (AR-tee <EI>)
Asha (AW-shuh <EI>)
Chanda (CHAN-duh <EI>)
Chandra (CHUN-druh <EI>)
Chaya (CHY-yuh <EI>)
Deepa (DEE-puh <EI>)
Jothi (JOH-tee <EI>)
Mallika (MAW-lee-kuh <EI>)
Meena (MEE-nuh <EI>)
Parvati or Parvathi (PAR-vaw-tee <EI>)
Ranee (RAW-nee)
Saniyya (suh-NY-yuh <EI>)
Shaila (SHAY-luh <EI>)
Shanta (SHAWN-tuh <EI>)
Shanthi (SHAWN-tee <EI>)
Sita or Seeta (SEE-tuh <EI>)
Tara (TARRR-raw <EI>)
Uma (OO-muh <EI>)
Yumuna (YAW-moo-nuh <EI>)
East Indian Boys:
Aditya (aw-DIT-yuh <EI>)
Anibal (aw-noo-BAWL <EI>)
Arnav (ar-NAWV)
Bilal (bee-LAWL <EI>)
Deepak (dee-PAWK <EI>)
Krishna (KRISH-nuh <EI>)
Pranav (PRAW-nawv <EI>)
Rakesh (raw-KESH <EI>)
Ram (RAWM <EI>)
Ravi (RAW-vee <EI>)
Roshan (ROH-shun <EI>)
Samaj (suh-MAWJ <EI>)
Sampath (SUM-put <EI>)
Vishnu (VISH-noo <EI>)
Japanese Girls:
Aiko (EYE-koh <JAP>)
Akiko (AW-kee-koh <JAP>)
Emi (EM-mee <JAP>)
Emiko (EM-ee-koh <JAP>)
Hana (HAW-nuh <JAP>)
Hiroko (HEE-roh-koh <JAP>)
Jasmine (JAS-oo-meen <JAP>)
Kaiya (KY-yuh <JAP>)
Kaori (KOW-ree <JAP>)
Keiko (KAY-koh <JAP>)
Mai (MY <JAP>)
Masako (MAW-sak-oh <JAP>)
Michiko (MEE-chee-koh <JAP>)
Mina (MEE-nuh <JAP>)
Moe (MOH-way <JAP>)
Naomi (NAW-oh-mee <JAP>)
Natsumi (NAT-soo-mee <JAP>)
Sienna (shee-YAY-nuh <JAP>)
Tamiko (TAM-ee-koh <JAP>)
Tomoko (TOH-moh-koh <JAP>)
Yoko (YOH-koh <JAP>)
Yoshiko (YOH-shee-koh <JAP>)
Yuka (YOO-kuh <JAP>)
Japanese Boys:
Hidero (hee-DAIR-oh <JAP>)
Kazuo (KAW-zoo-oh <JAP>)
Kenji (KEN-jee <JAP>)
Masaaki (ma-SAW-aw-kee <JAP>)
Ringo (REEN-goh <JAP>)
ShinIchi (shin-EE-chee <JAP>)
Yuuji (YOO-oo-jee <JAP>)