#57: 老百姓的百家姓


“赵钱孙李,周吴郑王”这不是成语,而是一本著名的书——《百家姓》——的内容。这本书把中国人的姓排列在一起,帮助人们学习。百家姓,就是很多很多的姓。

中国人的姓在五六千年以前就出现了。据说,历史上一共出现过一万多个姓,其中大部分是一个字的姓,另外还有两个字或两个字以上的姓。那中国人的姓是怎么产生的呢?最早的时候,人们是没有姓的,只有名。为了纪念祖先或者家乡,人们就有了姓。比如:王姓,是为了纪念祖先是王;周姓,是为了纪念祖先是周朝的贵族。中国的大部分姓都来自地名,比如:赵、吴、郑、秦……其他的姓来自于辈分或者职业,还有一些姓来自于其他民族;现在,有一些父母把两个人的姓放在一起当作孩子的姓。

《百家姓》这本书没有其他的内容,只有姓,一共504个姓。每句都是四个字,按照读音排列起来,朗朗上口。在古代的时候,《百家姓》就是给孩子读的。由于这本书是在宋朝写的,宋朝皇帝姓赵,所以《百家姓》的第一个姓就是赵。而钱、孙、李也都是当时著名的姓,所以就被排在了前面。

现在,使用最多的中国姓是王、李、张和刘。姓在中国十分重要,所以我们就把普通的人们叫做老百姓。

Bajiaxing: The Book of Names
“Zhao Qian Sun Li, Zhou Wu Zheng Wang”. These aren’t four character proverbs, rather they are the content of a famous book, Baijiaxing. This book lays out in one place the family names of the Chinese, thus helping people to learn the many many Chinese names.
The family names of the Chinese emerged five or six thousand years ago. It is said that altogether there are some 10,000 historical family names. Most of these are of a single character, whilst others have two characters and others have more than two. But how did Chinese names come into being? Very early on, people didn’t have family names, just a first name. Then to commemorate their ancestors or hometown, people started to use a family name. For example, the family name, Wang, commemorates those ancestors who were kings; the family name Zhou commemorates the aristocracy of the Zhou dynasty. Most Chinese family names come from place name, for example, Zhao, Wu, Zheng, and Qin. Others arise from clan seniority or profession. Still others arise from ethnic background. Today, some parents put their family names together to create their child’s family name.
Baijiaxing has no contents other than names, containing 504 altogether. Every clause is four characters long and, following the literary pronunciation, it flows off the tongue like poetry. In olden days, Baijiaxing was given to children to read. Since the book was written during the Song dynasty, the first name in the Baijiaxing is Zhao, the name of the Song emperor. Also, since Sun and Li were popular names of the time, they appear at its beginning.
Today, the most common Chinese family names are Wang, Zhang, and Liu. Family names are very important in China, so we call ordinary people “the old folks”.

Neil Armstrong (nbarmstrong123@gmail.com)

3 Comments

  • parul

    xie xie

  • anon

    恭喜发财

  • Hello again, as usual many thanks for your providing all this study material, also thankyou for not speaking too fast !!

    Xinnian Kuaile !
    Richard