British teen earns over $86,000 giving English names to Chinese kids

British teen earns over $86,000 giving English names to Chinese kids

An enterprising British teenager has made over £48,000 (S$86,430) after she started an online business giving English names to children in China.

It was on a visit to China that 16-year-old Beau Jessup got the inspiration for the unusual business idea. While on her trip, she was asked by her friends to suggest an English name for a newborn baby, Shanghaiist reported.

She intiailly thought herself unqualified to make such a decision. But then, she learnt that Chinese parents had been giving their kids some unusual - and at times, unfortunate - monikers.

"I once heard of someone called Gandalf and another called Cinderella," BBC quoted her as saying.

That's just scratching the surface, of course, and some in China are also known to bear names like Oxide or Rolex.

In response, Ms Jessup, who is from Gloucestershire in England, started SpecialName.cn, a website which assigns English names to Chinese babies based on their gender and personality.

"It's called 'Special Name' and it's based on individual preference and what they personally want their child to be," Ms Jessup said.

On the website, parents are first asked to select the baby's gender, and then pick at least five out of 12 positive personality traits reflecting their aspirations for the child.

The website will then suggest a list of three names, along with the names' meanings and famous namesakes.

According to The Telegraph, the A-level student has so far suggested names for more than 230,000 Chinese babies in six months. Each parent is charged 68 yuan (S$13.77) to use the service.

In the last 20 years, there has been a surge in demand for English names in China that can be used for study and business in the West, the Daily Mail reported.

Ms Jessup says that she spends about two to three hours a day working on the site - that is its Mandarin interface - and talking to customers, and hopes to use the income she has made to fund her university studies, reported Gloucestershire Live.

She added that writing the text for the website was good practice for her Mandarin O-level exam.

seanyap@sph.com.sg

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