My Chinese Name
My Chinese name is 陶(tao2)家(jia1)泰(tai4) – an archaic version of these characters is shown on my chop (reading from right to left and top to bottom).
The first character, tao2 is my family name and the spelling “To” comes from the Cantonese pronunciation.
The second character is my generation name. In the middle of the 19th century my paternal great-great-grandfather chose my family's generation names for the succeeding eight generations using the following couplet:
A generation name, common to the offspring of each generation, is typically given to the children1) of the the male descendants of the male descendants, etc.2) of the original ancestor (in my family's case this was my paternal great-great-grandfather). For example, the generation name of my paternal great-grandfather and his brothers is dun1, the generation name of my paternal grandfather is hou4, etc. Being from the fifth generation following my great-great-grandfather, the generation name for my children will be shi13) and should they choose to continue this tradition, the generation name for my grandchildren will be shu1.4)
The final character of my name was chosen by my parents. My father's nickname as a child was “a1 tai4” – I was and still am called this by my relatives and family friends.