The Name Story

Guo Shilong (国世龙) Topaz Swift
Born December 16th, 2013, 9:57pm, 9 days early, 7lbs2oz

Less than 1 hour old!(Announcing his birth now because we had to wait a whole day before he could meet his father and then we could confirm our name choices!)

Here is explanation of his name:

Guo (国) is Guo Jian’s family name or surname. It is a rare and very old family name, reserved for those who worked for the country and were part of an inner political circle. It literally means “country.”

Shi (世) literally means “world” and is part of the compound “世界” (shijie). In Chinese tradition, families have generational names for the boys, a sequence of names given to each generation within a century. When 100 years pass, the sequence begins again. Guo Jian had one, but his family didn’t incorporate it into his given name. In our son’s case, Guo Jian wanted to use the generational name because it extends to mean “global” or “worldly” and he wants his son to represent a global reality.

Long (龙)literally means “dragon” and is a quintessential symbol of China. As part of a given name, Guo Jian wanted something representing his heritage but also something that spoke of strength, perseverance, and intelligence. It was important to him to have his son’s name represent his country while also representing the world.

By extension, his name could be interpreted as “worldly dragon” or “dragon of the world,” yet this is the poetic, foreign interpretation. Chinese people will simply hear his name as his name because both characters are commonly used in names.

Topaz is a precious stone that, when translated into Chinese, is 黄玉 (huang yu) or literally “yellow jade.” The yellow version of the stone is also called “Imperial Topaz” and is said to help manifest personal intentions and desires, help strengthen one’s will, and is also the stone of friendship or attracting people into one’s life. I chose this name because I also wanted a name that represented China (yellow jade) while still having links to other cultures of the world. To me, that’s quintessentially Canadian: multiculturalism. Furthermore, my Chinese name is 子玉 (ziyu), which means “new jade” or “reborn jade.” Basically, my Chinese name represents the beginning of a new life, and my son represents the next result of that life. Having the meaning of Topaz in Chinese be so connected to my own Chinese name makes me immediately feel closer to him.

Paz, the short-form of his name and what we are calling him, also means “peace” in Spanish (one of the most widely spoken languages of the world) and “fine gold” or “precious stone” in Hebrew (one of the most ancient of the languages of the world.) Like Guo Jian, I hope our son will be a strong global citizen whose very existence embodies peace and unity between China and a wider, global reality. Again, it’s the Canadian ideal of peaceful multicultural existence, embodied in the multilingual interpretations of his name.

Swift is my surname. It will be his English surname. Like with Echo’s name, it appears at the end, whereas Chinese surnames appear at the beginning. So, for the first time in this generation in which all girls were born to this arm of the Swift family, a boy child will carry the name “Swift” one more step in our family tree. Depending on which name becomes his primary name, it may continue. Either way, the surname that he eventually passes onto his children will be his choice. I’m just happy knowing that both of my children are still connected to my surname despite the patriarchal naming systems in both Guo Jian’s and my culture.

So, there you have it: the name story.

As an epilogue to the name search, I realize that “Paz” is not exactly a fit to all the “rules” that I laid out in my previous blog. Chinese people will pronounce his name “Pa-zuh” or “Tou-Pah-Zuh” (the only pronunciation error being too much emphasis on the “z” as a separate syllable.) I can accept this and I think it’s a minor pronunciation issue, similar to Chinese people’s inability to properly pronounce the short “e” vowel sound of “Echo.” In other words, I can live with it!


We’re so excited. He’s perfect. He’s precious, in all ways.


Ember, Guo Jian, and big sister Echo.


P.S. Full Birth Story is HERE!

Birth Story #2: Paz's Journey
Will I Have Enough Love?

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