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Surname Chang - Meaning and Origin

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A Voyage through the Chang Dynasty: Unearthing Family History through iGENEA DNA Test

Unraveling my family's past through my iGENEA DNA test results has offered an insightful peek into my ancestral lineage and my surname, Chang. The deeper understanding of my genetic makeup has fostered a profound connection with my roots, enriching my identity in ways I never imagined. The results hold a mirror to our past and underline the traits, both physical and cultural, that we've inherited from our ancestors. It has given my Surname, Chang, more depth and relevance in my life.

C. Chang

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Chang: What does the surname Chang mean?

Chang is a common Chinese surname that carries multiple meanings depending on its specific characters and context. In Mandarin, the surname is often spelled as "Zhang" and is one of the most common last names in China.

One of the most typical meanings of Chang is "archer" or "bowyer," derived from its usage in ancient times. This meaning points to a significant number of the Chang family ancestors who might have been professional archers. The surname also has other interpretations, including "stretch" or "extend" in some contexts.

Now, despite the shared common Romanized spelling, it's crucial to note that Chang can also be a Korean surname, derived from different Chinese characters. In the Korean context, Chang can mean “bright,” “clear,” or “good.”

Both in China and Korea, the surname has a rich history with numerous significant figures bearing it, contributing to the fields of politics, arts, sciences, and more.

Given this multi-cultural usage, the exact meaning of the last name "Chang" greatly depends on the historical, linguistic, and family context in which it is used.

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Chang: Where does the name Chang come from?

The surname Chang is of Chinese origin and is one of the most common last names used by people of Chinese descent. It was the royal surname of the ancient State of Guzhu in the Spring and Autumn Period, making it one of the oldest known surnames. Chang translates to "free" or "unhindered" in English. Depending on the region and dialect, the surname can be spelled as Zhang, Cheung, or Jeung.

Today, the surname Chang is widespread among Chinese communities worldwide, including Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and among overseas Chinese communities in countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, and others. In particular, the last name is very common in Taiwan due to the influence of the Wade-Giles phonetic notation system which was widely used during the 20th century in Taiwan. Despite the switch to the Pinyin system, which typically transcribes the last name as Zhang, the name Chang is still prevalent. According to a 2019 study, Chang was the 6th most common surname in Taiwan.

Variations of the surname Chang

The surname Chang originates from Chinese culture, and is derived from the Chinese character "常", meaning "always" or "perpetual". It is also pronounced as "Zhang" in Mandarin Chinese, and sometimes spelled as "Cheung" or "Chong" based on different dialects and regions (e.g., Cantonese, Teochew).

Other variations of spelling for Chang can include "Tchang" or "Tschang" and may also be romanized differently such as "Zhang" using the Pinyin system, "Chiang" using the Wade-Giles system, or "Cheang" used in Hokkien and Taiwanese.

In Korean culture, the same character "장" is Romanized as "Jang" or "Chang". The Korean family name can also be spelled as "Chong" or "Jung" due to different transliteration systems.

There can also be additional variants due to regional influences or personal preferences, such as "Tjiang", "Tsjang", "Zang", "Tsang", "Jan", "Jeung", or "Zhaang".

It's important to note that the pronunciation and spelling of Asian surnames can greatly differ in Western countries due to adaptations and phonetic interpretations.

To avoid confusion, always ask for the preferred spelling or pronunciation. Remember that these are just possible variants and may not represent all possible variations due to the complexity and diversity of Chinese, Korean and other Asian languages.

Famous people with the name Chang

  • Gordon G. Chang: Known as a prolific writer, author and columnist, he made contributions in topics related to Asia, particularly China.
  • Jodi Chang: A fictional character in the "Last Mountain Man" series but also known as the pseudonym of an American actress who has participated in big-scale Hollywood movies.
  • Michael Chang: A famous American former professional tennis player who became the youngest male player to win a Grand Slam singles title.
  • Ken Jeong: Born Kendrick Kang-Joh Jeong, he is an American actor, comedian, and physician known for his role as Ben Chang on the sitcom Community.
  • Eileen Chang: One of the most influential modern Chinese writers whose works delve into the tensions between men and women in love.
  • David Chang: Popular celebrity chef, restaurateur, and television personality known for his Michelin Star awarded Momofuku restaurant.
  • Leslie Chang: Noted Chinese-American journalist renowned for her work in The Wall Street Journal.
  • Kristi Yamaguchi: Born Kristine Tsuya Yamaguchi, she is an American former figure skater and broadcaster. She is the 1992 Olympic Champion in women's singles. Yamaguchi's maternal grandfather's surname is Chang.
  • Elaine Chao: Born Elaine Lan Chao, she is an American businesswoman and politician, serving as Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Labor.

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