Yang (surname)

Yang (surname)

Yang is the transcription of the Chinese family name / . It is the sixth most common surname in Mainland China.[citation needed]



Yang is most often the transliteration of the character (in simplified Chinese: 杨). The same character can also mean a type of poplar. The character is composed of a "wood" radical on the left and the character yang () on the right, which indicates the pronunciation of the whole character.

Yang can also be the phonetic translation of other Chinese surnames, including 阳, the Chinese character for the Sun, and a very rare Chinese family name 羊, the Chinese character for Goat or Sheep.


Four origins are recorded for the surname Yang (楊):

  1. Out of the Ji (姬) surname, the surname of the royal family during the Zhou dynasty. A fifth generation descendant of Duke Wu of Jin was enfeoffed at a place called Yang, and his descendants adopted this as their surname, giving rise to the surname Yang.
  2. Translation of surnames used by other ethnic groups in ancient China. For example, the Di people used the surname Yang. The Yang clan of the Di people lived in Chouchi in Gansu.
  3. Homogenisation of another surname pronounced Yang (揚), written with a "hand" radical rather than the "wood" radical. The two characters were used interchangeably in ancient times.
  4. Other adoptions. For example, the Mohulu clan of the Northern Wei dynasty changed their surname to "Yang".

The "Four Knows"

A tablet for "Hall of Four Knows"

Some branches of the Yang clan (in particular the Hongnong branch) refer to themselves as "Yang of the Hall of Four Knows". The "Hall of Four Knows" refers to a story concerning Yang Zhen, an official of the Eastern Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD), known for his erudition as well as moral character. When a man named Wang Mi visited Yang Zhen at night and attempted to bribe him 10 catties of gold, Yang rejected the gift. Wang Mi persevered, saying that nobody would know. Yang Zhen famously retorted "the Heaven knows, the Earth knows, I know and you know". Descendents of Yang Zhen adopted the "four knows", or "Si Zhi" as the title of their clan hall. Some Yang family clan halls in various parts of China still carry this name.

Other variations of the Yang surname (e.g. alternative regional pronunciations)

  • Yahng
  • Yeo (Hokkien, Singapore)
  • Eyu (Hokkien/Cantonese, notably Fujian or Hong Kong) (very rare)
  • Yeung (Cantonese, notably Hong Kong)
  • Yeung (Hakka, in Mauritius)
  • Yio (Hokkien)
  • Yong (Hakka)
  • Young
  • Yeong
  • Yeoh (Hokkien, Malaysian, teochew, notably Penang)
  • Eav
  • Eaw
  • Njo ( Indonesia spelling derived from old Dutch pronunciation )
  • Ieong (Cantonese, notably Macau - Portuguese pronunciation)
  • Dương (Vietnamese)
  • Jong
  • Yaaj (in the Green Hmong dialect)
  • Yaj (in the White Hmong dialect)
  • Ngeo (Hokkien, Peranakan pronunciation)
  • Yoo/Yu (from Philippines)
  • Duong (Vietnam)

Notable people with family name Yang

See also

External links

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