Our Chinese names regularly consist of three parts. Societies in ancient China were made up of extended families, so the first part of the name is the last name, the family name. The second part is the middle name and should be the symbol of the generation. The third part is just your first name, your own name.
Nowadays, in the countryside, people still use this rule to give someone a name. My first name is Xiao Wei. Xiao in Chinese means small. For example, xiao cat and xiao dog mean little cat and little dog. Xiao river and xiao tree mean small river and small tree, and so on.
If you add xiao in front of a person’s first name, it is the nickname that families, relatives and good friends use to call the person. But if you add xiao in front of the last name, it is the short name co-workers call you in the workplace.
There is another meaning of xiao; it stands for the age level from about 18 to 40 years old. For example, I was called Xiao Nong when I was in China. Lao means old. For example, my father is old enough to be called Lao Nong, but when he was younger, he was Xiao Nong, too.
My middle name should be An, not Xiao. That’s because in recent years in the cities of China, the society has become one made up of nuclear families. People no longer follow the old rule of giving names, and some have even dropped the middle name. My name is just the combination of the last name and the nickname.