This honourable Chinese surname is one of the most ancient on record, and has origins which probably pre-date most European hereditary surnames. Much research work remains to be done on oriental onamastics, however it can be said with some certainty that the majority of names have an abstract or ornamental meaning. This is the opposite of mainstream Western surnames which have a major tendancy towards a topographic, (Hill, Brook, Berg, etc) patronymic, (Jones, Jackson, Hendrickson, etc.) or occupational (Schmidt, Smith, Chaucer, etc.) translation.In a sense oriental surnames are forms of nickname, such as Chan (old), Lee (meadow), Sing (vanquish), and in addition they can have multiple meanings. These are conditioned by both the prefix given name, and in particular the three separate Sino-Tibetan languages - Mandarin, Cantonese, and Pekinese - which are all spoken on the Chinese continent! In the case of 'Chang', the meanings can be as diffuse as 'Constant', 'Mountain', 'open', and 'archer', the latter apparently being a Korean origin. The early recordings are all from the Province of Fukien in China, the original name holders clearly being persons of considerable stature. Fong Sing Chang, who married 'Huen' at Ch'ang-Lo, Ngan San, Hsien, in the year 1324, and Yung-Kan Chang recorded at the same place in the year 1673. On January 13th 1772, Gun Chin Chang married Kuang Tung at Canton, whilst on October 22nd 1923, Irving Chang, the son of Shue and Sue Chang, was born at Oakland, California, U S A. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Fong-chuen Chang, which was dated 1286, born at Ch'ang-Lo, Province of Fukien, during the reign of The 'Sung Dynasty' from 946 to 1276 a.d. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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