in reply to Name Space
I'm not Chinese.
When I planned to go live in China, I studied up ahead of time... for years, yes. I realized that if I did not have a Chinese name I would be given one... and I might not like it: a transliteration of my English name or a rude joke. English speakers all call me 'Bear' in meatspace. 熊 means "bear"; also, it is a common Chinese family name.
However, we are not all in the Unicode world yet, so you may not even be able to render that character properly, let alone type it. Pinyin is a system of romanization(1) in which 熊 is represented as xiong. This tells nothing about what the character means but only indicates how a putonghua speaker might pronounce it. x indicates a sound midway between s and sh and the whole is pronounced in the rising tone, as a Westerner asks a question.
In China, 熊 really is my real name. Chinese consider it so. For three years I signed contracts with my name and opened bank accounts with it. xiong means nothing but is short and unique.
(1) 北京 is the capital of China and means, logically enough, "northern capital". In the Wade-Giles system of romanization this is rendered as Peking, in the pinyin system, Beijing. It may surprise you to know that these are pronounced exactly alike.