In some ways, having English-speaking parents can be a blessing to a certain extent, despite them passing on the banana trait (ie. Chinese who cannot speak Chinese). Because almost every parent who speaks English or in some ways Western-influenced will give their child an English name.
Well, am probably even more blessed as they have given self not one, but two English names, just like a typical kwai lou (Caucasian). What’s there not to like? Along with the requisite Chinese name, one can use them alternately as please – kind of like playacting when young.
But self don’t. Ever since primary school, have always used the Chinese name.
Why? Don’t know, really. Prior to that, have always gone by the first English name. Then when started Standard One, the mother wrote self’s Chinese name in the exercise books.
“Why you don’t write … full name?”
“Too long la. Some more all these Malay teachers don’t know how to pronounce your name also.”
Which was true, as they had always mangled self’s names, even the Chinese one. So self adopted this system from then on.
Often, when friends learn of self’s full name, the typical question pops up:
“Why you don’t use your English name?”
Would always give that same story just told to them. They probably think it is silly, because most people tend to go by their English names because it’s easier to remember and pronounce. In Malaysia, it’s the norm to have people choose their own English names for people to call them even though it’s not their real name, for reasons cited in the previous sentence, and perhaps to stand out. Maybe having an English name makes them sound more educated and sophiscated. Have nothing against them, but personally would not do that even if have the most horrible sounding Chinese name. (Okay, maybe if the parents were so ignorant as to name self Chee Pek, might have to reconsider those words, but one gets the idea.)
But that’s precisely why self won’t use self’s English names! Am such a shrinking violet, surely do not need to call any more attention to self? Self’s Chinese name is quite lovely sounding but so terribly common, that when the teacher searched the register for some unfortunate uniquely-named student to call upon to answer her question, nine times out of ten self’s name would be passed over.
Furthermore, self have come to appreciate the many names self possess as symbols of her different identities. The Chinese name is given to friends and acquaintances. The first English name is given to relatives. The second English name should be buried and forgotten because self really, really dislike it.
What’s the whole point of this post?
To record self’s ineloquent thoughts on this matter, that’s all.
So for the record, self really, really like self’s Chinese name. It makes self feel more Chinese. If you want to use self’s English name to call self, you must be family before you can do so. Don’t even call self by the initial of self’s English name. Self’s name is not Ay, or Bee, or See, or Dee. So don’t call self that.
(So awful isn’t it, this whole first-person-pronoun-avoidant thing. Feel like self’s speech is so spastic.)