blogging gobbledygook and such

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This is KatM‘s handwritten valentine! Do you like my handwriting here? Haha. This decorative chalkboard is from my kitchen; if you take a look at the pictures, you can see the word smile which I had not been able to fully wipe off.

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bloggerdygook has a soundtrack, thanks to dave!! For some reason, it reminds me of walking into a Western saloon where the cowboys hang out. I think it matches what I’m trying to do here, to make a hangout place for all my lovely friends. ) Thanks so much, dave, I love it!

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Related post

I am Asian. Aside from my Chinese name, I have not one, but two English names. As a kid, I used to go by one of my English names. But then I went by my Chinese name when I started primary school, because my mother wrote that name on all my exercise books.

So till now, I introduce myself with the Chinese name. When I think of myself, it’s the Chinese name that I see myself as, not the English names. That said, if someone were to call me by any of my names on the street, I’d actually answer to it.

The point? Right, yes. The point is… I don’t get this whole English name thing. Why do we give our kids English names when we are not Caucasians? I mean, you don’t see Caucasians giving their kids Japanese or Chinese names, do you? (Okay, I’m sure there are some out there, but it’s very uncommon.)

I know I’m hitting it rather close to home, seeing as my parents gave me English names, and I myself actually want my own kids to have English names! I mean, why, really?? Why do I want to? Why do we want to fashion ourselves with names that doesn’t exactly reflect our race, or culture, or identity?

I used to think that people who gave themselves English names because they don’t like their real names were lame. ‘Cos it’s not your name in truth; it’s a nickname, a play name. I know better now, and I understand that people have the right to choose what they would like to be called as. I mean, not everybody will like what names their parents gave them. I’m just lucky that I agree with my parents’ taste in names. (Not entirely, though. I really, really don’t like the other English name my parents gave me.)

So, what do you think? Do you think fashioning an English name for yourself when you’re an Asian or giving your kid some fancy English names pretentious? Perhaps for convenience? (It is easier to remember English names since they’re so common.) Does it indicate a lack of pride in your own culture or race?

What does this custom of Asian people having English names signify?

Comments on: "Of Asian People & English Names" (22)

  1. Sulz: I cannot tell you why Chinese people use Caucasian/ American/ English names but I can recommend this post to you which covers other weird practices in giving names as well.

    http://laviequotidienne.wordpress.com/2007/08/23/the-name-game-or-gaming-naming/

    It still is amongst my top 2 or 3 posts although it dates back to August ’07.

    sulz: thanks for the read. πŸ™‚ i guess there isn’t any one straight answer for this!

  2. Sulz, I completely agree with you here. I don’t understand the need for Westernizing one’s name or the spelling of the name. I’ve seen loads of Asians doing this as soon as they come to the US. And the funny thing is that all my American friends tell me that it would’ve been much better had they not done so. In fact, most of them follow this name changing ceremony. I’m really proud of my heritage and my culture. If the Western people don’t understand my name or find it difficult to pronounce it, then it’s not my problem. I think we’re fortunate that we, as Asians, can easily pronounce all sorts of names, Asian or non-Asian. πŸ™‚

    So, the bottomline is, I’m going to stick with this name, forever. Because I love it. Changing one’s name to adapt to a new country is as good as changing one’s identity, which I refuse to do.

    sulz: well, hopefully someone can enlighten us if they happen to know the answer and came across my question. πŸ˜‰ i must admit that i use my chinese name not because i am proud of my heritage or any of that sort, but because i feel most myself with this name. my family actually uses my english name to refer to me, which i am used to so i won’t make them call me by my chinese name the way i make my friends do.

    you have a pretty name anyway. πŸ˜‰

  3. *chuckles* πŸ˜„

    sulz: πŸ˜‰

  4. My friend Roger should see this post. Neither of his parents can correctly pronounce his name, nor his brothers’ or sisters’ names either. He asked them once why they gave them all Caucasian names they themselves couldn’t pronounce and they said they thought it would set them up for success in life.

    But he hates being “Lodger” at home.

    sulz: haha! you have to give credit to his parents for their well-meant intentions though. that’s an interesting story about this issue for sure.

  5. This is a pretty nice valentine!

    As I think you already know, I’m mixed… part Chinese, part French and part Hispanic; so when the owner of me heart and I have a baby boy, even if she doesn’t like it, I’ll name him Fei-Hung Juan Jan Pierre… πŸ˜›

    No, seriously, she wouldn’t let me name him Fei-Hung because she says all the kids would make fun of him because Wong Fei-Hung was a famous person… but kids these days don’t even know who he was, so it shouldn’t be a problem… right?

    sulz: glad you like it. if you want one yourself, you know what to do. πŸ˜‰

    when? wow, since when you can decide the sex of your baby?? πŸ˜› (you’re going to say semantics much? now wouldn’t you?)

    i think your significant other has a point, and so do you. as for the name, err… no comment! πŸ˜› i’m sure you guys can find a name you can both agree on!

    (and how do you pronoun jan? [dzan] or [yaen])

  6. Nice Valentine. I like the bear blackboard, and of course, the sentiment.

    I have the USA perspective here. Unlike many other countries, there is not a primary ethnicity, or original language, or culture here, as we are primarily a country of immigrants. Asians, like most other immigrants, wanted to fit into the culture they had adopted, so they took on Anglo names. But this was no different than the actions of any other immigrant group. A first generation Italian might be named Giuseppe Corelli, for example, but his child would probably be Emily Corelli. And so on with all the other ethnic groups. It seems to be different where you are, though, because you mention it in relation to Chinese people particularly. I would think if they followed the practice in the USA, Chinese people would give their children Malay names….they don’t do this, right?
    The majority of African-Americans don’t have names which reflect their African culture, for obvious and unfortunate reasons. So, a person of African heritage would most likely have a name like Joe Johnson.
    Even Native Americans, because they have been so out-numbered and oppressed will usually have the English translation of their first name, along with their Hopi or Navajo (for instance) last name. So “Gaagii” (in Navajo) would become “Raven”.
    Also, here in the US, many people were given names by immigration officers who could not pronounce their original names, or else names were “Americanized”: Schneider, from Germany, became “Snyder”. Easier for us to pronounce and spell.
    Hah! I’ll bet you didn’t expect so long an answer. I’ll close with a joke I learned while living in Hawaii:

    A young man is registering for a class at the University of Hawaii. “What’s your name?” the registrar asked. “Lars Larsen”, he replied. “How did you get a name like that? Aren’t you Chinese?” “Well, when I came through immigration I was in line behind another man. They asked him his name and he replied ‘Lars Larsen’. When it was my turn I told them my name, ‘Sam Ting’. They thought I said ‘same thing’, so now my name is Lars Larsen.”

    sulz: i might not have expected it, but it was very interesting! yeah, exactly, chinese people don’t give their children malay names. however, there is a chinese man here who gave his kids each one malay, chinese and indian name to reflect the main races of malaysia, which i felt was quite fascinating!

    i don’t think it’s solely us chinese people who have english names (well, we are the most populous race in the world) but also other asians. rain is the name of a popular korean artist. some malay names are spelled the western way, and malaysian indians do give english names to their kids too.

    haha, i laughed out loud in the computer lab at that joke! people must be thinking i’m weird. πŸ˜›

    • Rain (or Bee) is not his real name -_-;;
      Bee means rain in Korean and thats his stage name in Korea.

  7. i forgot to mention: the song is yours… (but not the kopi right nyuk nyuk)

    you can hotlink it by getting the code here. πŸ˜„

    sulz: wah… link to your post, not good meh? can give you hits mer.

  8. Wow, that chalkboard is way too cute. One of my friends has something like that in his house. It belongs to his sister and she looks at us like she would kill us if we touch it so we don’t. Blackboards are fun, I like!

    Now, I believe your name is your identity so you should never change it. There used to be one time when I didn’t really like my name much because you know girls usually have this name and it sounds very Indian and it’s kinda difficult to pronounce for some people. But at the end of the day, I realized that hey, it’s my name after all and it’s not that bad. And we shouldn’t change our names because people can’t pronounce it. If we mean enough to people, I’m sure they can practice it and get the right way. So now it doesn’t make a difference.

    Gotta love the Bloggerdygook theme song!

    sulz: haha, it’s cute, but i don’t like my handwriting on it. πŸ˜›

    you’re right! nowadays names aren’t so associated with gender more too. i used to think kelly, jamie, ashley, leslie were all female names.

    i know! it grew on me after the first few listens. πŸ˜‰

  9. lovelyloey said:

    We give our children English names because we are sick of hearing Caucasians mash up the pronunciation. They aren’t particularly adept and triphthongs and glides. (e.g. Chiang Cheow Liang)

    Hoho.
    We discussed this problem in detail in lecture last week.

    sulz: that’s a fair reason. wah, got such a chinese name ah? even i would have difficulty to pronounce name! πŸ˜›

    damn, should’ve been there! πŸ˜€

  10. Crap. Now I’m sitting here bawling. Thanks Sulz. You’re awesome!

    We give all our students English nicknames. At my last school I had a student change his nickname every single month. But the end of the year I was saying “Joe, I mean Kevin, I mean Chuck, I mean… Oye! YOU!!”.

    sulz: you’re most welcome! πŸ˜€ don’t cry… *hugs*

    hahaha, you need name tags i think. πŸ˜‰

  11. I don’t think it’s pretentious. After all, a name is a name, and if you like the sound of an English name, surely you should be free to use it. After all, there are some very nice English names. πŸ˜‰

    I was under the impression that people from countries where English isn’t the first language will often adopt English names, not because they like them, but because English speakers won’t be able to pronounce their “real” names. I don’t think this is pretentious – in fact I think it’s understandable, because it must be tiring to hear your name being mangled all the time – but I do think it’s catering for Western ignorance, which I’m not sure is a good idea. I mean, why can’t English speakers take the trouble to learn how to say one’s name properly? It’s not asking much, is it? It’s one of the things that annoys me the most about Westerners.

    Ah, I don’t want to get sidetracked into a rant, especially not in your comment form. πŸ˜‰ Suffice to say, I don’t have any problem with people who want to adopt English names, but I think it reflects badly on us English speakers that many of us are too lazy to learn to pronounce unfamiliar names properly. Heck, I’ve known people in the UK to have trouble with British names like Morwenna, so heaven help those who use names from further afield!

    Of course, I think it helps if you use roman lettering when talking with English speakers, since I don’t think most English people can be blamed for not being able to read Chinese; it’s totally different from English.

    Of course, that depends on how well you know somebody. I wouldn’t mind strangers who spoke a language without an “r” sound calling me “Lob” instead of “Rob”, but if somebody did it everyday, I would get annoyed with that person for not making an effort to learn my name.

    Whoops… I did get sidetracked, even though I said I wouldn’t! 😦 Sorry Sulz! And I haven’t even shed any light on the question of why people choose to adopt English names, I’ve just given a long-winded opinion!

    OK, this is me, officially shutting up before I make things worse for myself.

    sulz: hey, don’t worry about getting sidetracked, i don’t mind a bit! πŸ™‚ well, i think your opinion helps in understanding what the westerners feel about this issue. you have a point about hard-to-pronounce native names (as pointed out by others too). i’m lucky that my chinese name is somewhat similar to some western names so pronouncing it is very easy, even though some people say it wrong too! otherwise, i might probably be tempted to use my english name, who knows?

    oh, i totally agree there are some really nice english names. i’m lucky to have one of them myself. πŸ˜‰

  12. I pronounce Jan as in January…

    sulz: ah, okay… sounds a bit feminine to me, to be honest. πŸ˜› but hey, as long as your significant other is fine, right?

  13. err… i’m not really one who craves for readership. you know that, don’t you? nak keep low profile. sked. O.o haha…

    sulz: haha, scared people recognise you from that tv show is it? :mrgreen:

  14. nah… not really worried bout that anymore. ppl have forgotten it! yay! but about last year i received an email from a person who threatened to sue me because i wrote shit bout her in my blog. you could say that was a bad experience. i kinda learnt not to attract too much attention.

    sulz: wah, drama! link? πŸ˜›

  15. Sulz: FWIW, I have noticed that people in Britain and in America have been very willing to pronounce names correctly. Some Indians, especially in the South, have some serious tongue-twister names. There are complex dipthong and triphtong sounds in the names too which means many a time other Indians end up mangling them as well. We do not even have to leave the shores of India!

    That does not mean that we all adopt simple Caucasian names. After all, what is wrong with offering to correct the mangled pronunciation of your own name? I do and I find people are always grateful for it.

    Besides if any one is under the impression that Chinese names are hard, try Polish names! One name I saw had 6 consonants one after the other. Before that I was familiar with 4 consonants as is common in the German language. πŸ™‚

    sulz: yeah, i’m sure anybody appreciates someone who makes the effort to pronounce one’s name properly! but there will be those who don’t care to mispronounce a person’s name and constantly uses his or her own version of a person’s name despite having been corrected repeatedly. oh, that can get on my nerves sometimes! πŸ™‚

    suddenly i appreciate my simple, common name given by my parents. πŸ˜›

  16. sorry. takde. deleted everything related to her. -.-‘

    sulz: oh… at least nothing really happened.

  17. Hi Sulz forgot to hug you earlier, I’ll hug you twice and one extra for Valentine’s Day. You have got five people reading your blog at the moment. Wow!

    sulz: oh, thank you! *hugs back* hmm, do you think i might have a secret admirer or two among them reading up my valentine day’s post? πŸ˜›

  18. i can totally understand why people use english name in america. I myself introduce myself as fadz and then just go by Fuzz here when i first move to the USA from Malaysia. It is convenient for both parties.

    What i find rather pretentious is when people start having name such as Quincy Woo, Maximillian Tan, Rihanna Chen, Josephina Lin and many other supposedly glamor name i have heard when i was in Malaysia. If it is really for the sake of convenient than just stick to Lee or Mei or Hao… or if it is so hard to pronounce like Zhu Xianglinhg for example, then i guess you can go for Zhu or since its the surname and can be confusing find a normal english name like Mary, or Jenny but not Catherina or Esmerelda. It is purely disgusting trying to come up with a name like that. Bukannya rakyat malaysia tak reti nak sebut nama orang cina, i grew up having chinese friends and even my illiterate grandma can say my friends’ names. So why the names like Jameson, Christopher, Adriana or whatever names these chinese (even indians to some extent) are coming up with? You almost never find a malay naming themselves those name, unless they are born with those name. Yes they go by Joe,Jeff,Ross for shorts for Johan,Jefri and Rosli but never have i heard Mohamad Leonardo Bin Robert.

    sulz: haha, i get what you mean about pretentious names. i myself have one, but at my defense it was chosen by my parents (yes, it’s in the birth cert). πŸ˜› well, tak boleh stereotaip semua orang malaysia kan, memang ada yang tak reti sebut name cina! tapi itu bukan alasan lah. what about that actor, pierre andre? that’s his real name tau… πŸ™‚

  19. Yeah, i know… i’m not saying ALL malaysians can pronounce chinese names… i know some names are tough… but seriously most aren’t. And as i said, Pierre Andre is born with that name. I’ll say the parents are pretentious. BUt most Chinese name themselves those names. And the new gen Malaysians will start putting those names for their kids.

    To be honest, Most parents nowadays start naming their kids with names that virtually have no significance like Pierre Andre. I’m sure the parent would tell you it means something in latin or something… and my response to that would be, “right….”

    sulz: i guess it’s just social evolution, in a way. we may think it’s pretentious, but the name-givers (or choosers, if they chose their own english names) think it’s meaningful. maybe they have a story behind the names, not necessarily for its origin in latin or hebrew or greek. for instance, myself. i actually have a rather pretentious-sounding name. each time i go for interviews, that’s a talking point.

  20. Nicholas King said:

    Hi, I think English names now are very popular for Asian. Simply, it’s easy for other countries people can call our names. They cannot pronouce our real names right, cannot remember them, but with an English name, they can easily remember us… I think english names make more convenient when Asian communicate with the world. just like the language (English)

    sulz: that’s true. thanks for commenting. πŸ™‚

  21. shafiabegum said:

    i think it might be because english names are easier to pronounce than asian names, eg. my sister’s tutor was called Ng but he told people to call him N-G (en-gee) but i guess maybe some people opt for the easier/open option of adopting an english name. it’s just my opinion. interesting topic though πŸ˜‰

    sulz: easier because it’s more common and known, yeah. it is, isn’t it? πŸ˜›

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