Thursday, April 30, 2009

English Names, Korean Names...

Here's an interesting trend this Chinese American guy picked up on upon moving back to China. The Texas legislator mentioned got hosed for suggesting Asian minorities in the USA adopt "American" names. But while I agree her remarks were insensitive and ignorant, I also found it completely ironic that such a suggestion would be acceptable, normal, or even trendy to do such a thing in Asia.

Like the author in China, I too noticed a similar trend here in Korea, as I have several students who insist upon me calling them by some generic English or vaguely Western name. While I don't think the trend is quite so out of control in the Korean Peninsula as the author suggests things are in China, like him I puzzled about it for a bit.

To my supreme bewilderment at work one day, a co-worker begged me several times to give her an appropriate "English" name. I eventually dubbed her Tiffany. I've other friends, students and acquaintances who go by everything from Tony, Sonny, Carrie, Steve, Ivy, Amy, Jack, etc.

Only fair then, that I should have a Korean name! So I ran across this dumb facebook application that tells you your Korean name. My Korean name is now: Shin Il. I think it suits me quite nicely. Comments?

The Name's Du Xiao Hua, But Call Me Steve by Huan Tsu.


Krista said...

That was an interesting article. I didn't realize that having English names was so prevalent in China. I guess when I was there, I didn't meet so many business people. I have friends in Canada (who were born in Hong Kong or China) who have English names (Raymond, Kevin, Ivan, Jackie, Joey, Peter, Winnie to name a few). Perhaps another reason I didn't meet many English names in China, is that I didn't meet that many Chinese that spoke English, so it was never much of an issue.

Here in Korea, many teachers choose an english name for their students. I don't force my students to choose one if they don't want to, but let them take one if they want to. I guess if people want to do it, I say let them, but if they don't allow them that choice as well. I'd like to get a Korean name and at one point had a Chinese name as well (can't remember it though). My friends talked about me as white girl, which bothered me, since I use their names when I talk about them (although I guess those are their English names). I guess I should add that their official Canadian documents use their "English" names too.

I should add though that I have some very strange names that I've come across: Golem (had 2 boys arguing over that name), Crazy Grandfather Dinosaur, Brother, Sister (who are in fact brother and sister), Umbrella, Haha, Rin, Irin, Sparta, and probably lots more... When I have encountered these unique names, I give them the option to change them, or not use them, but they never want to.

Enjoy your new name Shin Il ;)

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