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English names: practical or just pretentious?

Moderator: hansioux

Postby Bassman » 28 Mar 2003, 11:44

What do people call you behind your back?
Do they use English or Chinese?
Practical or pretentious?
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Postby Bassman » 28 Mar 2003, 11:48

Geez, Anton, general question - if I were talking ONLY to YOU I would have quoted you!

Touchy subject Huh?
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Postby Screaming Jesus » 28 Mar 2003, 17:39

Fortunately, I have a name that translates easily into most major languages, so it seems less arbitrary to "translate" it. I don't care how people pronounce it as long as I know it's me. When I introduce myself to people here or sign things, I usually give both English and Chinese versions.

This should probably go onto the Chinese-name threat, but oh well--I get the impression that my Chinese name gets a better reception because it is obviously related to the English, than if it were just made up out of whole cloth.
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Postby taiwan boy » 29 Mar 2003, 09:21

I think there are three good reasons why people in Taiwan adopt foreign (or so-called English) names.

1. Many foreigners have difficulty remembering and/or pronouncing Chinese names correctly.
2. Many Taiwanese don't have much idea how to write their names in romanised form. This in turn exacerbates problem one.
3. The lack of a standard system of romanisation means the romanised form of people's Chinese names often bears little relation to the actual pronunciation. Again this feeds back to problem one.
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Postby Feiren » 31 Mar 2003, 08:03

I think there is a fourth reason. The issue of what to call another person in Chinese can be a bit sensitive. First names (ming) often seem too personal especially if used by members of an 'out-group' like foreigners. Very often Taiwanese speakers use alternative names such as A-ming or A-bun to get around this problem. But if you don't know the person you may claiming too much familiarity. English names are a solution to this problem.
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Postby aceman » 03 Apr 2003, 17:13

matthewh wrote:
Screaming Jesus wrote:I wonder if CKS ever had an English name? If so, wonder what it was?

No, but had had about 3 or 4 chinese names: practical or pretentious ?

CKS had 3 or 4 names cuz back in the days everyone had 3 or 4 names. It was part of the culture. His names weren't really pretentious. His titles, however, were. Like Generalissimo or some such.
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Re: English names: practical or just pretentious?

Postby Sinister Tiddlywinks » 12 Aug 2011, 01:49

Wow, 8 years later, and I still think it's pretentious. Did someone re-type my previous posts or was I just brain-washed?

I'm back in the States now, and I have to say, when I meet someone who uses their original name, I feel respect. And when someone uses a Western name, but they're obviously not Western, the pretentious lights still go off. Or maybe "coy" or just "silly".

Is it practical? [shrug]
There are people in the West who go their whole lives with a non-Western name which is difficult to pronounce for most people, and yet they go with it.

For some, it's "breaking the mold"; becoming a new person; like rock stars do. Pretentious? Maybe, but if it helps you grow as a person, it's a good thing.

The English-name thing is such a widespread phenomenon in China and Taiwan that no one questions it anymore. It just seems like either a collective kowtow to the West, which is kind of like self-inflicited cultural victimization; or it's like a patronizing coyness, which is kind of Han-Chauvinistic.

For many, though, I feel it may be foremost a "mold-breaker"; a mantra for personal growth; highlighting who you "can" be rather than who you've grown up as. But at the same time, the kowtow to the West and the coyness linger in the background.

So, there you have it:
One of my pet peeves.

Ho hum.
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Re: English names: practical or just pretentious?

Postby msleft » 12 Aug 2011, 06:03

Is it pretentious for a pet to have human name?
I think it's fun to pick a name for yourself (and someone else.)
There may be several reasons for people to have English names, such as easier pronounced, easier remembered, etc.
I had an English name when I started to learn English. That's given by my English teacher.
After many years, I changed that and picked my own English name.
I don't think it's pretentious and I do think English names are easier memorised than Chinese ones.
But if my Chinese name could be easily and correctly pronounced, I probably will not choose to pick a English name.
Cus I prefer having a rather unique and special name.
C'est la vie?!
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Re: English names: practical or just pretentious?

Postby pqkdzrwt » 12 Aug 2011, 09:12

Why do so many people have problems with other people choosing a second name in another language. Many people do it. Most people in my chinese classes over the years also like to choose a chinese name.

It is neither practical or pretentious! I would suggest most people choose a second name in a second language because it is either, symbolic of trying to adopt a language, fun, or cool.
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