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.