What’s in a (Chinglish) name? I’ll tell you…

I like that Chinese people sometimes choose unusual English names or transliterate their names into English (when they can), not because we get to laugh at the occasionally odd results (though that is fun), but because a good Chinglish name often contains some self-expression while still being workable in English (Apple, Moon, Star, Rainbow, etc.); in perhaps an indirect or vague sort of way it expresses part of them and the fact that they’re Chinese and Chinese people do names differently than we do. Why shouldn’t they carve out their own space in the English name landscape? Of course other names, while nice in Chinese, are simply no good in English (Drizzle, Ripple); they’re too strange or silly to actually function as truly usable English names. I’ll let you decide for yourselves which of my current students’ names below have real potential. They’re listed in the order they came to mind:

  • AK (yes, like the gun, she picked it on purpose because she likes guns.)
  • Falcon (formerly Eagle: he had an annoying coworker named after some other kind of bird in Chinese, Sparrow I think, so for his English name he chose a bird that eats his coworker’s kind of bird.)
  • Gaga
  • Florra (She wanted to be different, but a bunch of other Chinese women who also wanted to be different already had the idea of using the Spanish word for flower, so she added an r.)
  • Enya
  • Eack (was supposed to be “Ike”, but somehow he spelled it wrong).
  • Kobe
  • Bryant
  • Carter (we knew a “Spippen” in Taibei).
  • Ray (don’t know why she picked this).
  • Cherry
  • Candy
  • Duke
  • Evian
  • Edword (because he likes words).
  • Win (I forget why she said she picked this)
  • Queena
  • Long (going for “dragon” (é¾™)? I don’t know.)
  • Sharpay
  • Coco

(This is exactly why it took me several months before finally settling on a Chinese name.)

Related Posts:

One thought on “What’s in a (Chinglish) name? I’ll tell you…”

Leave a Reply!