jonny goes to england

London & co

On the strangeness of chinese english names

with 3 comments

Every Chinese person I met has an English name. After meeting many “Christines”, “Pauls” and “Tonys” (many Tonys) I became suspicious. Why do they have English names, they certainly do not look English? When I inquired a chinese friend on it he told me that they all have English names for english speaking persons.

This struck me as a little bit odd. It basically says “do not even try to pronounce my real name because you won’t get it right anyway”, even if the guy is called Kim. Come on! It’s not your real name, you do not look like a Tony and I can (or at least try to) say Kim — so where’s the problem?

It is a little bit as if I met a Chinese and said “Hi, for you I’m called Tao”.

One question remains, is Tony called José in Spain?


Written by jk

September 5, 2007 at 10:30 am

Posted in english, London, UK

3 Responses

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  1. chinese people generally have english names because:

    1. people of other nationalities mangle their chinese names, so an english name is easier to pronounce as well as to remember.

    2. connotes the extent of their education; previously only english-educated chinese people had english names, though in recent times this does not apply anymore.

    3. the trend has continued from generation to generation, it’s a convention among chinese people to name their kids with one english name, along with their chinese name.

    i’m chinese, i have two english names on my birth certificate. but i use my chinese name and not my english names.


    September 5, 2007 at 2:07 pm

  2. Oh, thanks for your explanations. I nearly added to the post “maybe a chinese reader could comment on that”!
    So, the english name seems to be not just a mere gesture but it is deeper rooted.


    September 5, 2007 at 3:59 pm

  3. The sand in my pants reminds me of “Kelly”. 🙂


    September 15, 2007 at 10:47 am

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