Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Something I Think Is Cool #3

This article on the politics of Anglicizing your name. Courtesies of angryasianman.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's an interesting article. I sort of wanted more from it, though I understand that it's an article, not an essay, and that there are space constraints and all that.

I often wonder if I would Anglicize my name if it were harder to pronounce... I doubt it, but I don't know. I knew a lot of people in high school whose real names I *never* knew... people who never even mentioned that they had other names. After our screening of "The Color of Fear" (I'll have to tell you about that sometime), Le Mun Wah had us all tell our partners our real names... it was an excercise I sort of wish I'd been able to do earlier in life, since I already knew the real names of all of the people in Ops (except for Justine, who does not like her real name nor wish to be called by it).... Andy, Althea, Curtis... names one didn't have to think much about. The only one that might give a person pause was Anchulee Julie Raongthum... but Julie really is her middle name, and her parents chose it because they liked it, not because it sounds like Anchulee to people with no idea how to pronounce Thai names (and only her family calls her Julie anyway - she goes by Anchulee to everyone else).

Hrm... do you have a Japanese name? I was always under the impression that you didn't (or that if you did it wasn't so much that you anglicized your name as that you shortened it), but I also realize that I don't know for sure.

-Jam

kvr said...

forgive the simple knee-jerk response, since i'm sick and things seem to be tragic in my brain today...

this article strikes me as rather angsty and narrowminded for someone who presents himself as coming from such a strong community. since when was being asian-american so far from being american? why is his expression of vietnamese-roots-ness via name so important? why so intolerant of ignorant others?

and, most importantly, why haven't i made your links list yet???

eddylane2081 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daniel said...

Email me! I have no other friends here :)

Daniel said...

But seriously... In a sensible world, this is the kind of topic that would be completely meaningless, above the practicalities of a person choosing their own name and a few people having problems pronouncing it. Sad that it isn't.

lovelesscynic said...

In answer to Jamaica's question, I do have a Japanese name, but it's my middle name. However, in my grandparents' generation you often find out that people you've called by a name all their life actually named themselves that. For example my grandfather goes by George but apparently his real name is Joji, and my grandmother goes by Amy, but her real name is Yemi. It is interesting that people often have another side to them. I often wonder here, with white guys who date Taiwanese women and don't speak Chinese what it's like to date someone who's "real" name, aka Chinese name you probably don't even know.

In response to Katie's comment, you probably haven't read the article very carefully since the writer is a woman. Not a man. Also growing up in an area with lots of Asians, particularly in our generation, there's lots of things like that happen. For a while in high school, I went by my Japanese name, and eventually changed back, because I found people start to assume very different things about you. It's a pain to have to spell your name, more people assume that you are foreign born. Everyone mispronounces your name. They sound like very small things but after a while, like most things they start to wear on you. I know people on both sides of the line, people who have kept their Asian names as first names and then those kids named John Lee and Jenny Kim, and most people on the West Coast know one or 13. Unfortunately, like the writer points out, the Anglicization of other names tends not to be particularly accurate and can lead to people having names like Dong or worse. It also creates more ways to mispronounce names. We'll probably have to agree to disagree. You don't have to like it if I do, but keep in mind that having the name that you do, you probably have not had the same experiences as she has. After going by my Japanese name, my perspective about names changed a lot simply because of the experiences that I had. Clearly the pressure is there because people even in Taiwan feel compelled to have an English name. You don't have to like it but it does happen.

kvr said...

Yikes. I knew I was about to get schooled once I said that things were pretty tragic in my brain. I think we will have to agree to disagree. Le sigh.

lovelesscynic said...

Katie, you know me better than to make remarks about race, and not get a lengthy response from me.

In response to your more important question, I haven't added you because I'm lazy and changing the template is a pain, I'll do it soon though.