English names

I realize that in many cultures the choosing of a name is an important thing. It represents the person (and possibly his/her parents desires for them) throughout their life. Therefore, you want to choose a name that is at the same time unique and meaningful.

However, I’ve been a little taken aback by some of the English names that have been chosen by my students and others I see around Taipei. Some of my favorites so far have been: Victory (male), Linus, Bright (again, male), Agnes, and Rasheed.

If Victory were Victor, I could understand. Though, along with Agnes and Linus, it seems like an outdated name. Of course, Taiwanese wouldn’t know that. Bright, on the other hand, isn’t even a name. At least, I’ve never read a Baby Name book or heard of someone named Bright (with the exception of a family name). As for Rasheed, not to be racist, but I guess my image of a Rasheed is either Indian or African-American, not Taiwanese.

Anyone else have any thoughts, comments, etc… on the name game? Or, do you have any other unusual names you’ve seen or heard of?

Just wondering…


Well, I’ve had students named Rot, Elvis, Twist, Rover and my all-time favorite: Spot. His reason? “I have a spot on my head.”

Several years ago I was giving new names to a class and decided to name everyone after characters in “Lord Of The Rings”…Gimli Wang, Bilbo Wu, etc…

I have commented on this for so long…yes, the reason that a Chinese takes an English name varies, but generally it is so that his English-speaking counterparts can more easily call him by “name.”
The names you list are not so bad in the scheme of things I have seen. I’ve met Weenie, Zero, Kanebo, Goofy and Rainbow among others I can recall off the top of my head. We even have a legislator named Apollo.
These are just plain stupid.
The Chinese who name themselves absurd names should be told that the name is not suitable and makes the English-language native speaker uncomfortable. Foreign English teachers should refrain from giving kids or young adults gag-names…unless, of course, you don’t respect them.
I mean, Nimrod is a name from the Bible, but would you seriously consider naming your own child that?

“Hi, I’m Nimrod Chen. Ready to seal that big deal? Oh, where are my manners, let me introduce my associates. This is Platupus Huang – he’s in sales; Knobby Chen, no relation, ha ha! – he’s in public relations; Snowflake Lin – she’s also in PR; and finally, our president, Mr. Binky Oh.”

Originally posted by wolf_reinhold: "Hi, I'm Nimrod Chen. Ready to seal that big deal? Oh, where are my manners, let me introduce my associates. This is Platupus Huang -- he's in sales; Knobby Chen, no relation, ha ha! -- he's in public relations; Snowflake Lin -- she's also in PR; and finally, our president, Mr. Binky Oh."

Uhmmm Wolfie baby, what’s wrong with Platupus? It’s a fine, noble moniker worthy of respect and admiration.

Wolf… I realize that they take the names to make it easier for us foreigners to refer to them. I was just curious how they picked these names, where do they find them? And, why hasn’t someone told them the name is silly? In fact, there is a good question, would it be considered rude (making them lose “face”) if I told them they should consider another name?

I actually remembered another one… a student at the university in the US I worked at had chosen Prometheus. He liked the meaning of it, which I now can’t remember.


Check it out.
Wildhorse, Wolf, Fox, Hawk, Dolphin, Dragon (3 of them), Bee, Autoni, Hister, Rallay, Prentent, Angerla, Visualge, Hexy, Passer, Kimblue, Rex (2 of them), Echo, Imagine, Good, Happy, Waggie, Rice, Danish, Jog, Mulan, Woody, Fanny, Fairy, Neeky, Forest, Stone, Thunder, Queenie, Titan, Picaso, Savior, Semigod
This is a list of some of the more interesting first names I found on our local corporate mailing list.
I must say, it makes it easier to remember their names.

I think that they will tell you that they want a name that is “special,” not like Mike or Amy. They see these words or names in books or magazines, look up the meaning and think: “Yeah, that’s for me.”
In the past I have refused to call a person by a name that I felt was too embarassing for that person. Now remember, these people generally chose the name themselves or had it given them long after they were born – it’s not like it’s legally binding or has been with them forever – it can be changed.

“Hey Prometheus, got a light?”

Most Taiwanese people take English names just about as seriously as they take most foreigners(that is, not too seriously). English names are considered stylish, they can use them to impress their Taiwanese friends, and they can mix and match them to suit their moods, sort of like cheap jewelry or the latest mobile phone.

In any case, I’ve already presented my solution to this problem (have to scroll down to see it).

A lot of guys try and translate their Chinese names, so you get various flowers, stuff like bright and I’ve even heard of a girl (did she?) called Swallow. I’ve got an enormous (must be 100KG) 8 year old in one class called Rock.

Lots of Chinese dig the Greek myths so you get Apollo and stuff.

Others look at the name books but really don’t realise the difference between a Michael and a Mergatrude.

Others get named by malicious or at least creative English teachers, hence a class my friend inherited with Scotty, Kirk and Ulhuru.

I personally go with a name that sounds vaguely similar to the Chinese name.


PS I don’t think Chinese take their English names seriously. They seem to change them more often than they shave the hairs on their moles.


Originally posted by Bu Lai En: Others get named by malicious or at least creative English teachers, hence a class my friend inherited with Scotty, Kirk and Ulhuru.

BWAHAHA! I almost blew coke all over my monitor…I hope you helped Scotty with his accent!
Now the big one…was there a Spock?

Now the question…why is it that Chinese feel the need to do this? Indonesians, Japanese, Malaysians, Thais, Vietnamese don’t…

Does anyone know how many aliases Chiang Kai-Shek or Sun Chung-Shan had? And why?

Back in the late 80s, we used to name whole classes with a theme. We had one class that had all the characters from “Gilligan’s Island,” one with “Star Trek,” one with “Lost in Space,” you get the drift. (“Doctor Smith, is Bob the tall boy?”)
I would like to start a thread one day about the differences in “gonzo” teaching between those days and now. We – all the teachers I knew at that time – did some creative/outrageous things in class and in the break room. If the kinds of bizarreness that I recall is still going on, there’s hope for the profession (and the professional shrink…)

This post was moved over from English Translations

Author Topic: English Translations
Member # 2447
Rate Member
. 06-14-2002 12:55

Ok… I just posted something on the choosing of English names by Taiwanese. So, if you are interested, find that thread.
I’ve also noticed that there are some poor and/or horrible translations of Chinese into English around Taipei. The other day, I found the one below. After reading this, I decided to start collecting them. If anyone has any more they want to share, I’d be happy to get them. Please try to provide the situation in which you found it, too.

Oh, before I get a lot of comments… I realize it is hard to translate from one language to another, especially if you aren’t fluent. I’m not trying to criticize, believe me. I just found it amusing.

“A good drink makes you refresh. We carefully did the best selection. They are outstanding among others. We strongly suggest you to taste once its gorgeosness and pleasantness get you dreamy world.”

-drink vending machine, outside CKS Memorial Hall


Posts: 56 | From: Taipei | Registered: Jan 2002 | IP: Logged

There’s only one name that REALLY sticks out in my mind. A student of my mine called himself, “whatever”

Well whatever…


What in the name of Jesus was the rationale in merging the English translations thread with the totally unrelated English name thread?

As moderator, I would have thought you’d be seeking to keep things simple, not to create confusion.

A Chinese teacher at my school said that Chinese people don’t look at their English names as “real” names but as nicknames only. Some of the more interesting ones I’ve heard are Bruce (a girl), Fish, Ethel (isn’t that one from the 1900’s?), Sherlock (a girl), Mermaid and Slitherena. When I took back one of my classes for a second session, two of my students had changed their names. I couldn’t see any improvement in the new names, though.

the most interestingly named person i’ve actually met is “little come (or cum?).” yes, a female high school student. probably from xiaolai, the poor thing…
my wife has a potato(F), a nokia(F), several kings(all M)… i think potato is a cool name, her nickname could be spud!