Strange Taiwanese Names

Taiwanese children receive a bunch of names. They get a Chinese name and an English name. Some Taiwanese parents have strange ideas about the English names; they put together strange sounds, most probably in a language they don’t speak that well. Getting an English name is common for Chinese people, whether it’s Taiwanese, from Hong Kong or the bigger Chinese cities. I can’t say if all Chinese give their kids English names. It’s possible and probable, but an unverified assumption.

I was first made aware of this fact when I tried finding information on some HK actors that I liked. I was initially confused by the different names, but then understood the reason. When the children interact with westerners or English speaking people, they will always use their English names. Even though those aren’t their real names, the names that they usually use every day. It must get confusing for the kids. Most school in Taiwan use the English names, but the Taiwanese teachers will use the Chinese names. The parents must use the Chinese names as well.

Only people who can’t speak Mandarin will use the foreign names in a regular fashion. After I while, I knew the Chinese names of some of my students, but not all of them. Is it a way of isolating westerners, or just making life easier for them or just a cultural thing?

Person, from Mu
Elin pronounced Eh-Leen. I keep calling her Eileen, because of the song Come on Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners.
Alva, but it’s cute and the girl is cute as well. It’s strange to name a little girl like that.
Vivi. Can easily sound like something else that isn’t all that nice.
Vydney, her sister is named Sydney. The older sister got the better deal!
Anferny, again just like Jagery, two sounds put together that create a new name. This was a girl’s name, and she was in her twenties.
Author pronounced Oh-thor I think, but I could never pronounce it right because the kids couldn’t enunciate well enough.

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Alexander Kiel

Author: range

I'm mathematician/IT strategist/blogger from Canada living in Taipei.

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