Personality Cafe banner
1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm from a former British colony and when I was born, the custom was to have the transliteration of your Chinese name, along with an English given name, as your "official" first name. Just to take a totally stereotypical Chinese-sounding name as an example, my official given name might be

"Mei Lin Rebecca" Last name would be "wang"

We also have an official name in Chinese characters which will be "Wang Mei Lin", which is only used in official Chinese contexts, though both appear on passports.

It just so happens that I'm very Americanized and deal primarily with Americans and Europeans. I also hated my WESTERN given name and right before I graduate college and enter another sphere is probably a good time to start being known as something else (like, instead of Rebecca). But because my social circle are usually Westerners, I get absolutely sick of having to explain to Westerners who see "Mei Lin Rebecca" as my given name and call me Mei for whatever weird reason, to call me by my Western given name. That's what it's there for after all.

So I want to apply for an official English given name change, but take the opportunity to get rid of the "Mei Lin" in one fell swoop (my Chinese name in Chinese characters stays), so that my official given name will only have a Western name. The problem is, my parents might be offended... Are parents usually offended? I'm not really rejecting my Chineseness and I think my Chinese given name is pretty great. But it's just nonsensical to have it in the English version where it seems to do nothing but cause confusion.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
4,143 Posts
If you explain well why you want to change your name... Why not? They know you best, they probably understand why your given name is causing you annoyance. Ultimately, this is about communication. Explain to them that you aren't rejecting them by choosing your own name.

Further thoughts: Is it common for people to change their names where you come from? If so, it would make things easier.
 

·
Registered
INTP
Joined
·
1,755 Posts
Well, as always, do what you think you need to do, but I'll say I think it's kind of a weak reason to get an official name change. I live in the US with a name that is very foreign ((immigrant family)) and literally 2% of people will pronounce it correctly on the first try, which is frustrating for me since I have to keep correcting them on how to say it. However, I haven't considered getting a name change all because it creates some inconveniences that are generally brief in nature. A lot of people prefer being called by something that isn't their full name/given name so politely correcting them is something that is always acceptable to do. If you think your Chinese name is great and you hate your western name, why not go by your Chinese name when socializing?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
71 Posts
"A lot of people prefer being called by something that isn't their full name/given name so politely correcting them is something that is always acceptable to do."
This.

I think you must have an idea of how offended your parents will be. I think I get where you're coming from, having an interesting name myself. I enjoy revealing my real name as a way to deepen bonds with a good friend, saving a stock name for everyone else. It's like a little secret that only payroll and I know.

Why would any of your friends be reading your name in print? They just know you as you introduce yourself right? Maybe your name is read aloud in your classes? That'll go away soon enough. Once I finished school, that was never an issue again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Well, as always, do what you think you need to do, but I'll say I think it's kind of a weak reason to get an official name change. I live in the US with a name that is very foreign ((immigrant family)) and literally 2% of people will pronounce it correctly on the first try, which is frustrating for me since I have to keep correcting them on how to say it. However, I haven't considered getting a name change all because it creates some inconveniences that are generally brief in nature. A lot of people prefer being called by something that isn't their full name/given name so politely correcting them is something that is always acceptable to do. If you think your Chinese name is great and you hate your western name, why not go by your Chinese name when socializing?
The name I really dislike is my English given name.

I like my Chinese name in Chinese only. In Chinese it's full of meaning and sounds nice. In English it's just "WTF is that. Why are you named that" because it loses its meaning and now it's just a bunch of meaningless foreign sounding syllables; never mind that people can never pronounce IT correctly. It's in Cantonese, and Cantonese has 8 tones. If you think of how hard it is for an average American to pronounce Mandarin correctly (which has only 4 tones), I don't expect anyone to do Cantonese with any degree of accuracy, nor do I have the right to. So even if they can pronounce "Mei Lin" in English, it sounds nothing like my Chinese name, but some horribly botched, stupid sounding parody; in Chinese tone is SO meaningful, the American attempt at my name will sound and mean as different as "boat" vs. "coat". 0% ever gets mine right of you're strict about what it means to speak Chinese right and it's not even worth it to correct them because it will take perhaps one year of immersion in Cantonese for them to even get close.

So to me, I'd rather be known by Americans and Europeans by ONE beautiful, meaningful Western name (meaningful in that they won't look at it and be afraid to speak to me for fear of mispronouncing my name) of my choice than by called by the ugly half sister of my Chinese name. Sigh. There's probably no way to do this without offending my parents, as my mother seriously thought she picked out a tasteful and beautiful English name for me too because it's a gemstone, but she isn't nearly as good at Western names. She just didn't know the name can be associated with street walkers and drug addicts, like "Candy". If you look at the "behindthename" comment section for this name, that's what many people are saying. It was once a fad name. Now the fad is over.
 

·
Spotlight March 2016
Joined
·
8,193 Posts
That's sad. It's a beautiful name. I'd tell you not to change a pretty letter of it.

I like the name Rebecca too, it's quite pretty. Although, I'm not sure if this is the name, or if it's just an example? I've never heard of it being associated with such ilk. Unless you mean, "Becky," in which case... I dunno. I guess you could ?

I think Rebecca is a fancy/sophisticated kind of name.

An option is to change your Chinese name a bit to make it more Americanized, if you wanted to. I would hate to see that, though, but it's an option, anyways.

So, instead of Rebecca, it would be May, or May-Lynn? I mean, I've always thought May is a lovely name, but... I'm not really sure what you're asking here, necessarily. :/

I just hope you find a solution that works for you! And I hope it involves getting to keep your Chinese name.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
^"Rebecca" and "Mei Lin" are not my actual names... I didn't want to disclose my actual name. These were just used as examples of what my name could look like.

Long story short, my English name has "hooker" and "street walker" and "junkie" connotations. Google "Hooker names" or "stripper names" and mine usually comes up :/ Right now my passport name is something LIKE

Given: "Mei Lin Rebecca"
Family: "Wang"

If I like, say, "Tiffany" more than "Rebecca", I want my official name to be

Given: "Tiffany"
Family: "Wang"
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,428 Posts


I admire people who keep their complicated foreign names instead of disfiguring them for an easier pronunciation, but I also hate mispronunciation and understand very well that you don't want to suffer until the end of your days from benevolent Westerners struggling with the difficulties arising from the eight tones.

When people in Asia use a Western first name in order to simplify life for the foreigner I am always disappointed. Am I not entitled to a minimum of exoticism when abroad? Then I usually choose a first name of the local language for me.

I like the idea of cleaning up your first name and finally getting rid of the unloved Western name. Long names are best because they are more difficult to miss – there were too many false alarms in my schooldays because my short foreign name sounds like an auxiliary verb. I think a nice first name should have at least three syllables.

Tell your parents that you are a blend of your ancestors and that your decision is consequently influenced by your ancestors but optimized for the world of today and for your future publications. And if you don't like your given Western name today you will never like it and suffer from it till death.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
117 Posts
Hi, I'm also Chinese. I have my English name but I put it as the way of English Name+Last Name, it would be Rebecca Wang in your case.

If you think there's a need to change your name, you definitely have the right to do so, though I don't think there's a need as in my own perspective. There are people up saying how beautiful is the name and you should embrace it, and indeed Rebecca is a beautiful name but how do you value this name is really much down to your own judgement. Some Chinese people give themselves names which are considered wired in Westerner's eyes but creative in Chinese people's eyes. I've seen people named themselves Rainbow, Circle, Riccardo(the person does not have italian parents).... so you see it's totally fine if you would like to change your name, since how you value your name is really just your own evaluation. There are even Chinese people change their given name, it's rare thou', but what they concern more is the inconvenience that will happen after changing names - you have to tell all your friends you are changing your name and they have to change the way they call you.

Your environment may make you harder to change your name. Do try to communicate? Sorry to be cliche but ... yea, communication ...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,530 Posts
If you want to change your Western name and rid of your Chinese name, it's your decision. Your parents will always know you by your Chinese name. They won't love you less.


I added my Western name (placed before my Chinese name) when I became a US citizen a few years ago. Before that my official name was only Chinese name but everyone knew me by my Western name.

Now my Chinese given name is an initial mostly. However I have my full Chinese name on credit cards and documents; less chance of identity theft.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
The problem is, my parents might be offended... Are parents usually offended? I'm not really rejecting my Chineseness and I think my Chinese given name is pretty great. But it's just nonsensical to have it in the English version where it seems to do nothing but cause confusion.
So if i have this right, you want a way to reconcile what could be termed, perhaps clumsily, as an inescapable cultural or spiritual heritage with the necessity of the present times?

I changed my name for similar reasons (although I am Colonial European), but from one old European name to another equally old European name that, for some reason, people think is new and American - go figure. My old name sounds great spoken by someone who has the accent and knowledge to speak Gaelic, but terrible in accented modern English. It's like people have their mouths full of mud. Not only that, but my old name had recently attracted a nasty cultural stereotype. I don't know how that happens, but it does, and there's no escaping it, and until someone experiences it they don't realise how destructive it can be.
My family did not react well, but there are other reasons for that than just a name change. What was more important was how it felt to me, and after some searching I discovered that I had not transgressed any cultural or spiritual heritage of my own and that the spirit of my ancestors was alive and well in me, or wherever it is they dwell nearby.
By your description I suspect that regardless of how your parents may intially react, there is a good chance they will immediately grasp the necessity of the times and be supportive of your choices.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,533 Posts
Change it to toloula or badger or a symbol like #
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,248 Posts
@Persephone,

What if you made "[Western name you like more than Rebecca]" your legal first name, and "Mei Lin" your legal middle name? Then everyone reading your whole name would automatically call you "Rebecca", but you would retain all the Chinese aspects of your name.

(I suspect that the people who are saying "Mei" are trying to be polite and are just unaware that your Western name is for common usage and that "Mei Lin" is a two-word name. I work at a school in the US and we have students with all sorts of combinations of Asian (and other ethnicities of course) and Western names - some who have an Asian first and last name and go by that, some who have a completely Western name, some who have an Asian name but go by a Western nickname, some who have a two-word Asian name, some who have mixed Asian and Western names, and so on... and some students even have up to three middle names, so it's not always easy to tell when someone has a two-word name versus an additional middle name. Due to all these variations it can be very hard to guess what to call someone if you are unfamiliar with the culture's naming conventions!)
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top