22 August 2011

Why do Chinese often ‘adopt’ Western names?

Why do Chinese often ‘adopt’ Western names? It is a question that has always puzzled me. Many of the Chinese that I have met have a Western name, not all but many. Occasionally they have a name that surprises me such as “Minnie”, “Apple” or “Edna”…How did they come to choose such a name? I have searched on several forums on the Internet and have found no satisfactory answer. I found lots of speculation but no real answers. Does anyone have a good answer or explanation?

Just for fun if you want the transliteration of your name in Chinese here is a tool for you. Find this at Chinese-Tools.com. One more tool on the same site is a Chinese Calligraphy Editor where you new found hanzi name can be rendered into calligraphy font. 

Here is what the first tool came up with for my name:
Jonathan 乔纳森 (Qiáo nà sēn)

Here is the second tool came up with: 

 Now I really hope that these tools have given me an accurate transliteration of my name. I can only hope that my name has not been translated into the Chinese equivalent of “Rupert”, “Percival” or “Two dogs”. 

Just to check there is another blog that I often read.  A site called "Hanzi Matter" a site dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters in western culture. "Hanzi Matter" has tattoos, signs, clothing and more with incorrect Chinese hanzi and Japanese Kanji.  So just to be safe I am going to have my new name in hanzi Jonathan 乔纳森  checked out before I have it tattooed across my body.

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