Monday, July 28, 2008

Chinese Students' English Names (Hilarity Abound)

Most of our students at camp already have English names from previous English courses. I’ve had to name a few, and gave them names that were special to me—and also what I thought were very American: Brandon (after my beloved, of course), Rachel (after my friend from Ohio and my new friend here from Boston), and Nikki (one of my best friends in Columbus).

Now some of these English names are wildly nonsensical. Rachel and I have ascertained that sometimes words/names are chosen based on meanings or sounds that resemble their Chinese names, regardless of whether they're actual English names. Several are random words that are barely English at all. Here are some of the best we’ve seen so far.

• Lemon (boy)
• Black (boy)
• Red (boy)
• Jany (girl)
• Lily (girl--this is very popular for some reason)
• Pinking (girl--what?!)
• Candy (girl)
• Cookie (girl—spelled “Cicy”)
• Bean (boy—no, I did not give my boyf’s nickname to a Chinese student!)
• Even (girl)
• Kitty (girl—also very popular)
• Zooma (boy)
• Dragon (boy)
• Lala (girl)
• Go-go (girl)
• Toshi (boy)
• Cherry (girl—popular)
• Peddy (girl)
• Winnie (girl—she told me, “like Winnie the Pooh!”)
• Grammy (girl)
• Marry (no, not like “Mary,” but as in “husband-wife union”)

Even Microsoft Word and Blogger are catching these. Not English Names.

Here’s the absolute chart-topper: right now I have a male student named Insect. A little difficult to call on him without laughing. Rachel says there isn’t really a Chinese syllable that sounds like it, so I’m not sure where it came from. Or do I really want to know...

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