Blazing Saddles! The speed at which you read all that and commented and yet seemed to miss the entire point was impressive Sacha.
Seek clarification on Ben’s point. Illustrate my understanding of the topic to date, provide some triggering examples, restate the question. Promote discussion on this living parchment.
BTW, I've been hooked on the Access posts since your initial post, they're what roped me back to the site, for better or worse. I've nothing to contribute, but my mind has been blown on a number of occasions reading them.
And that's my annual word quota.
I think people choosing their own names is fine by me.
That’s a very liberal answer Ben, but I’d be interested as to where you draw the line. We’ve touched on a number of examples, triggered by Deyi “Stone” Shi, and the Companies Office left wanting, as Stephen R pointed out this is not always as easy as it sounds.
As Moz said;
For more difficult names it’s easier to just pick a local name and be done with it,
Luke has to date used two names in the work place, and is free to choose again in the future I assume. This in itself is harmless, accountability wouldn’t seem to be so important in that environment. However were he a lawyer, a financier, a doctor, an engineer, a member of the police force etc. then I’d feel considerably safer knowing there was recourse for any of the above and others to provide their legal name when solicited in a professional context. Perhaps this is already the case.
Soon Lee on the other hand has largely retained his given name. And although this has limited the chances of being short-listed for job interviews, this decision has decreased the chances of him finding himself employed in a racially hostile environment.
For my own part, Chris pointed out the curse of Chris on the previous page and I’ve also be exposed to the odd Christ on occasion. And I don’t know, to me a name is an identifiable sound or scribble, not some sacred fanfare. Be it an Indian’s or a Southlander’s pronunciation, I’m equally interested in hearing the variation. It’s never the same sound, ever. And I’ll admit that I have a bit of a fetish for seeing it printed in Calibri.
As Chris noted China has always been a bit more flexible than the West with regards to names but when people who would ordinarily use their given name with locals introduce themselves to me with some name they were given in year 6, I’m still on occasion put out. As I’m sure any immigrant will tell you, these racially motivated reminders that you’re not from round these parts tend to get old pretty quick.
Informally, I don’t know if I’d be so happy letting anyone who’d chosen to conceal their real name babysit my child, or even my cat. I know I probably wouldn’t be incredibly amused to find an aquaintance had maintainted a fake name specifically with me without good reason, and I’d most certainly feel pretty disappointed to find that person I’d been with in what I felt was a genuine relationship had likewise assumed an alias, because they chose to.
A paragraph of hypotheticals but I think it’s safe to say we all draw the line somewhere.
That link Stephen R posted reminded me of how at work, my interaction with students is pretty limited, I hear them speak, and whatever name they’ve chosen is on the screen. At the conclusion of a class I grade them and write their report. If they happen to choose to change their name mid-class and if I happen to miss that then that’s me now writing an additional report to the CR department on another website.
But that is online, a more fluid reserve, and though there are those who would have us forced to use our given names on the net, I am in no way an advocate of this, I appreciate the freedom of expression it enables, and I say that sincerely in a way only Russell can truly appreciate.
I recall an instance once Ben where you asked me if me and Chris Waugh were the same person. I answered honestly to the best of my knowledge. I felt that to be a common courtesy.
Communal etiquette imposes expectations people largely conform to. Where cultures meet and merge exists the opportunity for both exploitation and examining our own culture with a broader scope. In doing so we may more clearly comprehend which limitations are imposed by necessity and which are merely folly.
So I’m genuinely interested in your answer here:
Where do you draw the line?
No complaints here. Life is good.
I’m glad to hear that Soon Lee. The thing that struck me in that Auckland University Business School study is that I’d be hard pressed to name a country without some form of this type of discrimination or similar, at least until multiculturalism really kicks in.
I tend not to be complimented on my English anymore.
That’s always a good start, and I’m guessing you wouldn’t get too many New Zealanders introducing themselves to you as 李小龍, due to, y’know, you looking a bit like a 李小龍 to them, and them assuming you’d appreciate that.
But if such an unlikely thing were to occur, and you were to complain about this special service, I also doubt very much that you’d be dealt much in the way of remonstration along the lines of “check that yellow privilege a notch or two” from folk back home. =)
Thanks for your reply Soon Lee, I’m sure New Zealand still has a long way to go, but you pave the way, and though that is certainly not as easy, it is courageous and necessary in the bigger picture.
Your post rather begs the question, how is your life going?
Thanks for joining this tangent Chris, obviously I don’t wish to derail Russell’s thread here, hopefully people are okay skipping bits, mine, but I found your post both fascinating and informative.
Is it that many? I didn’t realise. But how does one get such a precise number of total languages
I may have fudged the number, wikipedia cited – Languages of China – from Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International.
I found the wording on the Ethnologues site quite vivid.
The number of individual languages listed for China is 298. All are living languages. Of these, 15 are institutional, 23 are developing, 100 are vigorous, 128 are in trouble, and 32 are dying.
A specific figure was not so important as much as getting us into the ballpark. Through exposure we’re becoming accustomed to many of the English diaphones across both native and foreign accents e.g. dental fricatives /ð/ (as in them) /θ/ (thing) may become sibilants [s], [z], /v/ to /w/, /n/ to /l/, aspirated /h/ etc. So hearing a couple of Hunan chaps refer to their province as Funan, /h/ pronounced /f/ was a revelation to me in terms of the variation one could expect in these unalphabetized languages.
China has always been a bit more flexible than the West in such things, hasn’t it?
Absolutely, and so with regards to ‘Luke’ being unkeen to hear us butcher the name his parents gave him, I’d be as inclined to believe that as much as he simply enjoys the sound of the name or he’s a Star Wars fan.
Chinese do that in part through the adoption of different names for different situations in both their online and offline lives
Obviously with regards to online names that could be classed as a global phenomenon but I think what I’ve been grasping for here is that despite this fluidity informally, in most formal situations, and perhaps in spite of this plasticity, China seems far more stringent compared to New Zealand which seems either ill-equipped or under prepared to handle the inconsistencies being presented.
To register a company in China, foreigners will need to provide copies of Directors’ Passports, there would seem to be no legal dispensation for registering companies under separate names as seems to be the case with
Deyi Shi, known to his friends as Stone
As another example, though globally known as Jackie Chan, the Chinese language media will use 成龍 and very occasionally his birth name 陳港生, but never (as far as I’m aware) the Chinese equivalent of Jackie or at least Jack as I know it to be Jié kè 杰克. He is as recognizably 成龍 in the mainland as he is Jackie Chan to us.
Contrast that with a stuff.co.nz search for either ‘Qian Xun Xue’ or ‘Pumpkin’ and the headlines are all over the show:
The fact that ‘Pumpkin’ isn’t even mentioned in this last article is problematic. Evidence of this inability to adequately present a coherent narrative is compounded over at The Age where Nai Yin Xue is referred to as Nai Yun Xue and even Nai Zin Xue in the photo caption.
It’s almost as if it’s been placed in the Too Hard basket and as such expectations and standards have become incredibly lax.
Sorry, while quickly editing I deleted a bunch of paragraphs that probably summed up my attitude more clearly, it was something along the lines of:
As China has opened further and as our window of understanding has expanded, I have noticed a decrease in the use of these alternative names. And I’m sure in the next generation this shift will be even more pronounced.
I’m impressed that you have a workplace where most of your number are comfortable using their given names Bart, that you are creating a climate whereby immigrants feel comfortable using their own names, that to me is as it should be.
If I seemed to take shining to Luke, it’s that living here, and having been told countless times that I must have a Chinese name, and having never done so except in a legal capacity, I guess I’ve become fairly tolerant of others’ mispronunciation. To me It’s just a fact of life when moving from country to country, from speaker to speaker that not everyone in this world will be capable of saying my name as I’d like to hear it. this comes part and parcel with most immigration.
What grabbed me in Luke’s example was not that he’d always asked to be called Luke, but that at a certain point he’d decided he could no longer tolerate your pronunciation of his name in this workplace (how many of you have let the side down here is unclear ;). And that perhaps in another workplace where everyone could pronounce his name correctly he may allow his given name to be used. Which could be complicated to any potential employers reviewing referees etc. But merely hypothetical.
Mostly my response to your example is informed by years of Chinese telling me what I can and cannot say, where I can and can not live, what I must be called on official documents, observing locals (usually family members, sometimes colleagues) telling one another what they can and can not say or do, what they must study, where they must work, who they can not marry, and the Government telling people how many children they can have, where they can and cannot live etc that it’s no longer possible for me to clearly distinguish between the motivation behind the pervasive control mechanisms that these various agent employ. This tendency to dictate terms seems culturally ingrained.
That Luke’s decision to change was due to intolerance of the butchery of his name, despite coming from a country which has 8 official, and a total of 292 languages, struck me as quite selective. it’s naturally his right to decide, and naturally mine to be incredulous as to his justification. if I may be allowed to.
Sorry, there has been some misunderstanding Bart. I’ll just try to clear that up.
As I said:
Likewise my wife, reading your post stumbled on:
When she read your post, she responded. Looking back at it:
"Incidentally, and this is a pet gripe, I’m a little tired of Chinese giving me these phoney names on the pretext that I wouldn’t be able to pronounce their Chinese name
Well, bully for you Chris. Perhaps you’d like to check that white privilege a notch or two, and consider those Anglicized names can be a more pleasant alternative than having your name offensively mispronounced on a daily basis.
That you included both my and Craig’s quote, it’s not unreasonable to assume you shared his view verbatim. Looking at it now, I’m a little unclear as to what “same” meant, but as I said, when my wife read your post, that is what she saw and said, and as such that kind of set a tone.
Also sorry that my questions were rather wordy, but I appreciate you taking the time to answer, I guess I should probably quickly respond. As I said from the outset
“Having said that, I don’t expect anyone to change their name for me, or stick to using one name because I said so, I simply don’t trust any of these two-faced pseudonym wearers. because.”
In the context of a discussion on De yi “Stone” Shi, registering one company under the name “Deyi Shi” and its subsidiary company under the name “Stone Shi”. My primary motivation in posting is with regards to the ways this cultural trend’ can be exploited.
I understand you may have missed that, it was jammed in the middle of a long post. but certainly, there’s no argument from me with regards to anyone’s rights to choose what they want to called, that’s their right, just as it’s mine not to trust someone for whatever reason. I took that to be what aggravated Craig and I wasn’t quite sure about yours. It would seem that it was Craig and Craig alone who wished to bring “white privilege” into the discussion. Personally I’m of the type that is strongly opposed to the restrictions the DIA imposes on people choosing to legally change their name to whatever.
With regards to your answer to question 3 here, I’m embarrassed to bring this up, but it may save misinterpretation in the future, I was one of those wacky preteens diagnosed with an adult reading age, and I do as such still read comments carefully. Your posted stated:
We have other Chinese colleagues who choose to use their given names
Which could cover all your Chinese colleagues, but I was asking about everyone in your work place:
And similarly, how many of your colleagues made these stipulations? Or is it just Luke?
With regards to this:
Overall your attitude suggests you have a right to choose what name another person chooses to use. I personally disagree.
A quote to accompany such a summary dismissal may be helpful if that was more than a misunderstanding Bart. Obviously my tongue in cheek use of a pseudonym at the end of that initial post may have been a bit too oblique.
Anyway, I’ve long enjoyed your contributions here Bart, and just as I won’t hear of your insinuating that I insist what anyone call themselves, I likewise have no wish for bad blood to flow between these distant shores.
And having spieled my tits off but hopefully not derailed the thread, last Saturday I was relieved when a student who’d alphabetized her name as Fuk asked me instead to address her as Julia.
Alcohol and tobacco may have just as bad/worse physiological effects as cannabiniods, but they have also been around a lot longer. As such, they have a greater social significance
Certainly within recent memory. but we're still comparing substances that have been used recreationally for 1000s of years
and which all enjoyed degrees of social significance until a century ago
..and sorry about the interruption I was just off hocking muskets and spreading smallpox. But your case has made me quite interested in how ‘Lukes’ pronunciation demands are being applied in this case:
My Chinese colleague at work chooses to use Luke because he is understandably unkeen to hear us butcher the name
You mentioned you work with Chinese colleagues and so I guess my first question would be with regards to the ‘us’ referred to.
1. Has Luke made the decision that in the workplace he’d rather never hear his given name pronounced as his parents intended (as surely some other Chinese colleagues may be capable of) if it also means being subjected to nuanced pronunciation? Is it just Luke?
2. Is it more akin to one country two systems whereby he’s using two names in the workplace and those who are capable of pronouncing his name correctly are deemed worthy of doing so, and if so, does this “allow” list feature any non-Chinese, or is the pronunciation by non-Chinese of equal cause for disdain across the group? and if this is the case, how do conversations run when he’s referred to in the third person? Or is it just Luke?
3. How are second-language and even native English speaking staff pronouncing your name Bart, have you ever felt your name being butchered to such an extent that you’ve informed them that their pronunciation is so far removed from your parent’s model that you’ve insisted on an alternative handle. And similarly, how many of your colleagues made these stipulations? Or is it just Luke?
Sorry if those questions are a bit of a handful, call it curiosity. I’m subjected to mispronunciation of my name on a daily basis but I’ve never been offended when effort is made let alone reached the point where I’ve decided that certain peoples’ pronunciation is so abjectly poor that they no longer be permitted to even attempt my name and must be relegated to addressing me by an assumed name.
Likewise my wife, reading your post stumbled on:
check that white privilege a notch or two
And quite passionately exclaimed that its nothing to do with white, black or yellow. And I’m inclined to agree; skin hue would seem to play a limited role in one’s ability to enunciate. For her part, She said she’d far rather people use her inherited given game, mispronounced or not, than be pressured to assume one of these dumbed-down Anglicized appropriations, because that’s her name. I can see her point.
But back to work, I’ve never met any of my colleagues, we are located worldwide and our names reflect this. Working online also means we never speak, we merely type and read. Except for the Chinese staff in our company i assume everyone else is using their given name. With regards to my Chinese colleagues I’ve made numerous inquiries as to who I’m actually working with and why they refuse to provide their real names, and furthermore I’ve inquired as to how this idiosyncrasy benefits teachers who are required to pronounce student names from myriad languages as a matter of course. I have thus far (one year later) received no response from our manager.
His name is Neo.