Friday, February 22, 2008

The Chinese and their English names

Britney has obviously made an impression on young, Chinese girls.

The other day I went to the hairdresser, and while I was getting my hair washed I overheard one of the hairdressers calling someone else:

-Jonna, Jonna, can you come over here??

I felt kind of strange, seeing that my head was literally in a sink. But she definitely said my name, meaning… I should go??

The girl who washed my hair, Tina, had to gently push me back down when I tried to emerge the sink. Seeing that I am one of the few “Jonnas” that I know in China (and, in the rest of the world too?!) Tina knew my name, and told me that they weren’t actually calling for me, but for a Chinese hairdresser who’s English name just also happens to be… JONNA.

I couldn’t help feeling a tab bit flattered when I asked how she got the name and Tina replied that she didn’t know, however, that I am their only Jonna-customer, so maybe she was inspired…

When the Chinese are starting to take MY name you know things are going well for China!!

But speaking of name. There are a few odd ones. During my time in China I have met:

1 Cotton
1 Panda
40 Britneys
2 Chocolate
1 Rainbow
1 Spring
1 Rama

I’ve also given out an English name to a horseback riding instructor. We were chatting, and when he told me he didn’t have any English name, I felt obliged to call him Luke. He seemed happy about it, until I told him ‘Luke’ is the name of a famous Western cartoon. I am not sure if he kept the name.

But worse of the worse, is one Chinese girl we came across at a cafeteria. She was serving us tea and muffins when I looked at her name badge only to find her name was… Swallow.

Yes, Swallow. SWALLOW?! My God! How about consulting with a native speaker before you get yourself an English name?

However, Swallow is also a kind of bird. Let’s hope that’s the one she was opting for!

Dirty thoughts, go away...

1 comment:

thetrystero said...

the auspicious and exhorbitant 燕窝 (bird's nest soup) is harvested from the swallow's nest, hence making perfect sense for a name in China.