Lost in translation.

Chinese people here often pick an English name, which is a very considerate gesture. In return, us ‘gweilo’ which literally translates to white ghost or foreign devil, but just means caucasian, often return the favor by selecting a Chinese name. The main difference being we actually call them by their English names and our Chinese names mainly exist on the back sides of our business cards… the Mr. has a Chinese name that his assistant and colleauge worked very hard on. Not only do the words themselves stand for prosperity and nobility, but it has a lucky number of strokes. It also sounds somewhat similar to his actual name.

Not only do many names women chose here very closely ressemble stripper names, but there is often a lot of confusion around which names are appropriate for men versus women. It seems they often just pick any English word they know whether it be the name of their country or their favorite snack. Here are some of my favorites:

Puzzle. Milky. Candy. China. Esprit. Jello. Cinderella. Balthazar. Verna. Comma. Ginger. Panda. Yoyo.

My friend Maddy and I were talking about this–she works in an otherwise all local office and here’s what she had to say about her co-workers:

“The best would be if Rex Ho and Kinki Yip got married, because then her name would be Kinki Ho. So immature, but I can’t help but think about it!¬†Also, one of my clients names is Apple Mandy so we had a whole day discussing why that is weird. I have also explained how even though Aaron can be for a boy and Erin is for a girl, Ethan is for a boy only and there is not girl version haha.”

It can be pretty funny, but of course you have to keep a straight face because these people are nice enough to accomodate our complete lack of language abilities.

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One response to “Lost in translation.

  1. Well, I laughed out loud at this.

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