2011-05-31

Taiwan’s Creative International Names

In Taiwan as in other places in Asia, many teens and young adults enjoy choosing so-called ‘English names’ for themselves. The names are of course drawn from any number of languages, including Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Spanish, Italian, French, Persian, Russian, Japanese and Korean. What the names provide is a travel handle, an international name for use in environments where toned languages are not the norm. Speakers of toned languages often don’t care for the way their original names sound when the tones are omitted, which inevitably happens when they travel. Many of those who don’t mind still avail themselves of the opportunity to be creative.

Some names relate to the bearer’s Taiwanese, Mandarin, Hakka or Austronesian name. The popularity of the names Amy and Vivian owes to their similarity to many original given names. Some names, like Tingting, are obviously riffs on names or nicknames. Other names keep meanings rather than sounds. The word for family often appears in names for girls. Sometimes the name is directly translated into English and used. While saying the word ‘Family’ and seeing only one person look back can take some getting used to for foreigners, what is happening is just an English-language version of a normal tradition here in Taiwan. A corresponding tradition in many other countries is to name a girl Felicity or Felicia. Both names signify a happy home life.

In their teen years English-language students pick up and drop names rather frequently. They approach it more as anyone might approach creating an avatar name for an electronic game. The situation becomes a bit more serious for college-age students who are preparing for work or study abroad. The names they choose will be those that appear on official documents and, for the musicians, on concert programs and posters. It’s time to settle into a name that will serve the bearer well through a variety of situations. Taiwanese students are often well aware that many standard given names have been attached to Chinese surnames, resulting in any number of Amy Lees and Vivian Chens. Young professionals in Taiwan today often try to adopt something creative and memorable. They prefer to take a few chances.

Interests are, of course, well represented. This can be anything from a favourite colour to a favourite entertainer to a favourite art form or brand. When I first arrived in Taiwan I often had exchanges like the following:

‘Why did you choose the name Green?’
‘I like green.’

‘Why did you choose the name Cloud?’
‘I like clouds.’

‘Why did you choose the name Skeleton?’
‘I like skeletons.’

I had so many exchanges like these when I first arrived that I now no longer ask. When I meet a colleague named Jack Daniels, I know why.

Then there’s this exchange that took place with a female college student when I first arrived.

She: ‘My English name is Rich.’
Me: ‘You know Rich is often a man’s name, don’t you? Short for Richard?’
‘I know. That’s OK. I will keep this name.’
‘Why did you choose Rich?’
Big smile. ‘Because I like to be rich.’

She still is.

A name is always a personal thing. I meet many people here who enjoy the opportunity to choose their identity rather than have one chosen for them by parents, with or without assistance from fortune tellers. Sometimes they enjoy creative spellings, as when Pola, Caren and Joyce decided to take paths less travelled. And partnerships sometimes play a role. I’ve seen a string quartet take the names Green, Blue, Yellow, and Pink and a conversation group with Sun, Moon, and Star.

Here is a list of some names my Taiwanese acquaintances have chosen. Share the fun! I will add to this list as more names catch my eye.


Women

Albee
Anastasia
Anyway
Apple
Aquanetta
Berna
Birdy
Breal
Cherry
Chocolate
Cipher
Cloud
Cloudy
Danika
Dearjane
Denika
Dingding
Dolphin
Elegance
Eleven
Eleven-Eleven
E J
Evans
Family
Fendi
Firenze
Fish
Fish Fish
Flap Flap
Ghost
Gilthoniel
Harmony
Ina
Inky
Jane Jane
Jubi
Kids
Mini (a petite woman)
Minimini
Momo
Mos
Musicsin
Nitrogen
Novia
Oboe
Pandora
Pency
Pipa
Pon Pon
Pongpong
Ponny
Pudding
QQ
Rabbit
Rain
Rainy
Rich
Ruru
Scheherazade
Shine
Silverfish
Simba
Skeleton
Sky
Sony
Spirit
Star
Stitch
Tangie
Tingting
Tubi
Venus


Men

Amp
Banjo
Black
Brad Pitt
Cheney
Curry
Dallas
Dante
Fifty Cent
G Eazy
Haoger
Hawk
Hot Dog
Jack Daniels
Kobe
Moon
Neo
Night Owl
Nightism
Ninja Turtle
Nylon
Orange
Pascal
Picasso
Pinball
Rakers
Ratio
Reliance
Seaweed
Soccer
Starbuck
Swagger
Sun
Tango
Thursday
Tiger
Waiting
Wobbles
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2011-05-21

New Photography Exhibit

邀請您You are invited.

After Dark




相遇 Les Rencontres (Encounters)
影像.唐伯敦與朋友 Images by Alton Thompson and Friends



影像展:五月二十一日至六月三十日
A photo exhibit running May 21-June 30


客串艺术家 Guest Artists:
邱敏芳 Keisha Chiu, 洪恩 Wendy Hung



Le Rouge



Le Rouge 義法廚房
1F.419-6, Section 1 Wenhua Road
Banqiao District, New Taipei


台灣 新北市 文化路一段419-6號1樓
各位會員大家好,本月21號(週六)晚上八點我們將在義
法廚房舉辦藝術家唐博敦攝影個展開幕酒會。這間餐廳位於新埔捷運站1號出口附近星巴克咖啡店的左邊。藝術家唐博敦誠摯歡迎大家蒞臨共襄盛舉。另外這場活動並不收取任何費用門票等,希望到場參與者別忘點一杯飲料,一同向唐先生祝賀本次展出成功。

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