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Re: CHAT: cultural interpretation [was Re: THEORY: language and the brain]

From:Tristan <kesuari@...>
Date:Monday, July 7, 2003, 11:00
On Mon, 2003-07-07 at 19:17, Peter Bleackley wrote:
> How common is it for Australian-born Chinese to have a combination of > western and Chinese names? I know a British-born first language Cantonese > speaker (her parents speak very little English) and she only has Chinese > names, although they are in Western order (personal name first).
Both Australians whose parents are Chinese and Australians who immigrated (children and adults) from China to Australia themselves often have English names. For those that immigrated, I guess it's safe to assume they also have a Chinese name, but I can't make an assumption about people born in Australia because they mostly use just one. People with (recent) Vietnamese heritage are more likely to use a Vietnamese name, it seems, though they both hold onto their culture as well as the other AFAICT. A survey of my high school's 2002 year book seems to suggest that people with obviously Vietnamese names (and people I know to have a Vietnamese background) tend to use Vietnamese given names and people with obviously Chinese names (and people I know to have a Chinese background) tend to use English given names, but I only know for certain that three of those people have Chinese names as well. But there are exceptions, like John Nguyen or Wan Jing Zhan. (My high school had a fair amount of people of Chinese and Vietnamese background. Problems with this sample include the fact that it's made up solely of guys aged 17-19 who managed to get into a school with relatively high (brain, not money) entrance requirements. But I don't think it's significantly different amongst girls; my friends did talk about their siblings using English names, and the names of Chinese girls I've known agree with it, too. Many of these people's parents didn't speak much English---and it wouldn't surprise me if that was a cause in giving them English names!) Of course, people of Chinese descent tend to have Chinese surnames :) So that was a really long way of saying that a lot of Chinese people use English names, and many of them almost certainly have Chinese names, but because they prefer to use their English names, you tend to only hear/see their English names. And I guess there's nothing stopping them from using their Chinese names at the expense of their English ones, but I've never known anyone who's said they do. Though it'd be harder to find that one out, because their Chinese name will be the one on official documents, being their first one. (Not that their English name's are unofficial, I just mean the way my licence says Tristan A. McLeay.) I've called them 'English names', rather than 'Western names', because that's what they're called by people who have both IME. -- Tristan.