Monday, April 26, 2010

Chinese people and Anglo names

Australia is a multi-cultural country. You come across people from many different cultural backgrounds here.

We of course have the Europeans, which comprised originally of peoples from Anglo backgrounds, followed later by Continental Europeans.

More recently we have had an influx of Asians, comprising primarily of Indians and Chinese, amongst others.

What I find suprising is that even though the Indians share a common history with the English, when it comes to first names, almost all the Indian Australians that I have come into contact with choose to keep their original Indian name, rather than use an English name, which is the more common practice amongst migrants.

In fact I don't think I have come across any Indians with an Anglo first name, not even Christian Indians, who tend to adopt Christian surnames.

Conversely, this is not the case with Chinese Australians. It is very rare indeed when I come across a Chinese person, whether they be an adult who emigrated to Australia or a child born in Australia, who are known by their Chinese first name.

I don't know what it is about the Chinese, but they place a lot of importance on selecting a novel Anglo first name for themselves and their children.

And these are not standard Anglo names like John or Sharon. They are names with a distinctly Victorian flair about them, almost as if the names were chosen directly from an English novel straight out of the 19th century.

In fact I can often pick out a Chinese child simply from a list of names, simply by looking at their first name only, because the Chinese Australians tend to out-British the British when it comes to choosing names with that certain Brittanic feel to it.

When it came to our child, my wife insisted on choosing his name alone.

She naturally gave the child a Chinese middle name, although she let her mother choose the middle name.

With regard to our child's first name, my wife laboured over this choice for many many years, long before she was even pregnant.

Even as close as a few days before she gave birth, she had still not settled on a name, even though she consulted with people far and wide, and read novel after novel, in order to find the name that she felt was just right.

Finally she chose a name after a previous English Prime Minister, because she felt the name represented strength and resilience, qualities that she wanted in our son.

Anyway, this is how our son was named, and both she and I expected this name to be a rarity today, but nonetheless a familiar name amongst English speakers.

To our suprise, when our son started school, we found out that 4 other boys in his year also had the same name, and, well you guessed it, they were all Chinese.

What do you like/dislike most about Chinese women?