Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nominal Reinvention

Chinese mainlanders used to be easily spotted in Hong Kong for their fashion sense, or lack of, but now they are trying to reinvent themselves in the former British enclave even further.

The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong recently reported that more mainlanders who live there are legally changing the spelling of their names to avoid discrimination.

A lawyer said his firm was seeing more mainland Chinese wanting to change the romanized spelling of their name to look more like Hong Kong residents.

For example, some Putonghua-speaking mainland clients would ask to have "Zhu" changed to "Chu", and "Zeng" to "Tsang".

"Some names in Putonghua pronunciation start with X or Z and many new migrants from the mainland want to change the spelling of their names in order to sound like a Hong Kong citizen who grew up in the city," the lawyer, Raymond Tang told the newspaper.

"Some whose names are only two characters also want to change them to three, as names with two characters are more common on the mainland," he was quoted as saying.

Statistics from the Immigration Department showed there was a monthly average of 105 name-change applications in the first nine months of this year, higher than in the previous four years.

Transforming a two-character Chinese name to three is almost like creating a new persona. And unless these mainlanders are from Guangdong and can speak perfect Cantonese, it's hard to see how these people can claim to have Cantonese-spelling names.

Perhaps later on they will also follow the Hong Kong trend of having English names.

Many years ago in Hong Kong I met a girl called Roach. I've also heard of Neon, Apple, Cinderella... Creamy and even Hitler!

Wonder what kinds of names mainlanders will come up with...


Kai Sun said...

lack of cultivation is the cause of people who have crazy names. they dont know some english names are for names only. others are surnames only. some are both.

gung said...

same thing happens in canada when there was chinese exclusion act. the pioneer chinese used english names in order to avoid discrimination. that is why you see--huey for hoy, jung for cheng, lowe for lo, hum for tam, dair for tse, mar for ma, louie for liu....