Sticking with the subject of names after my post about how I think my boyfriend’s name may be affecting his ability to get a job interview, I’ve been thinking about the English names people from Hong Kong give to their children. People in Hong Kong generally have a Chinese and an English name, due to the fact Hong Kong used to be owned by the UK. The reason that this has interested me is because of how strange some of the names are.
My boyfriend has a pretty uncommon name. I think it’s more popular in America, but i’ve never heard of anyone with his name in the UK. His brother and his parents have extremely old fashioned names, to the point where I am sure only 90 year olds would be called the same. It’s also common to find people with names you would never hear in the UK (unless the baby belonged to a celebrity); things like Angel, Apple, Coco and Bunny (and these are some of the more normal ones!)
You only have to look at some Hong Kong celebrities to see the strange names they come up with. (I don’t know who most of these people are or why they are famous, i’ve just been googling names)
There are old fashioned names such as:
- Ada Choi
- Winston Chu
- Herman Li
- Josephine Koo
- Stanley Kwan
- Raymond Kwok
- Walter Kwok
- Betty Loh
- Kenneth Tsang
- Elsie Leung
- Albert Chan
- Neville Poy
There are also names that are random words such as:
- Fruit Chan (Food)
- Hilton Cheong-Leen (Hotel)
- York Chow (UK City)
- Butterfly Hu (Insect)
- Athena Chu (Goddess)
- King Hu (Nobility)
- Ringo Lam Leng-tung (Member of the Beatles)
- Hacken Lee (Football team)
- Gigi Leung (Film)
- Race Wong (Sporting event)
- Run Run Shaw (Action)
- Teddy Wong (Cuddly toy)
- Griffin Yue Feng (Mythical Creature)
- Ekin Cheng (River)
- Oxide Pang Chun (Chemical Compound)
…and of course…
- Jet Li (Aeroplane)
It’s not just the celebrities making up names. You can see some more interesting names in this blog post by HK Girl Talk. The people of Hong Kong are not crazy though! There are reasons that they give their children names like these.
One reason is that the people of Hong Kong want to be unique. It’s very unlikely you would find more than one person in the world called “Steel Tong” and for them, this is a good thing. It’s also much more memorable than “Dave Smith” and in this competitive country, you need to stand out. In the UK however, a name like this probably wouldn’t have a positive effect.
Another reason is that some people do not 100% understand English names. In Hong Kong, Chinese names have a meaning – for example the name “Li Yong” means brave, so they may think that naming their child “Pretty” or “Strong” is a normal think, though of course it isn’t. It’s just a cultural difference that doesn’t translate. This also can refer to the old fashioned names – it’s not surprising that people in Hong Kong might not know which English names are currently popular.
I’ve always disliked strange names. I don’t think you should force something like that on a child. I can only see it as a selfish act and it can make their lives very hard! This is coming from a UK point of view though. A child in the UK would get horrifically bullied if they were called “Fish”, but maybe that wouldn’t happen in Hong Kong and maybe it really will help them get further in life when they are older. Not everyone has an odd name, but it is the norm rather than a rarity. If the reason for the strange names is because the parents don’t understand how English names work, however, I think that’s kind of endearing. (I still feel very sorry for the children though!)
What are your thoughts? Do you know any Asians with an “interesting” English name?