Chinese names mean something. Your parents probably
chose your name because they liked the meaning, and liked the way it
sounded. In most cases, every Chinese person can look at your name and
know the meaning.
English names are different. Parents may look up a
name’s “meaning” or origin, but they really choose a name to honor someone
in the family (e.g., when they give their child the name of a father or
grandfather), or simply because they like the way the name sounds. Many
Americans know what their own name means, but almost no one knows what
someone else’s name means.
There is a large list of names in America. Since
people have come from many different countries, some American names
originate in England, France, Africa, Ireland, India, etc. Many people
also have “Hebrew” or “Greek” names because those are names used in the
Bible. My name, and my son’s name, are Biblical names.
As a Chinese college student, studying English, it is
a good idea to have an English name. While you are a student, you can
choose any name you want. I have had students who had “cute” or even
“stupid” names. When I called on that student’s name, people would laugh.
For example, I had a student named Dragon, another named “Go-stop” and
another named Attention. In one class, I had students who called
themselves Coca-cola, Cookie, Apple, and Banana! Just thinking about these
students makes me hungry! I have also had students who changed their
English names every month or two. This is very inconvenient for your
western friends or business contacts.
While you can choose any name you want, I
encourage you to choose a name that a western person would recognize as an
English name, and then keep that name for a long time. That way you will
get used to using this name, which someday will be useful when using
English for international communication. Think about how comfortable a
foreign professional or businessperson would be when using your name.
Mr. Smith: Yes, I’m Mr. Smith, calling from
America. I am interested in purchasing clothing from your company in
China, and I have received a letter from one of your representatives.
Can I speak to her please?
Secretary: Certainly, we would be glad to help
you. What is the agent’s name.
Mr. Smith: Banana
Secretary: I’m sorry, could you repeat that?
Mr. Smith: Her name is Banana; Banana Wang
Secretary: Oh, I’m sorry; I am not familiar with
everyone’s English name. Hold on just a minute.
(LOUDLY to the “office” or classroom) Do
we have any “Bananas” here?
Colleagues: Here’s a banana!