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When Lindsay Jernigan, an American expat in China, noticed how often Chinese professionals had — for lack of a better term — "stripper" names like Candy and Cherry, she wanted to find a way to help them out. Jernigan said that often Chinese adults select an English name for American business or school purposes, but there wasn’t a service available to help in the selection process. So she started the website bestenglishname.com to help Chinese people choose, well, their best English name. But why the stripper names? She explains the fascinating reasons below.
生活在中國的美籍人士林賽.杰尼根注意到一些中國的專業人士大多都缺少一個合適的英文名字—因為他們常常把自己的名字取成像Candy和Cherry這樣的名字,實際上這些名字在美國是脫衣舞娘的名字,因此她想要找到一種方法來幫助他們起名字。杰尼根說,中國的成年人經?;岢鲇諼ッ攔郵律桃禱疃蜓暗哪康難≡褚桓鲇⑽拿?,但在選擇過程中沒有服務能夠為他們提供幫助。因此,她創辦了網站bestenglishname.com,以幫助中國人選擇他們最好的英文名字。但她為什么稱那些名字是脫衣舞娘的名字呢?她解釋了下面有趣的原因。
Hello my name is, [insert very confusing Chinese name], but you can call me [insert equally puzzling English name. One that was usually popular in the 1970s]. This is a common way for Chinese people to introduce themselves when interacting with foreigners." This practice dates back to the beginning of China’s rapid ascension to economic superpower. As East got to know West, cross-cultural communication required that the given name be relevant and easy.
“你好,我的名字是,[插入非常令人困惑的中文名字],但你可以叫我[插入同樣令人費解的英文名字]”。這是中國人在與外國人打交道時自我介紹的一種常見方式,在20世紀70年代很流行。這種做法可以追溯到中國向經濟超級大國快速提升之初。隨著東方對西方的了解,跨文化的交流需要我們的名字足夠簡單并有一定的相關性。
You may ask why are Chinese names so difficult for Westerners? If you ever take the leap to learn a little Chinese, your first month of lessons will most likely be just learning the alphabet (called Pinyin) that goes along with the characters. This alphabet was actually invented by the Russians in the 1920s. Herein lies the problem with Chinese names — trying to pronounce Qian or Xiu is not a simple phonetic exercise. And so the practice of the ’English Name’ was adopted.
你可能會問為什么中國人的名字對西方人來說那么難?如果你想學一點漢語,你第一個月的課程很可能只是學習字母(稱為拼音)。這個字母表實際上是俄國人在20世紀20年代發明的。杰尼根闡述了中文名字的問題在于:讀“錢”或“修”不僅僅是簡單的語音練習。因此他們采用了“英文名”的做法。
Some of you can think back to your first day of Spanish class when you pick your Spanish name that you are referred to for the rest of the year, or maybe even your Spanish career, which probably ended in high school. Well, it is both similar and different to a Chinese person picking an English name.
你們可以想象你第一天上西班牙語課時選擇西班牙名字的時候,在接下來的一年,甚至是你整個西班牙語學習生涯中(當然你的西班牙語學習生涯可能在高中就結束了)你都會使用這個名字。實際上這和一個中國人取英文名字是類似的,但是也有所不同。
Like our Spanish class experience, many of them pick these names when they first start to learn English. Those names become email addresses; they appear on business cards, name tags, even job applications, and, therefore, these names can stick with them for a long time.
就像我們的西班牙課堂經驗一樣,他們中的許多人在剛開始學習英語的時候都選擇了這些名字。這些名字后來也變成了電子郵件地址;它們出現在名片、標簽、甚至是工作應用程序上,因此,這些名稱可以在很長一段時間內保持不變。
The English naming culture is wildly different to the Chinese naming culture, leading to a total misunderstanding as to how to pick an English name. We laugh when we hear Chinese with names like Furry, Eleven or Mars, but if you understand the Chinese naming culture, you will understand how they can adopt these names with a straight face. The main, overarching issue is that Chinese people are taking their own Chinese naming practices and using them to choose an English name. Here are some naming practices unique to Chinese and how they might affect English name choice.
英語的命名文化與中國的命名文化大相徑庭,因此導致了對如何選擇英文名的完全誤解。當我們聽到一些中國人的名字叫“Furry”、“Eleven”或“Mars”時,我們會感覺可笑。但是如果你了解中國的命名文化,你就會明白他們為什么這么嚴肅的選擇這些名字。主要的問題在于中國人使用他們自己的命名習慣來選擇英文名字。以下是一些中國特有的命名習慣,以及它們是如何影響英文名稱選擇的。
A Chinese given name can also be any word or character. There is not a strong distinction between a regular word and a name. This is why the Boat’s, Mars’s, and Genius’s exist.
中文名字可以是任何字或詞語。普通單詞和名字之間沒有明顯區別。這就是為什么會有Boat’s、Mars’s、Genius’s這些名字存在。
Chinese is a much more complex language than English. They have a whole other level of language rooted in the characters. These characters, while very intimidating, are actually intricate and beautiful representations of words and meaning. There is actually even a level of Feng Shui in these characters called the Five Elements. It is important for these elements to be balanced. The elements are Fire, water, stone, metal, and wood. If you have a lot of Fire, you might want some water in your English name, so you pick Ocean!
漢語是一種比英語復雜得多的語言。甚至在名字中存在植根于人物性格的另一個深層次文化。這些特征聽起來雖然很嚇人,但實際上是文字和意義間復雜而美麗的表現。在這些特征中,甚至有一種叫做“五行風水”。這種文化強調金、木、水、火、土五行之間的平衡。如果你五行中占火比較多,那么你就可能想要一些含有水的英文名字,所以你選擇海洋!
In China you can have a variant of a name that quite literally no one else has. It can be a very unique character with a meaning deeply rooted in your family’s values. So oftentimes Chinese people will try to find a name that no one else has and invent a name himself or herself, like Harevil. Yes, this is a real life example.
在中國,你可以有一個與眾不同的名字。由于它深深植根于你家庭的價值觀,所以它擁有其獨到的含義。中國人通?;崾醞頰業揭桓霰鶉嗣揮霉拿?,因此他們會為自己起名,比如Harevil。這是一個真實的例子。
Chinese people put a lot of emphasis on the meaning of a name. This is a key difference that is often hard for Chinese people to understand. For example, Kendall — a really cool and strong name — actually means "Valley beside the River Kent." So instead people will often opt for the literal and choose a name like Beauty, Paradise, or Smile.
中國人非常重視名字的含義。而這正是中國人很難理解外國名字的關鍵。例如,Kendall就是一個非??岷頹看蟮拿?,但是它字面的意思是“在肯特河旁邊的山谷”。所以,人們通?;嵫≡褡置嬉饉?,選擇“Beauty”、“Paradise”或“Smile”這樣的名字。
In creating BestEnglishName.com I have spent a lot of time understanding these cultural differences as expressed through names. I completely understand how English names can be confusing. For example, Violet is a beautiful name, color, as well as flower, but neither Green nor Hydrangea are accepted as English names. The name Taylor can be for a girl or a boy, but Gary is strictly a name for a man. The name Mackenzie is a very popular and cute girl name, but it actually means "son of." It’s confusing.
在創建BestEnglishName.com網站的過程中,我花了很多時間來理解這些不同的文化差異。我完全理解英文名字為什么會讓人困惑。例如,Violet是一個美麗的名字,它代表顏色和花,但是Green和Hydrangea這種英文名字卻不被人們所接受。Taylor這個名字既可以是女孩又可以是男孩的名字,但Gary卻是一個男人的名字。Mackenzie這個名字非常流行,也很可愛,但它的意思卻是“兒子”。這確實很令人困惑。
On our website we try to create content that is targeted to Chinese people making this decision. We try to express the importance of an English name in an international setting. We do our best to explain English names, their history, and how we as ’foreigners’ choose a name. Our clients and users range from students in middle school starting to learn English for the first time, to a young professional at a multi-national company, to a mom in LA having her child in the US and needing name to put on his or her passport.
在我們的網站上,我們試圖針對中國人在選擇名字的問題上做出一些內容。我們試圖表達在國際環境中英文名字選擇的重要性。我們盡我們最大的努力來解釋英文名字,它們的歷史,以及我們作為“外國人”選擇名字的方式。我們的客戶和用戶包括第一次學習英語的中學學生,到跨國公司的年輕專業人員,再到洛杉磯的一個母親,這位母親的孩子在美國,需要把她的名字寫在他/她們的護照上。
While our website began with the task of assisting Chinese people to choose an English name, our mission has evolved into what we think our users ultimately want and need — to feel confident and comfortable when meeting foreigners. Our website will soon expand to provide a fun and engaging platform to not only give them the essentials like a good English name, but to allow them to have more understanding of how their culture and the culture of traditional English speakers can truly merge. After all, this generation of Chinese is creating a new world culture for us all!
雖然我們網站最初的任務是幫助中國人選擇一個英文名字,但我們的任務已經發展到使我們的用戶能夠得到他最想要和需要的東西—在遇到外國人時感到自信和舒適。我們的網站很快就會拓展成為一個有趣且吸引人的平臺,這個平臺不僅給客戶選擇一個好聽的英語名字,而且讓他們更加了解中國文化和傳統英語使用者的文化是如何真正融合的。畢竟,這一代中國人正在為我們大家創造一個新的世界文化!
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