Saturday, August 10, 2013

Why Chinese people want a foreign first name?

Teaching french in China, I noticed that all my students want me to give a french first name.

I often wonder about this?
As your first name is your identity.
Changing your first name is kind of changing your identity!
Colonizator would baptise and give a new first name to notify a change of identity, a second birth!

Some Chinese first name are incomprehensible for westerners.
Some Chinese people need to adopt a foreign first name as foreigner would never remember their Chinese first name and pronounce it correctly.
But I think that this explanation is unsufficient.
In fact I met many Chinese people who already have a English first name and ask me for a new french first name!

Having a foreign first name gives face.
Having a foreign first name, travelling, studying, living abroad gives face for many Chinese people. It gives a new social position.

Many Chinese people want to change identity?
While studying abroad, many Chinese people want to fully adapt to a new country and a new culture.
They want to understand a foreign culture but also integrate this culture themselves and having a foreign first name is necessary.

First name doesn't matter that much for Chinese people?
It might also be that first name is not that important for a Chinese personn while their family name is crucial for their identity? 
As you know a Chinese person when introducing himself will always tell you his family name and then his first name. Often I was asked: "what is your name" As I naturaly answered "Georges", most Chinese would ask about my family name.

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