There was a very brief mention on Hong Kong names in my last post, where I spoke about the popularity of the name “Candy” here in HK, and how there is nothing suggestive whatsoever about the sweet name. Of course, I fear that I’m being an overbearing Westerner when I snicker at some of the Hong Kong names I’ve come across. On the other hand – it has worked both ways at times. I have a male friend here named Christy — which yes, I did a double-take to when I first heard it, as it is a typical female name, but I did not question. Christy, as it turns out, is an Irish name, and Christy, my friend, is half Irish. Poor thing, of course, has received plenty of comments about the confusing name – especially here in Hong Kong.
Annoyingly enough, he has had many locals ask, “Is your name really Christy??” I mean, it would be one thing to ask the origins of the name, or for him to repeat himself if it was confusing, but to ask if someone is actually named what they say is their name?? I find that shocking as I can EASILY ask the same of too many Hong Kongers I’ve met here.
While I’ve come across quite a few odd names, I swear, I’d never questioned the veracity of one’s name!
Another recent anecdote regarding HK names happened recently. I had to stop by the good ol’ HSBC to apply for a local credit card, and discovered I’d have to e-mail a few things to the banker. For some reason, he did not have a name card, but instead, wrote down his email address on a post-it. He started writing out his address — “Rhythm…” and I began to think — “No, no, no — please give me your official work e-mail, not your hotmail account!” when the banker continued on – “..<surname>*@hsbc.com.hk. And I could only reel back in surprise in my brain.
I realize that many Hong Kongers have their parents choose a name, and perhaps this name was chosen to match a Chinese name; or who knows, perhaps the parents didn’t know English too well; or you know what, maybe his parents are Gwyneth Paltrow (Apple) or Nicolas Cage (Kal-El). On the other hand, I’ve also heard that many locals choose their own English names later on in life, or are given English names by their school teachers, so shouldn’t they have chosen more wisely? I wonder if you think I’m still being an overbearing Westerner here, judging as I do, but I swear, it’s not just me, or this single instance. Below are a few articles I found on the very same subject, have a look:
I suppose it might be more typical in China or some other place where English is not the first language, but it is just bizarre to me in Hong Kong, where English was more or less the second unofficial language for decades, and where Western exposure has never been an issue.
Finally, to prove my point, here are a few other names I’d come across in HK life:
Chlorophyll — I was looking at names of lawyers on a firm’s website while job hunting and discovered this precious one.
Wet — for a female. OK, this I learned second-hand from a friend, but I think this is funny for some obvious, albeit dirty, reasons.
Circle — I met this guy at a social event, and after not understanding what he was trying to say was his name, perhaps because his accent was a bit strong, or because I could never have expected someone being named after a geometric figure, he drew a circle in the air with his finger to demonstrate his name.
And for the grand finale, and here I have to use her surname, in spite of my footnote below — the famous, and I swear she is real, Kinki Ho.
*While I’ve always used real names in my blog, I never reveal surnames, especially here with an e-mail address being printed.