Tuesday 15 December 2009

0324 HKSAR Name of the Day

Juno Mak Chun-lung (Mr), singer, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare


  1. Have you ever met the waitress, Kinki, at the FCC?
    Before, there was an FCC waiter named Givenchy. Then one day, he changed his name to Guts.

  2. Thanks Joyce. If you can remember their full names or surnames then I will post these novel names here and credit you.

  3. Hmm. Givenchy/Guts hasn't been at the FCC for years. But next time I see Kinki, I'll ask her!

  4. I've met Bandex Wong, Kennex Leung and Chimpanzee Lee, all working for the same advertising company.
    There also used to be a dumpy, spotty girl working at the IKEA check-out whose first name was SMITH.

    I will link to you from now on, and keep a keener eye out for names. After all, I see them every day ...
    Oh yeah, one of my Facebook friends is frequently commented on by one Lammy Pang.

  5. Thank you Cecilie. I will post these up in due course and credit you.

    BTW, would it be possible to mention the name of the advertising company please? Also, does Smith have a surname?

  6. It's so many years ago, so sorry, have forgotten the name of the company. Something like Great Smart Glorious ... you know. Actually, I'll ask my friend.
    Smith ... Leung? Also not sure. I look for her every time I'm at IKEA but she may have moved on to something more challenging.

  7. But some of the names you mention, like Queenie and Fredrik, aren't so strange, I think.
    Queenie is very British and there were scores of girls named that about ... I'd say the time of queen Victoria. Fredrik is common in Scandinavia. Gibson ... well, HK people with surnames as first names isn't exactly unusual?

  8. Thanks Cecilie. I’ve defined “novel” here as uncommon, unusual or unique .

    I agree with you that some names aren’t so strange, but context is relatively important here. You correctly mentioned that some names are popular during a particular period in time (note: some names are consistently popular over longer periods of time). Also, some names are popular in particular places (likewise some are popular in many places). Therefore, “time and place” within the Hong Kong context is important. For instance, would you think it strange that a Hong Kong Chinese person chooses to have a, say, Spanish or Indian first name?

    Also, what does the observation that HK people with surnames as first names reveal? Does a good understanding of English and English culture play a role in how HK people choose their English first names? In fact, does an understanding of, say, Spanish or Indian culture play a role in how HK people choose Spanish or Indian names?

  9. I think it's funny that some HK people laugh their heads off when they see I have a (normal) Chinese name, while themselves sporting an employee's button saying "Wanky" or "Balthazar".

  10. Funny yes. But again context is crucial. In the context of a foreigner having a Chinese name (which is relatively rare), just how “normal” is your name? Many foreigners are “given” a Chinese name that is based rather prosaically on their English name. Let’s look at the example of Gregory Rivers. His Chinese surname is, surprise, surprise, the same as River. And his common names (and these are really common) are taken from his idol, Hong Kong legend Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing. Gregory Rivers is therefore Ho Kwok Wing.

    Let’s call this “method A” in Westerners being assigned Chinese names. Method A, the simple no-fuss easy translation of a surname (which means the same in either English or Chinese) combined with regular common names. Ho Kwok Wing is pretty common (or “normal”), I guess. Cecilie, is your Chinese name this kind of “normal”?

    Or is it another kind (i.e. method B)? Perhaps your surname doesn’t mean anything to non-English “ears” (like Smith) or cannot be directly translated? Therefore, it may be a phonetic derivative with characters that are uncommon, unusual or unique among Chinese people’s names. Thus, these kind of Chinese names may not mean anything and may not have any “tradition” of being a common name. Could this be the source of your name’s hilarity?

    Or is it a third kind (i.e. method C)? Perhaps your name becomes something bizarre once it is directly or phonetically translated (e.g. think Kevin Bacon, Cruella de Vil, Simon le Bon, Venus Williams, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mrs Doubtfire, Leonard Nimoy … we could have lots of fun here!!)? Could this be the source of Wanky laughing her head off?

    BTW, if Wanky and Balthazar are real people, then please provide their surnames and occupations, so that they can appear as HKSAR Names of the Day! Thanks again.

  11. My Chinese name is REAL.
    What they're laughing at is "foreigner has Chinese name - crazy!" not the name itself. While they themselves is being called Adolf.

  12. Oh OK, fair enough. So, some Chinese are laughing at you for simply having the audacity to have and use a Chinese name. How dare you Cecilie! :) This appears to have little to do with your Chinese name being unusual, uncommon or unique, and everything to do the oddity of a foreigner using a Chinese name.

    This is one level below our context in considering HKSAR Novel Names. That is, we are “relatively more ahead” in accepting that Chinese people can choose to have foreign first names (whereas it seems some Chinese find it difficult to accept that foreigners can opt to adopt Chinese names). What intrigues us is the sometimes bizarre choice of foreign first names they choose.

  13. While we're on the subject of FCC staff names, there does seem to have been a generational change. The older staff have sensible English names like Stephen, Andrew, John, Kevin, David, James, Gilbert, Jacky, Gloria, Shirley. But some of the others seem to have random collections of letters like Lobo, Kinki, Rebo, ... (except those who, quite sensibly just use their Chinese names, like Ming, Hoi-Lo, ...)

    The is one who wears a name badge that says "Winky", but I've reason to believe that her official "English" name, as on her HKID card, is "Windy". I can just imagine the reaction in the FCC when she arrived and started wearing a badge saying that! (She's been there longer than me)

  14. Thanks Smog for sharing your observations. One of my ‘theories’ about the use of English names by non-English language societies is how important “conformity” is in the society, and perhaps also how important is the understanding of English and English culture. I use the example of Singapore and Hong Kong, which both have Chinese populations that arguably have different levels of “conformity” and “use of English”. If a society is conservative and affects individuals from being able to express themselves or bring attention to themselves, then the frequency of novel names may be lower than in a society where individuals do not feel as much pressure to conform. Similarly, for the use of English: Singaporeans are arguably “better” at use of English than Hongkongers, generally speaking, and therefore the appearance of novel names in Singapore may be less frequent.

    To address Smog’s observation about “generational differences”, could it be that generally the older generation in Hong Kong is relatively more conservative than the younger generation, and therefore generally prefer to choose “sensible” English names? The younger generation may be relatively more liberated and less likely to conform. What I am suggesting is that depending on an individual's level of conformity or creativity or understanding of English (or other factors), they may choose a novel name irrespective of whether they are "older generation" or "younger" generation.

    Also, I wouldn’t go so far as to say many novel names “seem to have random collections of letters like Lobo, Kinki, Rebo”. Many Hongkongers spend a long time “creating” their novel names. It is something that that individual is proud of (otherwise, why choose such a unique lifetime label?). They may not realize that their names are not sensible or incomprehensible, but that may be related to their understanding of English and English culture, and besides they may not care either because what may matter more is that they believe no one else in their circle are likely to have such a unique name. The consideration of novel names perhaps deserves further study.