To a Westerner, the English translation of the menu generator is often a fit of laughter stinker. The menu “English” offers Solicitating this appetizing “water salad” or “salad water” or unforgettable “garbage sandwiches” or “garbage sandwiches.” Despite the irresistible temptation to succumb to the lure of food as refined taste, we ordered something else.
After wiping the tears of laughter against a Chinese waitress and dubious, Joe and I got to talk English first names that Chinese choose.
For China, the most educated people want to have a English name. In business, it facilitates communication with foreigners, and most importantly, it’s cool. Moreover, the Chinese phonetics makes it difficult for a Westerner to pronounce Chinese names correctly, let alone remember. Even Cai Li, with whom I lived for almost a year, sometimes fun to hear me pronounce his name.
And I often meet local ask me to find a English name. Similarly, when I explain that my name is Christopher, the Chinese find it unpronounceable, and ask me if I was not an English name. The result is that almost everyone my name is Chris, or Ke Lin.
For the fun and bilateral approach, many expatriates also ask their local friends to find them a Chinese name. Thus, “Ke Lin” is a phonetic sinicization “Chri”, the first four letters of my name. The Chinese can not pronounce the “r”, and it turned into “l”. Of “Chri”, there has been phonetically “Kli”, ending in “Ke Lin”. “Ke” has no meaning, and “Lin” means “wood” in the sense of small forest, a symbol of wisdom emerging, and also a certain prosperity, as in China, is codified and superstition is so crazy that even the names have luck.
Here, there are no saints in the calendar. In Mandarin, the names are from the usual vocabulary … And are always connoted. This is where it’s fun, because the Chinese do not know the English names are not nouns or adjectives.