Keep Your Chinese name

Dear Fei,

Congratulations on your new position in that multinational company that you have been longed for. Regarding your question on if you should give yourself an English name, I don’t think it’s necessary.

First of all, how hard is it to remember or pronounce Fei? It’s simple and catchy. It’s much more unique and original than David, John, Jack or whatever names Chinese seem to give themselves in an effort to fit in or be trendy.

I know you are concerned that the employee might ignore you if they have a problem remembering your name. But in my experience, employers wouldn’t ignore you based on your name but rather the weight of your resume. The qualifications you had, experience and references count more. It is more about who you are and what you can do than how you are named.

Though you will be working in a multinational company, most of your colleagues will still be Chinese. Almost all my Chinese friends have a western name except for those that have really easy ones to remember like Ling. It usually ends up like Chinese colleagues are calling each other in English names and it’s difficult to relate your English name with your real Chinese name.

When I was studying at college, our teachers required all of us to use English names as it’s a language school and all the courses are taught in English. We were calling classmates English names for four years and I have a problem remembering their Chinese names. I ran into one of my college mates on the street the other day and I called her Cecilia without thinking but she said she no longer called herself that name. I was embarrassed as I couldn’t remember her real Chinese.

But she doesn’t forget mine. I didn’t have an English name and I insisted my teacher call me Yiying. Only by that can I feel that people are calling me instead of a stranger with a strange foreign name. She accepted with pressure. See, an English name is no need. My name is my identity and I am very proud of it.

Don’t worry that your foreign colleagues won’t remember or pronounce your name. It wouldn’t take long for most people to learn how to pronounce your Chinese name properly. In English speaking countries, many people have long and difficult names, let alone people from some other countries like India, Middle East or Africa. People are usually willing to try to pronounce your name correctly. Worrying about people having difficulty trying to pronounce your name shouldn’t be a reason to change your name.

The best example to follow is Arnold Schwarzenegger. When he first came to the US, he was told to change his name to Arnold Strong. But he stuck with Schwarzenegger and look at him now.

Be true to your name is like believing in yourself. If you mingle well enough and just give everything a go every once in a while, you’ll fit in just fine. Eventually, most reasonable people will know you as you and take you for whom you are.

In the end of the day, you would realize that foreigners actually prefer Chinese names. Since they work in China, they must have some common sense about Chinese names and culture. What’s more, a lot of foreigners give themselves Chinese names to fit in China. Why should we use English names in our country?

Therefore, I strongly suggest you keep your Chinese name. I wish you the very best luck in your new job.

Yours sincerely,

3 thoughts on “Keep Your Chinese name

  1. I wanted to check up and allow you to know how considerably I treasured discovering your blog today. I will reconsider it a real honor to do things at my workplace and be able to make use of the tips discussed on your web page and also partake in visitors’ feedback like this. Should a position thoughprovoking guest writer become on offer at your end, you should let me know.

  2. dear Fei, I once had the same confusion as you.
    I don’t like my Chinese name, which I though it doesn’t beautiful and attractive enough.Then I gave myself an English name. I always want others especially foreigners remember and call my English names. It turns out they prefer to call my Chinese name.They do. And I conceded that I did have problems to accept myself, like my name.
    Another problems is that I tried to remember them, workers in service industrial, while finding hard to stick to it.In foot bath, lady workers are called”Xiao Hua,Xiao lan”;in salon, people were called “No.10, No.12”.I want to show my respect treating them as a person instead of a number, a tool, while most of people simply follow the rule. And it is convenient to remember and easy to manage for the employees. However, it did hurt a individual’s feelings.
    If we don’t care, nobody cares.

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