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Written By: sxiong2 on September 9, 2008 No Comment

At my work site today, the student I worked with asked me this question: “Can I call you Ellen instead because your name is too hard to say?” Of course I was not about to change my name; I told her I would think about it. Then the student sitting next to her asked me this question: “What is your American name?” My American name? I thought this question was very funny because the name I have now is already in English except it just does not sound like an American name.

I recall my Ed140 class last summer where a student presented a story similiar to mine. He was an immigrant from China, and so he would of course have a Chinese name. When he was enrolled in school, his ESL teacher thought his name was way too hard to pronounce and decided to call him ‘Alex’ instead.  And so he was Alex for the next three years. I also remember this name giving him some problems with his high school diploma and government papers because the school had made Alex his middle name, but his original name does not contain the name Alex.

I have thought about several nicknames for myself because I have been noticing that people do mispronounce my name or can’t remember what it is exactly. Names like ‘Solo, Sulu, Swan, Sowa, Su-an’ are common mistakes people make when trying to remember or pronounce my name. A friend of mine told me maybe I could use the name ‘Suki’ instead since it’s easier to say. But I don’t think I will. I remember a certain GSI saying that your name is who you are. If people are going to respect you, they will have to respect your name and take the time to get it right. But who knows? Maybe my name needs to be more ‘American’?

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