And now for something totally different. You simply must read this article in today’s New York Times about the widespread practice of adopting Western names among Chinese youth. The article manages to be anthropologically fascinating, profoundly human, and almost transcendently hilarious – without being in the least condescending. And it gives a hint of the unruly spice of globalism.
Atypical Western names among Chinese students also reflect different attitudes that the cultures have toward naming. “Chinese names are often chosen for their meaning, but English names are often chosen for their sounds,” observed Ye Chongguang, 20, a junior at Beijing University who chose the name Magic Johnson, after the basketball star, whom he says he worships.
Most of the time, he tells people to call him Johnson. “Only in formal situations, like signing documents, do I use my full name, Magic Johnson Ye,” he explained.
As I said, it’s a must read.