What’s in a Name?

Earlier this week, Shanghaiist had this great post about how a guy from Chongqing got stuck with the same Chinese name as Hong Kong actor Andy Lau (Liu Dehua). This supposedly caused the guy’s business partner to split with him over the fact that having the same as Andy Lau nobody would take him seriously and his girlfriends would always get scolded because everyone would compare their boyfriend to the real Liu Dehua. But then it turns out later in the story that the guy’s name came about because of an error:

“What’s really ironic is that Liu Dehua isn’t his real name. In fact, his name ought to be Liu Jianhua, because the siblings in his generation all have “Jian” as the middle character. So how did he end up being “Dehua”? Because, someone in a bumble-fuck township government office in Chongqing municipality probably wrote his name wrong. If you stab yourself in the eye and squint long enough, the characters for Jian (健) and De (德) look kinda similar. Or maybe you have to be illiterate, and then stab yourself in the eye. Anyway, the title of the article says that Liu now suffers from depression, and he feels like he’s going to have to go back home and officially change his name.”

When I got my first resident permit in Shanghai, the public security official mispronounced my last name as “Guose” and gave me the same Chinese name as Tom Cruise (ironically we share the same birthday and so does TV tabloid godfather, Geraldo). But this didn’t help my prospects or personal for the three years that I had it. So in late 2006, I changed it to my current Chinese name.



1 Comment

Filed under China Society, Personal

One response to “What’s in a Name?

  1. Hi!

    I just logged in at facebook but can’t send you any messages there. My email is ysanchez@fmg.uva.nl if you like we could exchange some emails. I want to ask you a couple of questions about Shanghai! And thanks for accepting me at FB

    Best, Yanina

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