Monday, October 17, 2011

Ask A Yeti: What's in a Name

So I met a little boy at the grocery store this week whose name is Luka.  And that got me thinking about your Lukai.  And then I wondered.  Why did Ping retain her Chinese name, but Lukai will not?  Just curious.

(adopting from Eastern Europe)

Dear Jennifer,

Hey, good question.  I should answer this on the blog later - because we actually get asked this fairly often.  :-)

Ping dose have a "Canadian" name, it is Jade.  Her legal name is something like Jade Roberta DongPing Berzenji - where we kept the DongPing from her original Chinese name Zhong DongPing.

However, she was 4 1/2 when we adopted her.  And she had language.  And friends.  And over 4 years of being called PingPing.  So, when we called her "Jade" she was very *VERY* clear, "I'm NO Jade!  I DongPing!"  So we let it go.  The kid had lost so much already, why take away her name if she wanted to keep it.

Now, we do call her JadePing often, sometimes Jade, and she is warming up to being called names other than Ping (but on the blog, I still refer to her solely as Ping).  She still prefers Ping to other names... and that is OK.  I know some other families don't agree with me on this point, they change their child's name on day 1.  In fact, I think there are some parents who have never ever called their children by their Chinese names.

Anyway, onto Wu YanBing (aka: Lukai).  He is quite a bit younger, so maybe he won't care about his name as much.  But, he knows his current name... so we will take the same approach.  He has a Canadian name, it is Lukai.  If he strongly objects to this name... well, then, he might stick with Bing.  Either way, his legal name will be Lukai Adrian YanBing Berzenji - again, keeping his Chinese given name in there like we did with Ping.

I guess for us, it is that we wanted them to have an easier to pronounce English Name if they wanted to use it, but keep their Chinese names since they already know it.  I remember in one of the classes we had to take about Adoption - they Social Workers were pointing out how these children who get adopted loose "everything" - country, food, language, and even their name.  "So why not let them keep their name" I though.  Both Ping and Bing are easy to pronounce in english... its not like they have a name like Qi which can not be pronounced by any sane english speaker.  :-)

If we were adopting a 6month old baby, then new name no problem... I don't know how much a 6 month old associates with their names.  They would know parental voices more than their names.  But I'm getting off topic... probably because I'm trying to avoid work.  :-)

Did I actually answer your question in there?

The Yeti


  1. How DO you pronounce Qi? Our little girls name is XiaoKui Ha Ha! How does a sane English speaker pronounce that one? We will call her Iley XiaoKui.....for the same reason....ease of pronunciation. Although, if it were spelled different, I like the way it sounds:)

  2. So far as I can tell, Qi would sound like "Chee".

    The Q initial sound makes a 'ch' sound. But its not a 'ch' sound heavy on the 'c'. More like a 'ch' sound with a hint of 't' thrown in. :-)

    The I final sound makes a hard 'e' sound. Like, the 'e' sound in the word bee.

    In fairness, I'm still probably getting it wrong. :-)

    Your daughters name is quite pretty. I like names beginning with Xiao. For our eldest son, his "chinese name" is XiaoKe . :-)

  3. For the first month we called our DD (age 2) by her English name, followed by Chinese name. We were home almost 2 months before she stopped referring to herself by her Chinese name and refers to herself by her English name. So Bing/Lukai might want to use both for awhile too.

  4. I like Bing and Ping. But I like Jade and Luckai too.

    That said, If my DD wants to be called a jelly doughnut I would probably call her that. Arguing with a 3 year old is not fun and I do almost anything to avoid it.

    We kept my DD"s name it is Emma Jean ChunXiao Lillie. A mouthful, right? But at least her options are open.

  5. We kept Haleigh's Chinese name for the same reason. At first we called her Haleigh Sanwan and then it just became Haleigh which is the name she herself uses now, although she pronounces it YayYay. But we wanted her to always have it so she is formally Haleigh Rebekah Sanwan - a mouthful!

  6. My daughter's Chinese name is Qian Ping. Yes, the Q sound in Chinese is a little different than anything English. But most importantly, NO ONE here in the US would probably EVER get it right. Her full name is Emmalyne Qianping Dorothy Hale. It's a mouthful, but it's what we came up with. Emmalyne was given to her as uniquely her own. Qianping-obvious. Dorothy was my paternal grandmother's name, and I almost gave that as her first name. We struggled greatly with this issue. I rather wanted to put her Chinese name first and her "English name" second, but again was afraid of no one ever getting it right when she someday (maybe ;) goes to public school, or at the DMV or college or whatever. I thought of starting with an initial. I'm pretty sure you can do that legally. Q. Emmalyne Hale or Dorothy or whatever. Her nickname, too, is Ping Ping, and we still call her that a lot. I go back and forth between Ping Ping, Emmalyne, Emme, Emma-Ping, etc., etc. Personally, I think it's a sign of respect to acknowledge the previous name given. Maybe it was only given by an orphanage official, but it represents (to me) the child's identity while in China. And I don't believe that should be erased or tossed aside. It's all part of the whole.

  7. Ahhh, so true. Great comments all. :-)

  8. We call the Pipsqueak by her English name (by prior agreement, everyone uses that same name). However, her full name includes part of her Chinese name and another English name (her 1st name honors her Grandma, this "middle" name honors her Grandpa). The Pipsqueak's only a bit past her 2nd birthday but she's already learned -- just like most kids, I suspect! -- that if she hears those middle names it's time to, um, throttle back a tad... :-)