asian-american children's names


Asian-American Children's Names: Just White People's Names From the 50s?

Or, I Am Not A Racist

I'll lay this out very simply. It is my contention that many names given to Asian-American children of my generation are simply white people names from the 1950's; that is, names like Henry, Frederick, Eugene, Carol, and Joyce. Or Hubert, My parents, both born in the 50's, have two such names: Dennis and Sharon. If I were to meet another Dennis or Sharon, I would assume that they were either white people over the age of 45, or college students majoring in Engineering or possibly Biology.

To be fair, some Asian-American teenagers have names that began to die out in the 1930's or 40's. Someone named Esther will either be an elderly white woman in a retirement home, or a Korean teenager.

What are the reasons for this? Several come to mind. Many Asian-American parents, some unfamiliar with American customs and names, will select their children's names based on the names of their American contemporaries. Due to the Baby Boom, said contemporaries will likely be white people born in the 50's. I am sure that, should there be a Caucasian diaspora to Asia, white people would similarly flounder in choosing baby names.

Also, there's the Bible. Both white people from the 50's and religiously-minded Asian-Americans of today might well embrace names from the Good Book, like Esther, Judith, Joanna, Mary, or Felix. By the 1970's, the Bible had become less of an inspiration for white people names than the television program The Bionic Woman. The secularity of today's white people names only makes the retro nature of Asian-American names stand out even more.

Finally, contemporary white people names make no damn sense at all. There's names based on countries, seasons, ancient Celtic words, state capitals, presidential middle names, and virtues. I doubt that these trends will remain consistent, but if so, in 2053, we may many Vietnamese teenagers named Austin, Dakota, Madison, Britney, and Taylor. And I for one will be proud to have my own children - Melancholy, Winnipeg, Milhouse, and Michael - play badminton with any one of them.


And Michael. Like me.

Somehow my name found it's way into this cluster of "possible trendy Viatnamese teenage names in the future" examples.'
'Melancholy' isn't such a bad name - wait yeah it is. The child will be a very unhappy child once classmates start reading the dictionary.
'Winnipeg's' name root is unknown, but is speculated to come from a ritualistic Winnie the Pooh/headhunter sacrafice thing. scary stuff
'Milhouse' has glasses and blue hair - nuf said.

'Michael' is left, and I just don't know what to say. I guess when people shout "Michael!" in the future, a dozen gooks and I will say "Yes?"
A dismal future it is.

in japanese class there is a korean high school girl named eunice. i was disturbed too.

Sometime it works out to a close approximation of the sound of a person's actual name. A friend of mine in college was named Hao. He chose to go by Howie when his family moved to America. Then again, someone I work with is named Yin-Chun, but goes by Andrew.

Lots of kids get to pick their own American name either when they arrive in the US or when they're old enough to go to school. Even worse, sometimes other people get to name them. A friend of mine moved here with her family when she was a baby. Some friend of the family named her and her twin sister: Yvonne and Yvette. Her parents had no idea, not really knowing much English, and that was that, the names stuck.

I knew a girl named Y Chun that went by Eugenia (very very 50s if not 40s.
But who am I to judge? I'm naming my girls (in order) Prudence, Constance, and Chastity.
My boys, Rough Nizami and Tough Nizami.

so what are the english phonetic equivalents of vietnamese favorites phuc and bich?

really, if my original name were in another language and it weren't at all guaranteed to translate into something unembarrassing, i think i'd be fairly glad to choose something like Horace or Myrtle instead of trying to go with the original. at my work we have a collection of interesting library patron names, among them a pair of thai folks who are undoubtedly very wonderful but who are also, unfortunately, saddled with the names Supaporn and Sasiporn.

really, give me Darlene any day. at least people won't think i'm playing a trick on them when i make hotel reservations over the phone.

stop me before i begin another sentence with "really"!

I met a Korean girl names Eunice TODAY!! This very night, in a hookah bar of all places.

Nizami backwars is IMAZIN, and I love that because of this your licence plate can be construed to say, "I'm Asian," Khurram!

Really, stop it.
Yvonne and Yvette? That sucks.

What's wrong with traditional names? I happen to LIKE those names, and will never name my kid anything too trendy. My children will have names like Andrew, Elizabeth, Michael or Katherine.

I kwite like modern names with a difference, like ones that u don't hear every day, I thought of:
Modesty, Remedee, Shayla, brioni, Nia, Briyanna and Jaimon/Dont� for a boy but im not 2 sure, sumtimes traditional names can be nice but I just can't stand really boring names like Matthew or Sue, having just sed that i absolutely hate my name coz itz just reely typical.

c ya
luv sz

isn't shayla that name that the character on sex and the city came up with to name her daughter?

Like, oh my Go-od,
this dicussion was, like, sooo last year.
I'll name my kid after a kid my sister teaches in her 2nd grade class.
Shithead. (shi-tay-ed)
Poor kid.

What is my name in korean?

Just found out my husband and I having a boy. I want to give him a Korean name that isn't too weird in English. Was thinking of the name Jaymin. Which can mean heavenly prime minister (loose translation). Anyone know of alternate meanings (characters) for this name?

Jaymin, pron. 'Yaymin' is old Flaams (Dutch) for a bovine placenta.

We're expecting in December - dunno if it's a boy or girl - but am keen on Darius or Emile for a boy. Girl??? No idea.

Darius is the name of a failed pop star here in GB
Emile after a black, English footballer.

Connotative or not I like 'em.

I like the biblical and Koranic names such as Noah, Yaccoub, Joshua, Isaac, Jonah, Aaron... these names can be found in the Bible and Koran .. love it ..

My friend at work is have a baby in the next few weeks, we have spent all day trying to find a name for her and have so far came up with Lailani (which is also my daughters name), Kayla and Tae. We also found some really weird names. The most unusual name we found was a spanish name - Doloresazucena which means Painful Flower.
Strange but true....

i have a friend named jennymae. she combined an american name with her chinese name to create a hybrid name. i thought it was very cool. other ideas: andrew + wei = andrei, which im thinking of taking. any opinions?

People will think your kid is Russian, which is a clever bit of misdirection on your part. The name "Chone" is rising in popularity these days, so you might want to get on that bandwagon now, before it fills up.

I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Winnie the pooh was aparently named after the city, I think the owner of the actual bear lived here or something.

Winnipeg is a north american native (aboriginal) word meaning "Muddy Waters".

Being saddled with such a normal name, I tend to like unusual names as well. My mother when she told people what she was going to name me, they went "Ew, that's an old lady name." Now there are Katie's, Katy's, Kati's, etc. on every street corner.

My daughter's name is Haleigh. At least I got away with the unusual spelling. My ex-husband didn't like my non-normal name choices for her.

I'd post my future son's name, but I completely made it up and haven't been able to find it in any baby name databases, and I don't want anyone to steal it!

Well as far as kid names go... im only 15 and i allready know what im going to name all my kids.... Girls: Delaynie(DE-LAY-NEE) Teleshia (TEE-LAW-SHAY) Boy:Antwon (AN-TWAN)

Yah see its not that hard:)..... yes and i like my names!!

This is to long, you should make it a whole lot shorter. I thought it would be like a name list. THis is rediculously long. I'm sure many others complained about the same thing!!!!!

nhu is an asian name meaning princess for a girl!

I'm neither American nor Asian but in my country most of the names are American or English. Well I'm one of those few who are an exception! I like strange beautiful names. Boys: Glyndwr {Welsh} probably pronounced Glindveur {'eu'-french sound} and Gabryell {the same as Gabriel but with an unusual pronunciation}. Girls: Guinevere {Welsh} Pron: gwiniveea, Megan and Monalisa.

Other names which I like and are not unusual are Kyle, Steve, Daniel and Gilbert for boys. And Elizabeth, Deanna, Samantha and Sacha for girls.

I'm chinese and my three boys names are Andrew, Finley and Karsten. I think some easy names will make their life easier. I'm expecting our 4th child. If it's a boy, we are thinking Ezra might be good. And Coco for the girl.

I think the name June, is a awesome name for a young boy. It is the name of my brother and he is the coolest person you could ever meet. It means power and strength which is what people need.

I wish there more boy/girl names

Eh, I'm Korean, and my name is KiHyun/기현 (kee-yun). People have trouble pronouncing it, so I stick with Kia. My name was supposed to be Sarah, but they put that as my middle name. I'm actually pretty happy that my first name isn't Sarah, 'cause think about it. How many SARAH KIM's are there in the world?

If I had a child, I'd name him/her Dreaum (dray-um), originally from Dream, or Rayne (rane), the idea gotten from Rain.

Why not admit it, Asians are ashamed of their names and too cowardly to use their real neames. They will not even use a common American name like Joe or Mary. They gravitate toward safe, easy WASP names which are dry and boring, but may make WASPs feel better about letting them into a school or business or golf club. Asians, be a little braver! It is foolish to gain the world while losing ones soul, identity. America is ready for new names.

Frank Flanagan

American WASPS are ashamed of you, Frank. Your cock and your ignorant sense of humor are dry and boring.

I felt offended by this article, you say you're not racist but you make me think twice and now I wish I had never read this. The way you categorize people is horrible. I live on Maui and in Hawaii there's a lot of people of different nationalities with names that you seem to have problems with.
I have a friend from Korea named Joyce and we all love her and nobody has a problem with her name, if fact I like her name better then your children's names, a lot. So fuck off, this article shouldn't have been posted.
I hope you get the chance to read this and e-mail me back with your opinion.
I'm just a 12 year old girl from Maui who hates your ass. Not a Japanese girl who changed her name, but a 12 year old who was born and raised in America.

Sean, you made me smile. This is certainly one way of pondering how Asian-American parents name their children.

I'll share how my sons were named: my husband is Bengali and I am your atypical WASP American. We wanted our boys to have a name that represented their heritage but also easy for my English-only speaking parents to say. We settled on two Sanskrit (the ancient language of south Asia) names: Rohan and Rahul.

My opinion is parents should use names that the child will not feel "burdened" by: it's not so unusual to be embarassing, the spelling isn't too bizarre, and is fairly easy for society to pronounce, if after a few tries. The parents should also like the name. If Betty, Susie, Joan, Bill, Tom, and Eugene, fill the bill, then go for it. If Usha, Yun, Vikram, Jin, Yumiko, or Keiji fill the bill, then go for it.

I think , Sían, that you have forgotten that originally names were given to babies so that the baby would have that certain gift or characteristic.
My name, Mary means "perfect one," Kathryn means "purity." What a benchmark to live up to!!! If my parents knew the meanings, they would still pick the name. Every parent wants this for their off spring.
Think of last names. I live by the big tree down the street. My name might be Mary bigtree. In German Grossbaum. I have a friend whose last name is Timberlake. Guess where that came from? or Goodenuff?

Soooo-there are many reasons for names . They are not stupid. If I moved to Asia, I would pick an Asian name for my baby or child (if already named) close to the pronunciation of the American given name. Other than that, I would pick a name for my newborn with sounds in the Asian language that are pleasing to me.

If you want to know the reason for a name, ask the parents!

I think the lady above who named her kids Andrew, Finley and Karsten is mentally ill. That's why folks always make fun of Asian people.

I'm dutch, and my name is difficult for people to pronounce... I can totally understand people wanting to change their name so that they don't have to listen to it being butchered every day. My name is pronounce something like AL-TCHA, but I get everything from ALE to AGGIE to AGE to ALTEJA. For a while in High School, I went by ALLIE, but now I'm proud of my unique name.
Also... I was pleased to see that SOMEONE knew the origin of "Winnipeg". Does no one learn geography any more? I live near Grand Forks, ND, and Winnipeg is just North of me.

Naming my kid Jay K. Raja II, in all his Asian glory, and will refer to him as Junior. Perhaps I will even fake a Sean Connery accent.

ya know - i definitely see a trend in a Asian names but i haven't noticed the same one... the names ive been heraing are alex, jeremey, tiffany, tony, etc
i supposed tiffany fits your trend, but i cant be sure about the others =/

personally im a fan of very old names like cyrus and dominic and simon =] but im weird >..

i personally know 4 korean teenagers named Esther. :)

Don't hate! apericate! My name is Hungyu Citzaou III for Wanton, China. We are not American!! We is the Chinese peopo!! China is the new America!! GO GO CHINA GO GO!!!

I can't wait to see it!

Isn't Sean the name of the guy down my street? The 72 year old guy whose second wife just passed away? I'd be depressed if my name is Melancholy. You rather your child be melancholy than joyful? I think you need to see a doctor, asap.

I'm glad I saw this, big thanks!

I am 16 and I love "Old Peoples' Names."

I want to name my kids Matthew, Katherine, William and Genevieve. I really love the nickname Kitty for Katherine.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Keane published on September 28, 2003 11:02 PM.

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