How Chinese People Choose Their English Name

“How did you choose the name Alan?” I asked a Chinese guy named Alan. His real, Chinese name existed in characters and now, due to modern developments in the world, in pinyin. But his parents never assigned him Alan.

“Oh, my English teacher in school gave it to me.”

“How did he choose Alan?”

“He said I looked like an Alan.”

Then I remembered Peter Hessler (as described in River Town) doing the same thing when he taught an English class. He went around the room on the first day of school, gave everyone an English name, and that’s the one they carried for the rest of their life.

Wouldn’t that be fun? “Ok, you’re a Chuck. You, well, you look like a Dick. Yep, I think Dick is just about right.”

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