What's in a Name?


If you think this is some dedication to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, well you would be wrong. What I mean by "What's in a name?" Is that of a name given to a Korean Child. As you know by now, I am kicking it in South Korea for a little while. The Just Kicking It team back in SA and in the Middle East have asked me on several occasions how do I remember the Korean children's names and how do I pronounce them? Well to be honest, they all have English names. And this is my question, why on Earth do they have these English names?
Now look at these kids below. Why would they need English names? This is something I asked my fellow staff members when instead of calling a student Son Jun Ho, I was calling him Mike. Well, one reason is because many of their parents want them to have a Korean name as well as an English name. They feel that if they are going to succeed in the language, or in the western world, they need a western name. In other situations if they don't have an English name, then the English teacher just gives them one....yes as simple as that, like namimg a hamster. Now if you have a best friend and you call him Mike, wouldn't you like to know that, that is not his real name.

I mean today I taught a class of 12 year old boys and one students English name was Susan! I admit I laughed, but why would someome give him a girls name. So not only must Ji Son now not be Ji Son anymore, but he must be good old Susan.



In Western culture, when we are married, the wife will take the husbands name. A once Sue Ridge Smith who marries John Pipe now becomes Sue Ridge Pipe, no matter how awkward the name may be. However in Korean culture, the wife will keep her fathers name. So When you see a Park Ji Sung, his name is not Park, rather it is Ji Sung, his surname or family name is Park So if he had a daughter, she will be Park _____ and when she marries she will remain Park. Her children however will take their fathers name. And this is how it works. I hope you understood all that. The reason for all that rambling is, if there is so much pride in keeping your family/fathers name, then why on earth do you need an English name. Yes I think English is the best language in the whole world, particularly because I do not hear it that often here, so it is a treat when I do. However, I have Portuguese heritage and my surname is De Andrade Pissarra. Yes that is a mouthful, and all throughout school I was asked if I wanted to shorten it and if there was an easier option. It pissed me off to no end, so I can only imagine how it must feel for these students, who must now learn that Susan is better then Jun Ho.

This was just a bit of a rant I felt I needed to have because, I feel that they should embrace their names. It's their name so why shouldn't I learn it, after all, I am the foreigner here, not them. I am the one who should be trying to learn their culture, not complaining that I can't even ask for directions to the nearest restroom (yes that happens daily). So the Korean Chronicles are in full swing and I must leave you now, because I am off to teach Susan and the rest of the gang how to buy a ticket at the bus station. Wish I knew how.



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