Opinions Wanted: Name

My given name is Chia-Yi. When I was 16, when I became an US citizen, I legally changed it to Joyce. I love my Chinese name...when spoken in Chinese. But when translated to English? Not so much. Kids at school called me Chia Pet.

The reason why I legally changed it to Joyce was purely because so it would be easier for others to pronounce, and, at that time, fitting in was important to me.

Now as a grown adult, I think if my Chinese name had been more pronounceable or translated correctly (it should be Jaiyee), I would have kept it. It's unique, different, and more meaningful. In a similar situation, my sister-in-law says the same about her own name.


When it comes to naming Baby A, I have always thought: AmericanFirstName ChineseMiddleName LastName. He/she will be born in the US, so it just makes sense to have an American name. The Chinese middle name is to signify his/her cultural root. Sounds good, right?

But hubs is less than enthused.

Baby A's name should just be: ChineseFirstName LastName. Why have an American name just so it would be easier for others to pronounce? And it's always the Koreans/Chinese/Taiwanese who change their names. You don't see the Japanese changing their names to John, Bob, or Mary.

"We need to be different!" he said.

I still like my version better, but I agree that if we make sure Baby A's Chinese name is easy to pronounce, then I would be willing to go that route.

I talked to a coworker about this and he also likes my idea better. He said that if the baby chooses to, he/she can go by the American first name or the Chinese middle name, but at least there will be an option.

Then I look at my friend Su-Ting LastName. Her name is pretty (both in sound and look). She simply goes by Su. No American name, even though she was born and raised here.

What do you think? My way or hub's way?

10/1/09 - Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts! They were all very helpful. On another note, I must had a case of "baby brain" when hubs and I had the conversation. Just want to clarify one point - besides the Japanese typically not changing their names, hubs also said it is the same with many Indians and other nationalities.


  1. I always wondered about this. I remember having so many Asian kids in my high school classes and envied their chance to pick their own name.

    The decision will be yours at the end, of course, but I just wanted to throw in my two cents and say it's really really hard to be constantly teased over your name and have your own teachers butcher it on the first day of classes. To this day I get knots in my stomach whenever I meet someone new.

    I think giving the child an option to choose is a good idea.

  2. I prefer it your way.

    Especially since the hubs has legally changed his name to his American name.

    Japanese names are also a lot easier to pronounce than Chinese or Korean names. People are always butchering my husband's. Japanese ones are fairly phonetic.

  3. Jaiyee is a cool name! :) My cousin's name is Man-shing. Rough name for a girl, right? I think picking a name that people won't likely tease and is easy to pronounce is key. Yan, Wen, Kailin, Ying and Yen are names of friends/family i know. You could also consider names that sound like American names like Li (Leigh). That's what my co-worker did. Good luck.

  4. i think you should just let it flow right now..
    i mean if you can find a chinese name you really liked( before baby A is born) then go with it.. but if you cant find one, then stick to the american name. i strongly believe that a name is very important for a 'person' so i think that you should find a name( both chinese and american) that you feel really suits the baby ( and the one that u and hubs liked of course :)

    also, is hubs last name a chinese name? if it is, i think its ok to have an american first name

  5. On the contrary, I never said we should be different. We should be who we are. Which in this case is Chinese. And it's not just the Japanese, but Indians as well and countless other nationalities that hold onto their names instead of changing them to something to accommodate others. Besides, whatever we go with, we'll make sure it means and sounds nice and will fit in with whether it's a boy or a girl. yup!

  6. I personally would go with a Chinese name. It is important maintain our Chinese roots particularly in a western country. Your child can choose to pick an American name later in his or her life if he/ she wishes to. Just my two cents worth! =)

  7. A good name choice is important - your name ends up, in way, defining you and your personality.

    Some people overcome bad or unwanted names with nicknames. My parents left me without a middle name so I could choose one for myself - not that I ever did.

    There must be some chinese names that we Americans won't "butcher" and "managle" that are bright, cheery and reflect on you and your hubby's love for each other and for the little one on the way. :)


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