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Chinese Mystery Explained: Humorous Names

Posted Jun 26 2010 12:00am

Describing my first day of teaching at Tsinghua, I wrote :

The students did brief introductions. Many students appeared to think that one student’s Chinese name was humorous. This was briefly explained to me but I still have trouble believing it.

I don’t remember the brief explanation. At the time I didn’t know that my Chinese name sounds exactly like the word for eggplant, which has different characters. As the Tsinghua story suggests, this isn’t rare. I met a girl whose name sounds the same as China’s ruler. (Different characters, of course.) Anyway, it seems a blessing that my name has a humorous side and perhaps that’s what the parents in this case were thinking.

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