Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What's In A Name?! Lots!

This morning's radio show had the DJs talking about names of companies that they came across. What's in a name?!. Lots, I should think.

I heard of someone, a Chinese gentleman, having a name, "Oh Oh Oh".

Last name: Oh.
Middle Name: Oh
First Name: Oh

No kidding! Imagine his anguish.

In fact, this type of bungle happened a lot in the old days here where some of the older Chinese folks (immigrants) were not quite so literate. Being in a foreign land with a foreign language altogether, complicated matters more.

This story is most apt.

What's In A Name

Walking through Chinatown, a tourist is fascinated with all the Chinese restaurants, shops, signs and banners. He turns a corner and sees a building with the sign, "Hans Olaffsen's Laundry." "Hans Olaffsen?", he muses. "How the heck does that fit in here?"

So he walks into the shop and sees an old Chinese gentleman behind the counter.

The tourist asks, "How did this place get a name like "Hans Olaffsen's Laundry?"

The old man answers, "Is name of owner."

The tourist asks, "Well, who and where is the owner?"

"Me, is right here," replies the old man.

"You? How did you ever get a name like Hans Olaffsen?"

"Is simple," says the old man. "Many, many year ago when come to this country, was stand in line at Documentation Center. Man in front was big blonde Swede. Lady look at him and go, "What your name?" He say, "Hans Olaffsen."

Then she look at me and go, 'What your name?'" "I say, Sem Ting."


  1. Hi Happysurfer.

    Yeh good one, made me laugh. [Aha Soo] springs to mind.

  2. LOL!!! That was good!!

    Now, the first gentleman, Mr Oh, should name one of his sons Oh Seven..

  3. and his daughter Oh Noh..

  4. I do know that someone has the name Lily Lee.

  5. Hi Mick, yeah, names can make us laugh, especially Chinese names because a name can have different meanings in different dialects. Even surnames can come out totally different!

    Glad you enjoyed that.

  6. LB, I think Mr Oh would have wisened up and not make the same mistake his dad made.

    Oh Seven and Oh Noh? Great thinking but really, oh no!!

  7. KS, that probably could be by choice as most Christian names here are. The authentic ones are registered Chinese names such as Ng Fatt Tatt or Lau Char Bor just to name two. No offence to anyone but you get the picture.

  8. poor Mr Ting

    or Mr Sem.. to be ethincally correct

  9. It's always fun to hear jokes about funny names. And it doesn't only implicate chinese. Many sarawakian names sound really weird in malay or english. Pity those who carry such predicament. That's why we choose our own time and space to savor the joke, and I guess the named person have gotten used to it and doesn't take it personally.

  10. Ah, that was brilliant! Most refreshing! Thanks!

  11. Though I've read some forwarded e-mails about interesting names in Chinese, still a funny one to enjoy reading. :-)

    I recall I checked our local phone book long time ago, I found a man's name is [ε“ˆδΉζ˜Ÿ]. {ha..ha..ha.}

    Thus, please give your son/daughter's name carefully.^_^

  12. Yeah lah, Robin, poor Mr Sem. The registration lady killed his lineage!

    Agus, Sarawakian names too? I thought only the Chinese get the brunt of it because our names are normally made up of two or three syllables, good enough to make up specific meanings. I guess this transcends ethnicity.

  13. Glad you enjoyed that, MM.

    PP, thanks for sharing that. I believe some names are given for a reason or with a special meaning or even with the desired number of strokes as in Chinese characters. Some Chinese folks go to that extent hoping for a good life for their offspring.