Old 05-26-2011, 05:18 AM #1
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Default What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

I'm sure that many people here have interacted with "Susie" from O-like, "Tony" from some other laser vendor, etc.

Can anyone here explain the cultural phenomenon of Chinese people presenting themselves with a casual Western first name?

Let me hasten to say, that I know for sure that this is NOT a marketing technique aimed at laser buyers from the West.

I do a lot of business in Singapore, and travel there a few times every year on business. Some of the Chinese people that I work with go by names like "Soo Peng, Chee Beng, Jin Siang, Wee Seng, Min Shung, Kum Kok".

Other Chinese people go by names like "Ryan, Edmund, Carol, Herbert", and my favorite, "Colonel Joe" (whom I have sat in many meetings with) , who is the second-in-command of the entire Singapore Navy.

My working relationship with these people is such that I've never asked them this question about their names.

But I find it fascinating that this custom extends to Chinese laser drop-shippers on mainland.

Anybody can explain in certain facts, what the cultural phenomenon is behind this custom?


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Old 05-26-2011, 05:21 AM #2
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Default Re: What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

I'd guess they just choose those names (online aliases) so people from North America will feel more comfortable chatting to them.
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Old 05-26-2011, 05:21 AM #3
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Default Re: What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

I always figured it was because people favor things that seem familiar. Therefore I am more likely to buy from "Honest John" at PriceAngels.com than from ching chong bing bong
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Old 05-26-2011, 05:31 AM #4
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Default Re: What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

Except that, professional Chinese people (Naval officers, System Engineers, etc.) that I work with overseas, also do the same "Edmund" thing en masse.

It's about a 50/50 split between Chinese names and western names like "Edmund".

They have no reason to try to make the person (me) they are interacting with comfortable (because they are not trying to sell me anything; I am trying to sell THEM something...). And, the people I work with would really rather NOT have to deal with someone from the West. I am a necessary inconvenience to them.

And they go by this name when I and no other person from the west is anywhere close.

It seems to be something else, which I'd like to understand.

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Old 05-26-2011, 05:34 AM #5
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Default Re: What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

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I always figured it was because people favor things that seem familiar. Therefore I am more likely to buy from "Honest John" at PriceAngels.com than from ching chong bing bong
So the US is so Racist that other Cultures have to Change there names so we Feel Comfortable? I'm Not trying to rag on anyone for there personal taste But just making a Observation seeking others Input as well...
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Old 05-26-2011, 05:45 AM #6
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Default Re: What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

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So the US is so Racist that other Cultures have to Change there names so we Feel Comfortable? I'm Not trying to rag on anyone for there personal taste But just making a Observation seeking others Input as well...
Yes. America is very racist.
Although, that can be argued now since we have a black (half) president
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:34 AM #7
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Default Re: What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

This article might help.

What's up with Chinese people having English names? - By Huan Hsu - Slate Magazine

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Old 05-26-2011, 04:32 PM #8
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Default Re: What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

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Sad they changed there names because WE (Westerners) were to rude to learn there names right. And now there school system is so Smart there poping out more English Educated Students than the US....
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:42 PM #9
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Default Re: What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

Hmm. That article, though the writer is indeed of Chinese descent, is still written from the PoV of a westerner. He states that English is basically the language of business (historically, at least), and I think that's where the details come in:

I'm not sure how true it is, but at the bank I work with, there's another customer who lives in China full time (a businessman, similar in situation to the person who wrote the linked article, of Chinese heritage) , only back home for business reasons from time to time.

He tells me:

1) They generally hate us over there. (In his opinion.) They may speak pleasantly, and interact politely, but they cannot stand Americans and say very derisive things about them whenever our backs may be turned. (This of course isn't 100%; but I'd be interested to have someone on the forum here who is from China to refute it, and to what degree.) This bit is important to note only because it underlines that they aren't taking westernized names because they idolize or admire our culture. They sure don't. And they sure aren't doing it as a courtesy to us, to make our interactions easier. So this means the reasoning is more complex...

2) A lot of stress is put on, culturally, for them to 'impress the West' and be seen as a significant influence upon the West. An anecdote, that this businessman told me: "When Celine Dion was performing over there" (yes I know she' s Canadian) - "One of the interviewers asked her, 'What do you think of China's global power?'" - this apparently had her kind of taken aback and unsure of how to respond. But businesses don't run only for themselves over there, groups like CNI likely even do quite a bit for the "Glory of China".

So I'm guessing that the westernized names, whether for direct business transactions or not, are taken to at least show a projection into Western culture. And a statement of control, and 'membership' in global dialogue outside of just China. "We're here, and we have a lot of influence. We know what's up in the West, and we matter globally." They wish to matter in China, and in the Western world, so, why not choose a Western name, to display your influence and relevance outside of your domestic space? Everyone within China knows that's not their given name, so locally, folks know the story.

It's a very different way of thinking over there. I wouldn't say it's because we're "too racist to understand their names". This is done completely voluntarily on their part, and not due to difficulty. Honestly, they likely couldn't care less if Americans could pronounce their names. A woman I worked with whose real name was "Mieh" went by "Jenny". She told me she picked it because "American men respond well to it". I think it's less of, "You Americans will respect our culture" and more of "Oh, your culture? We can do that, too. No problem. We've got that covered. Along with this whole business and global power thing."

It'd be interesting to get inside the mindset. "Ava" and "Susie" and the like, I'm sure it's all busness, all the way. They aren't changing their names for our benefit. They're adopting Western names for their benefit, in social and business terms, pure and simple. If you want to do business in Germany, it's better to be able to speak German. If you want to do business in the US, it's better to have a name that a Westerner can 'relate' to, which would likely make them more likely to do business or close a deal.
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:48 PM #10
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Default Re: What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

"Ching Chong Bing Bong"....You almost got me busted for being on the internet at work, Moh!

"what are you laughting at?" Me: ...nothing...hehe
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Old 05-26-2011, 07:13 PM #11
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Default Re: What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

When I sell in China my name is Wang hung lo...
This way they will think I'm one of theirs....
even though my Chinese grammar is as bad as
their English...

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Old 05-26-2011, 07:16 PM #12
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Default Re: What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

I'll pay homage to Sixteen Candles, and name myself "Long Duck Dong"
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Old 05-26-2011, 07:24 PM #13
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Default Re: What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

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When I sell in China my name is Wang hung lo...
This way they will think I'm one of theirs....
even though my Chinese grammar is as bad as
their English...

Jerry
I like Sum Yung Kunt myself.

Great explanation aryntha.
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Old 05-26-2011, 07:26 PM #14
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Default Re: What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

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I like Sum Yung Kunt myself.

Great explanation aryntha.
It's what I use..... not what I like....

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Old 05-26-2011, 07:36 PM #15
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Default Re: What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

Whenever a lady there asks for my name, I go by "Sitomi Face".

They guys there know me by my other name, "Epic Nguyen"

Edit: I also couldn't help but hear Jerry Seinfeld's annoying voice when I read the title of this thread, lol.

Last edited by Lotus_Darkrose; 05-27-2011 at 06:42 AM.
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Old 05-27-2011, 12:16 AM #16
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Default Re: What's up with Chinese people named "Susie", "Tony", etc?

I am kind of surprised, that nobody picked up on the fact that one of the people I work with in Singapore is named Kum Kok.

We refer to him as "KK" when we are in the USA...
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