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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Understanding Chinese Students' Naming Culture: What's up with Wing-Yu and Fish?

Author(s):
K Y Ngeow
Y Kong
The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Names are the mirror of a society or of a cultural group. This paper recognizes the significance of names (or of naming culture) not only as a phonological and semantic phenomenon, but also as an invaluable source of social and cultural insight into the identity and the character of the individual. Insights into a student's cultural orientations can be derived from investigating the individual's choice when adopting a Western name, or in finding out, why a Chinese name was intentionally “westernized”.

In this paper, the presenters argue that knowing where Chinese students 'are coming from' is essential if a non-Chinese teacher wishes to bridge the linguistic and cultural divide that commonly exists between the “foreign” teacher and “local” students, and offer support for this through a better understanding of the naming culture that exists amongst Chinese students in the 21st century.

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