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Child named with English letter, causing controversy
www.chinaview.cn 2005-11-05 09:32:27

    ZHENGZHOU, Nov. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- The keen interest that foreigners sometimes take in Chinese names and their meanings could become even stronger if present trends continue. As society diversifies and individual freedom increases, Chinese parents are racking their brains to give what is often their only child a unique name, sometimes a strange one.

    In Dengfeng city, some 700 kilometers south of Beijing, home to the Shaolin Temple famous for Kungfu, a father decided to name his newborn son "Hu D" -- Hu is the surname and the English letter D was the newborn's given name.

    The father, Hu Yu (not his real name), said he named his son Hu D, hoping his son would have a desire to create and innovate as he grew up. The name "Hu D" was chosen before the child was born, and would have been used regardless of gender, said the father.

    It was difficult, however, for the father to get this strange name recognized. The hospital where the baby was born refused to issue a medical certificate for the baby. The local police station said it would not register the name.

    The father was at a loss to understand. "I gave my son this name in the hope that he would be able to create and innovate when he grew up. Moreover, this name is out of the ordinary and easy to remember and write down," said Hu, citing the name "Ah Q" to explain the rationale behind Hu D.

    Ah Q was the character portrayed by Lu Xun (1881-1963), one of the most influential writers in China in the 20th century, in his famous short story, "The True Story of Ah Q".

    The hospital insisted the name was not suitable for a birth certificate. Dr. Li, in charge of the hospital, said his hospital had consulted local public security authorities responsible for newborn registrations. "We think it is better to name newborns with simplied Chinese characters instead of rare and strange characters," said Li.

    A woman at the Public Security Department of central China's Henan Province, where Dengfeng is located, told Xinhua that China's Public Security Ministry forbade Chinese from using English names when registering their residence and other information. "If it is an English name, it should be replaced with the proper Chinese equivalent," she said.

    A staff member with the Zhengzhou Public Security Department, in the provincial capital, said the computer system used for name registration would not recognize an English name.

    After running into so many snags, "Hu D"'s father had no choice but to change his son's name into one with two Chinese characters -- Hu Di. However, he said he would not give up on the original name of Hu D. "When I find out laws and regulations to support the original name, I will apply to have it revised," he said.

    While the name caused trouble for the father, it also triggered debate in society.

    A Zhengzhou-based middle school teacher, speaking anonymously, said the name looked more like a flubdub than a creation.

    "There are over 40,000 Chinese characters, with attractive shapes and pronunciation. Why give a name that consists of an English letter? If I had to call out his name someday, I would be wondering whether I was reading Chinese pinyin or spelling out English phrases," he said.

    Other people took sides with the father. Chen Guangtao, a Zhengzhou-based lawyer, said there was no specific prescription in any law or regulation in China on whether it was legal to process a baby's birth certificate and carry out registration procedures using the name Hu D.

    "Giving a name is a question of personal right and freedom. If the name doesn't violate principles or humiliate people, it could be used," said Chen.

    However, he suggested that from a practical point of view, it was better not to use rare Chinese characters or English words for names lest they cause unexpected trouble in daily life in the future. Enditem

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