Living with two names, just like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde …
The practice of adopting Anglo names among ethnic minorities and foreign individuals may be intended to smooth interactions with majority group members, but it may also have negative implications for minorities themselves. Xian Zhao, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto whose research focuses on ethnic name pronunciation, showed that about half of Asian international students surveyed who attend US universities had adopted Anglicized versions of their given names to make it easier for others to pronounce them.
Among others, participants responded to three items about their own names:
- (Anglicization of name) “Do you use an English name in the U.S.?”;
- (Pronouncing Asian name) “How well can American people pronounce your name?”;
- (Remembering Asian name) “To what extent do American people remember your name?”
His findings point to negative consequences associated with adopting Anglo names. Researcher uncovered a pattern showing that the use of an ‘Anglo’ name is associated with lower levels of self-esteem, which can also be an indicator for lower levels of health and wellbeing. These results contribute to the literature on the importance of names and shed light on interventions to improve intergroup relations and curriculum development in language teaching. The students had problems with the names like Korean Kyungja or Chinese Zhenghong.