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Friday, July 21, 2006

Chinese Name 

When I was 15, the World's Fair came to New Orleans. I remember going several times during the summer with friends and family. I don't recall too many specifics, but I remember liking the Australia and Canada pavilions, as well as seeing the Space Shuttle up close, the fireworks, and riding the gondola across the Mississippi River. I also vaguely recall the Brazil exhibit having piranhas and a worry about what would happen if they escaped into the Mississippi.

In the China Pavilion, as I remember it, there was a large marketplace and in one of the booths a person would write your name on a bookmark in Chinese characters.* I think I still have that bookmark somewhere. (I run across it every now and then in a book and I keep meaning to put it where I can find it, but never do.) I remember that the calligrapher said to simply say my name two or three times and not to spell it, but I know I tripped up and started spelling at one point.

Fast forward to this morning, when I ran across a link to this About.com article on rendering English names in Chinese. According to the site, phonetically my name works out as 罗斯托马斯卡特 (Luósī Tuōmǎsī Qiǎtè), using last-name-first ordering. I remember the writing on the bookmark being fairly long, so that might well be how it was rendered, despite my attempt to spell things out. Of course, if I used the everyday form of my name, I guess it would be rendered as 茶卡特罗斯 (Chá Qiǎtè Luósī).

*Cool as that was, the Korean Pavilion had a calligrapher who painted Western names using birds, fish, plants, etc., to replicate the Latin letters. My mother had her name done by him; it looks a lot nicer than I'm making it sound here ...

[ADDENDUM The painting my mother had done was pictorial calligraphy (동물화/革筆畵), "an unheard art which has survived more than few hundred years in Korea."]

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Blogger Commenting:
You know, I never knew before what T. in your name stands for!
Well, I usually just tell people it stands for "The," but 茶 will work just as well, I think ...
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