I love the English nicknames in Taiwan.

Many Taiwanese adopt an English nickname.  Either the student or the parents, or sometimes the school, choose an English name for them based on a whim so that their English teachers have something to call them.  The foreign teachers  can’t pronounce the vast majority of Chinese names nor are inclined to try.  These names aren’t legal in any sense of the word. They don’t show up on any IDs, nor are they logged anywhere officially, yet these nicknames are so prolific that many people come to be known  by their English nicknames sometimes more than their Chinese names.

They were surprising at first because they aren’t your typical popular American names as well you might imagine.

Sure, there are some common names like Sean, or Kenny.  Kevin is very popular for no reason that I can discern.  I currently have in one of my classes a Brandon (very fashionable)  Eric, Brian and Justin.  But those are my youngest kids. For girls I hear names like Emily, Dora, Flora and Michelle.

Then I get the slightly less common names like Selina, Harry, Ariel, and Ellina.  Not too out there, but not quite common either.

There are entirely too many little girls called Angel and Candy around here.

We then move onto the truly old-fashioned names. And so I have Wilson, Gary, Gordon and Allen.  Not exactly popular names for kids these days.  For the girls I have Jasmine, Ginger, Nancy, Mabel, and (gah!) Miranda.  None of these will be making the top ten most popular names’ list this year. Or any time soon.

And then there are the kids and adults who have really odd names. I have an adult male student named Shine. I love his name.  He told me he picked it because it sounds like the first part of his Chinese name.   And he doesn’t see the absurdity of it at all.  I have an adult female student whose nickname is Mavis, pronounced Ma(ah)vis, rather than Ma(ay)vis. I have a Hansom (neither Handsome nor Hanson either of which would make more sense), a Mimi, a Soldier (pretty popular) and one Royal. I used to have an Ivan. Ivan?! Why for god’s sake?  That’s an anglicized foreign name for crying aloud.

I can’t forget Berffy.  Seriously, the sweetest nicest kid you’ll ever meet. How in the world did she get saddled with a name like that?

And then there’s Nemo. I think I like his name the best. He looks like a Nemo and acts like a Nemo.

Just look at him all Nemo like in his costume.

Nemo will destroy you.