On the Names of things and humans - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-31-2020, 03:29 AM Thread Starter
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On the Names of things and humans

This thread is so random, but I'll post it anyway.

(1) Middle names?

Can someone explain Middle names for me? I mean I think I know what they are, but people don't generally believe me when I explain them (they think it's the father's name).

Also how common do people use middle names? Do you guys have middle names? And do some people really have two or three middle names?

(2) Chinese 'alternative' names?

Why do a lot of Chineese people (China, Tiwan) have "additional" names in English? I mean I can understand it being useful because the actual names may be hard to pronounce, etc. But I find it a bit weird, especially since China seems very nationalistic.

They don't just do that with English though. The ones that specialize in ME stuff have additional Arabic names. Even just youtubers


And I assume for other cultures they do the same.

If someone has a Chinese background, can you explain this to me?

(3) Really long names

I think there are some bizarrely long place names in the UK. I mean can you really pronounce that

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysilio gogogoch

I think Indians have similarly long names (people names)


Also, this poor African dude:

I can sort of emphasize because my name is 4 syllables and I HATE that. :'D

There should an international law against >3 syllable words -__-

(4) bin?

Saudis and other Gulf people should stop using bin in their names. John son of Smith?
You can tell MBS is not a true reformist because he isn't called Mohammed Salman. \jk
It's not even like correct classical Arabic either. It should be "ibn" not "bin".


You can add whatever things you consider weird. Or respond to whatever.

This thread isn't really about something specific.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-31-2020, 03:47 AM
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1. Middle names vary a lot across the world. In Latin America people usually have 4 names, with two given names plus the last names of both parents (first father's last then mother's last -- so they could think of the father's last name as being middle). In China/Tawian/Korea it's standard to say all three of their names when talking about someone (family name first, then the two given names). In some countries middle names don't exist or are rare. In the USA, middle names are pretty universal and are sort of alternate first names picked by the parents -- but rarely actually spoken/shared except for official business (and a few people who decide to use their middle name in place of their first name). They're helpful because there are way too many people who have the same first and last name. Sometimes people just use their middle initial to distinguish.

2. Due to the distance between the languages, for an English speaker Chinese names are really difficult to memorize how to pronounce. I've been watching Taiwan baseball all year and it took printing out a sheet and practicing to just remember most of the names on the team I root for, let alone other teams. If they have English alternative names it's so much easier.

3. That's Welsh. Welsh is weird and nobody outside Wales gets it. I suspect most Welsh people don't get it either.

5. The thing that's a lot odder to me is how, at least in Taiwan, they change their Chinese names often. What's the point of a name if it can't identify you because you change it every 5 years? It's like the people who keep changing their SAS usernames.

6. And why does the order of names change when they use initials? E.g. it's Lin An-Ko when writing out the full name but A.K. Lin when using initials.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-31-2020, 04:18 AM
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1. I have a middle name. I don't know how common having two is, I think my dad has two. Don't really know why middle names exist.

2. I don't have a Chinese background and I think there are probably many different reasons, but from what I know it was historically common for Chinese people to adopt multiple names. Link talks about it:


Until the mid-1900s in China, a person would normally inherit their father’s xing, or surname, at birth. Later, at 100 days old, the baby would be given a ming, a personal name chosen by the parents. At the beginning of adulthood — usually age 20 for men and age 15 for women — the individual would be granted an alternative personal name, or a zi. In the Confucian society of ancient China, it was common courtesy to address people using their zi.

Apart from the three kinds of formal names, a self-chosen name known as a hao was also very popular. The zi of the famous Tang dynasty poet Li Bai was “Taibai,” but to this day many Chinese know him by two hao: “The Lay Buddhist of Qinglian” and “The Banished Immortal.” The latter came from a tenet of folk wisdom, which dictated that those who had misbehaved in heaven were frequently exiled to the human realm and became people of great talent.

From the first half of the 20th century onward, as China began to modernize, the practice of taking zi and hao began to die out. Today, most Chinese have only xing and ming. Against this backdrop, the current trend toward taking English names can be viewed as a form of cultural resurgence — a continuation of ancient tradition with a modern twist.

More accurately, English names today play the same role as hao did in traditional China. Both are self-chosen and aim to reveal an aspect of the individual’s personality. In imperial China, the literati would commonly hold several hao at the same time, each intended to shine a light on a different side of their characters or reflect a valuable experience from their lives.

In the same way that one’s hao was bound by certain social conventions, so too are English names subject to certain rules. In today’s China, English names may be commonly used among Chinese colleagues in the workplace but almost never in a familial context or among best friends. As a form of address, English names imply a certain amount of distance between speakers. In this way, these adopted monikers allow people to embody different social identities, in the same way that xing, ming, and hao denoted social boundaries in former times.
3. I don't think that's really common here. That's Welsh and I think that was actually made up for a publicity stunt and was originally Llanfairpwllgwyngyll. Other place names aren't anywhere near that long anywhere in the UK.

This is how it's pronounced btw:

"Help. I'm dying"
"Stay calm, sir. What's your location?"
"Just let me die."

4. bin just makes me think of computer files.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-31-2020, 08:00 AM
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Yeah my middle name is my fathers name, it's a very common name, but I rarely use it, my brothers middle names are a grandfather & an uncle, sisters middle name is grandmother's.

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death
Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow,
A poor player that strut's and fret's his hour upon the stage and is heard no more,
It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
- Macbeth
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-31-2020, 08:44 AM
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I only have one middle name, but my eldest sister had two. Hers were our great great grandmother’s name and our mum’s middle name. My next sister has our grandmother’s name as her middle name and the one before me has our eldest sister’s name as her middle name.

My middle name wasn’t anyone else’s name, but my first name is similar to the name of someone my parents knew who used to look after my two eldest sisters when the eldest one had cancer.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-31-2020, 01:36 PM
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Everyone in my family has one middle name. That's very common here. All the first and middle names we were given by our parents are "family" names -- names that have been carried down through the family for generations. I was named after an uncle that died, and my middle name came from a great uncle or something. My siblings broke that tradition naming their kids and just gave them whatever names they liked (and some of them are a little odd).

My friend is Welsh. I should ask them if they can pronounce that.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-31-2020, 03:38 PM
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Tbh I forget my middle name even exists because it never gets used. It's not on most documentation I have either.

Originally Posted by YouTube comment
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-01-2020, 04:46 AM
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I think in the West traditionally middle names were just to honour someone in their family.

My first name is the same as my father's and my middle name was my maternal grandfather's.
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