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November 22, 2014

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Chinese Students Decision Making about their Names

Chinese Students Decision Making about their Names

Jianan Mo

One of the trickiest things when Chinese students choose to study abroad is deciding on whether to change their names or not. Whether to choose an English name as a Chinese student is a hot topic in the Chinese student community. Names are used for identifying people and names can somehow influence how Chinese students are treated by others. I have done interesting research this week about why my Chinese friends decide to choose English names or keep their Chinese names.

Some of them decided to choose English names because:

First, it is really hard to pronounce a Chinese name. Chinese is really complicated, since the slightest changes in tone can create a totally different pronunciation. Changing tones is really hard for English speakers. Therefore, they prefer to choose popular English names which are easier for others to pronounce, such as Nancy, Helen and Lucy.

Second, my friends are tired of correcting their names again and again when introducing themselves. One of my friends named Linzi, which is pronounced in two words in Chinese, like Lin Tze, but this is incorrect. In English people call her Lindsay every time she tries to introduce herself. Because this is not her name but people keep saying again and again, this made her feel embarrassed. Therefore, she decided to choose Lindsay as her English name instead.

Third, some of my friends think English names can help them to find better jobs or get more interviews. I have heard that interviewers seem likely not to choose participants with Chinese names because they are afraid to make a mistake on pronunciation.

Some of my other Chinese friends still think they will choose to keep their Chinese names (including me), because:

First, it will be difficult for others to find Chinese students on a social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook if they use English names in their lives while keeping formal Chinese names in their profiles. For example, I used an English name when I was in first year at Laurier. One of my friends complained to me about my different names in school and on Facebook. She said she tried to search for me five times on Facebook and couldnt find me. I felt so embarrassed, so I decided to keep my Chinese name.

Second, some Chinese students think changing their names to English names is unnecessary. A name was the first gift your parents gave you when you were born. Some Chinese students think changing their names are not showing respect to their parents. Also, If you dont recognize yourself as a foreigner, others wont. This is what my friend told me when I hesitated whether to choose an English name or keep my Chinese name.

I believe if someone truly wants to make friends with you, they will try to learn how to pronounce your name!

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Event: The Edna Staebler Award Presentation

The Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction is being presented on Thursday, November 13, 2014 to Arno Kopecky, author of The Oil Man and the Sea: Navigating the Northern Gateway.

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Playing with words

Here's one of my favourite photos from last night's Long Night Against Procrastination.

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4am Bananagram fun at the Long Night Against Procrastination

Trouble Writing? Try Reading.

Trouble Writing? Try Reading.
By Seth Adema

As a writing tutor, one of the more common problems people come to me with is that they do not know where to start their papers. Once they do get their essays rolling, they have a hard time finding the words to communicate their ideas. I would like to humbly suggest one approach to finding the language you need to say what you want to say: read.

Lets start with an assumption that you are keeping up with your assigned readings in the course or courses that you are writing for. Obviously, reading course material will keep you informed on the issues relevant within your course and, by extension, the field within which you are writing. It also should give you an idea for how the scholarly discipline tends to work. It may seem obvious, but it is worth stating that scholars in the humanities write differently than those in the sciences. By keeping up on your readings, you will be able to write in an appropriate way for your reader, the professor or TA. At the Writing Centre, we call this the Academic Genre.

But this is not what my blog post is about. I expect that you are keeping up with readings, and, if you arent, a blog post will not be what convinces you to start up assigned readings. I imagine your marks and feedback is a better way to get that message across anyways. If you are really looking for ways to build your writing skill set, you need to read outside your discipline as well. Read novels. Read newspapers. Read magazines.Read. Here is why:

First, good academic writing does more than present the material; it tells a story. By reading more widely, you will be exposed to more ways of telling stories.

Second, you will expose yourself to more ways of seeing the world. That is, after all, the purpose of a university education. For example, when you read a memoir or a biography, you might have insight into course material that you would otherwise miss.

Third, you will stay mentally healthy. Reading should not be a chore, but if all your reading is technical or academic, the odds are you will not enjoy opening a book. This is an easy way to take time to yourself, turn down the volume on the stresses of your academics, but still have some take-away benefits in your academic writing.

If you are looking for somewhere to start, here are some helpful websites:

Laurier Reads

CBC Books

Canada Council for the Arts - Governor General's Literary Awards

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Tutor Spotlight: Eric featured on Laurier's new website

We are so proud to see Eric Vero, one of our 4th-year writing tutors, featured on Laurier's new website. His passion for history definitely shines through this article. Congratulations, Eric!

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Click here to read about Eric's interests in history and research.

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