Monday, March 03, 2008


My students handed their first piece of work in today, and now I get to puzzle out their names.

I'm used to Asian students who often have a name in their own language, and then an English name that they prefer to be used in class, although this makes for problems when they are listed on the roll as "Chen Liu"* and I get a piece of work that just says, "Amy". (Not to mention this means that they might be listed elsewhere in the university system as "Amy Chen" "Amy Liu", "Liu Chen," "Amy Liu Chen" or "Chen Liu Amy".)

But today I came across a first. An Australian student (with no detectable Asian background) who gave her name in class as "Jenny"*, but handed in work with the name "Alison Atkins", and explained that she doesn't like the name Alison, and prefers to be called Jenny. That's fine, until I look at my enrollment records, and all I have with that surname is a student listed as "Rebecca (Alison) Atkins."

Maybe Rebecca is her Chinese name...


* Don't worry, I made all these names up.


~profgrrrrl~ said...

Reminds me of a class of 12, 5 young men. During intros I meet Dave 1, Dave 2, and Dave 3 (all Davids on the roster). Then I get to Adam. He says "Hi, I'm Adam, but call me Dave."

We called him "Adamcallmedave" :)

Seeking Solace said...

I taught at an inner city college where the names were "La Tonya or Deshawn or some very bizzare spelling of a common name.

Anastasia said...

in my current region, people commonly go by their middle names and I've had lots of kids called "Trey" and listed on the roster as James Theodore Wilkins III. But nobody going by a totally random name.

PH taught at another school and had a lot of the names seeking solace mentions and some of those were listed as Lakeisha or Delonda or whatever and then in quotes "Jessica" or "Crystal" because that's what they've decided to go by.


Geeka said...

We have this guy in our department who names all the chinese students. We are all pretty good about calling people by their real names, or a derivative of it. For example, there is someone who's name is shushen, who goes by susie. But this guy, he randomly picks names. Like there is this post doc who he calls Tammy. Tammy's real name is ridiculously easy to say and doesn't have any letters in common with Tammy.

As someone who doesn't have a shorter version of my name, my mom gave me a nickname as a child. Because of this no one knew my real name until I was about 11. When I meet childhood friends it really freaks me out to be called by this name.

StyleyGeek said...

Grrr, Geeka, people like that guy make me mad. I used to cringe at the way teachers didn't seem to even bother to try to say people's Chinese names, but just go straight for the English one, but now that the shoe's on the other foot, I find a lot of the students feel strongly about wanting to be called by the English name they have chosen. Maybe they don't like to hear their real name mangled :) But making up a name FOR someone because you can't be bothered calling them what they want to be called - that's a whole other story.

Geeka said...

I have a long Polish last name that is also hyphenated.

I usually just let people say it however they want. It is when there are five turns of me saying it, them saying it wrong, that I get annoyed with.

That guy also has a grad student that has the same last name as him, but instead of her using her last name, she goes by (and this is what is on her visa) one name.

I can't ever figure out the name things.

CAE said...

I used to work with a lovely Chinese lady whose real name was Li Ping Cao.

The English name she'd chosen?



I always wondered how that happened and if someone set her up!

grace said...

CAE, that is hysterical. :-D

All we need now is the dish to run away with the spoon.

StyleyGeek said...

There's a song by Zed called "Oh Daisy" that has a line, "I won't get an answer from someone who was named after a cow, yeah".

Just randomly thinking...