Couple tries to name baby 'at' symbol
BEIJING — A Chinese couple seeking a distinctive and modern name for their child chose the commonly used Internet 'at' symbol, much to the consternation of Chinese officials.
The unidentified couple and the attempted naming were cited Thursday by a Chinese government official as an example of bizarre names creeping into the Chinese language.
The father "said 'the whole world uses it to write e-mails and translated into Chinese it means 'love him,'"' Li Yuming, the vice director of the State Language Commission, said at a news conference.
The symbol pronounced in English as 'at' sounds like the Chinese phrase "love him."
Written Chinese does not use an alphabet but is comprised of characters, sometimes making it difficult to develop new words for new or foreign things and ideas.
In their quest for a different name, Li said that the parents of baby '@' were not alone. As of last year, only 129 surnames accounted for 87 percent of all surnames in China, Li said, suggesting that the uniformity drove people to find more individual given names.
"There was even a 'Zhao-A,' a 'King Osrina' and other extremely individualistic names," Li said, according to a transcript of the news conference posted on the government's main web site.
Li did not say whether police, who are the arbiters of names because they issue identity cards, rejected baby '@' and the others. But nationwide last year there were 60 million people's names that used "unfamiliar characters," Li said.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
This is probably the most unusual use for the @ sign we've seen, and we had no idea what the sound "at" meant in Chinese. Read on: