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Blog // Travel
May 13, 2006

What’s In A Name

One of the interesting issues you face moving to Hong Kong (as you do in other East Asian destinations), is creating a business card for yourself and choosing how to transliterate your name into the local language. I was reminded of this looking at Matt Stone’s comments on representing the name in Jesus in Chinese […]

One of the interesting issues you face moving to Hong Kong (as you do in other East Asian destinations), is creating a business card for yourself and choosing how to transliterate your name into the local language.

I was reminded of this looking at Matt Stone’s comments on representing the name in Jesus in Chinese script. The issue is not just about matching Chinese letters to a European name, there is also an aesthetic and poetic element. Each name is made of characters that carry other meanings, like wealth, beauty, devotion, peace, wisdom and so on. Moreover, the elegance or counterpoint of their combination is significant as well.

The idea of one’s name as a work of art can be a little jarring to us westerners, acustomed as we are to treating our name in a more functional and pragmatic way. But there are profound links between our name and our character, between our name and our identity as, well, as a brand.

It used to be that our name was tied to our reputation, though these days reputation matters less than fame. Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, is perhaps one of the great meditations on the significance of the name/reputation relationship. One’s name, one’s good name (and good reputation) carried with it the right to participate in society. When John Procter proclaimed,

Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!

it was not a question of fame, like the current obsession. It was peace of mind, character and finally one’s standing in the eyes of God. What’s in a name? everything that has eternal signficance.

[tags] Missiology, Ethics [/tags]

Responses
Toni 17 years ago

Prince.

(chuckles)

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