Thursday, April 09, 2009

It's Way Too Hard

Texas legislator Betty Brown (R): Asian names are way too hard for Americans to deal with (this was in the context of a voter identification bill).
“Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” Brown said.

Brown later told Ko: “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

Okay, number one: If they're voting, that means they're citizens. If they're citizens, then they're Americans too.

But also, and not to play Brown's game here, when I think of stereotypical Asian names, I think what distinguishes them is their simplicity. Park, Chan, Ho, Wang, Chang, Tran. Quite simple. I'll put the average Chinese name up against Mike Krzyzewski any day (Krzyzewski doesn't even glance sideways at its phonetic pronunciation until the third syllable). But somehow, I doubt Ms. Brown is going to have a follow-up hearing to lecture Poles on their lack of American-ness.

1 comment:

PG said...

From the Chron: "they may have a legal transliterated name and then a common English name that is used on their driver license o[r] school registrations."

I would think the problem here is not Asian names, but inconsistent names on legal documents (and a driver's license IS a legal document). Either stick to your Asian name for all legal purposes, or have a "common English name" for all legal purposes, but don't mix them up. I can just imagine someone like Jindal signing up as "Bobby" at the DMV without having legally changed his name from "Piyush," and then getting in trouble at the border for his driver's license not matching his passport or something else.

I personally favor keeping one's birth name instead of changing it to assimilate, but I don't really care what you do so long as it is consistent.