Should Chinese Govt Ban Naming Babies with Foreign Language, Arabic Numerals and Symbols like “@”?

Last Revised on August 21, 2007

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There is an odd news floating around on the web. It is about the “@” character. There are over Sixty million Chinese people who are facing the problem with their names using ancient Chinese characters so obscure that even computers and fluent native speakers have hard time recognizing the names. Earlier this year the Chinese government has start to put a ban on naming babies with Arabic numerals, foreign languages and symbols that do not belong to Chinese minority languages.

A Chinese couple has recently tried to name their new born baby “@”. They claim that the massive amount @ character used in e-mail addresses worldwide is similar to how much they love their child.

“The whole world uses it to write e-mail, and translated into Chinese it means ‘love him’,” the father has explained to the deputy chief of the State Language Commission Li Yuming.

In Chinese Manadarin language, the word “ai ta” means “love him.” When pronouncing “@” which is same as “at”, Chinese people accentuate the letter “T” at the end. So at then end, the letter “@” or “at” does sound like “ai ta” or “love him” in Chinese language.

However the Chinese Deputy Chief of the State of Language Commission Li Yuming disagrees. He told at a news conference that naming the baby “@” is an extreme example of how people are increasingly taking adventurous approach to Chinese language, as commercialisation and the Internet are breaking down the old customs and conventions.

There is an another story where another couple had tried to name their baby that comes out as “King Osrina” in English although in their own language it meant something else.

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