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Texas Lawmaker suggests Asians adopt easier names.


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#1 pacifickarma

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 05:14 AM

http://www.chron.com...nt/6365320.html

AUSTIN — A North Texas legislator during House testimony on voter identification legislation said Asian-descent voters should adopt names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.”

The comments caused the Texas Democratic Party on Wednesday to demand an apology from state Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell. But a spokesman for Brown said her comments were only an attempt to overcome problems with identifying Asian names for voting purposes.

The exchange occurred late Tuesday as the House Elections Committee heard testimony from Ramey Ko, a representative of the Organization of Chinese Americans.

Ko told the committee that people of Chinese, Japanese and Korean descent often have problems voting and other forms of identification because they may have a legal transliterated name and then a common English name that is used on their driver’s license on school registrations.
Easier for voting?

Brown suggested that Asian-Americans should find a way to make their names more accessible.

“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?”

Democratic Chairman Boyd Richie said Republicans are trying to suppress votes with a partisan identification bill and said Brown “is adding insult to injury with her disrespectful comments.”

Brown spokesman Jordan Berry said Brown was not making a racially motivated comment but was trying to resolve an identification problem.

Berry said Democrats are trying to blow Brown’s comments out of proportion because polls show most voters support requiring identification for voting. Berry said the Democrats are using racial rhetoric to inflame partisan feelings against the bill.

“They want this to just be about race,” Berry said


Wow, really? My wife is Asian and has a name few "white folks" can pronounce, but no one has ever suggested she change her name to make their life easier!

#2 SteveMcQ

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 05:29 AM

That's fucking idiotic. Maybe put more money into the education system so kids grow up and not be so ignorant like this sad excuse for a public servant. I'm seriously amazed at how so many people have issues pronouncing non-traditional names, let alone properly identifying where you're from.

I'm not expecting anyone to be able to say what region of China or Cambodia someone is from, but I've run across my fair share of folk who think black hair and funny name means you're Chinese. Kids grow up and call you Chinese or something and think it's funny.

She's probably the type who goes overseas and gets pissed off because other people don't speak English.

#3 Kapwanil

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 05:30 AM

Sounds like she needs more tact rather than anything else. OK, maybe a smack (or two) upside the head.

That and, having dealt with many, many volunteers at polling locations, they usually have far greater problems with the intricacies and complexities of the absolutely unheard of system of "alphabetical order." Let's master that sticky wicket before we try and worry about the difficulties of asking people something akin to "I'm sorry, I can't seem to find your name on the sheet. Perhaps it is under a different first or last name?"

#4 Strell

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 05:32 AM

I bet she has a lot of trouble ordering General Tso's chicken.

Besides, people can and will Fuck up every name in the damned phonebook. I've found out people generally don't look past the second syllable in ANY names, and then just make shit up the rest of the way. Pretty astounding, really. If your last name is more than four letters long, idiots out there are going to ruin it. Repeatedly. Across all languages, countries, borders, whatever.

Which is a another way of saying that everyone has short attention spans as well as names in ANY culture can be difficult to pronounce to at least someone.

I guess if my name were as boring as "Betty Brown" I'd have a hard time realizing all of that outside my tiny, tiny sphere of relevance to the rest of the world.


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#5 DQT

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 05:58 AM

Why of course! Voter identification will be the first fucking thing I think of when I name my children.

#6 Strell

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 06:00 AM

I don't believe you. "DQT" is pretty hard to pronounce.


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#7 Z_meista

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 06:16 AM

stupid idiot...

#8 judyjudyjudy

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 06:21 AM

Aside from her retarded comments, isn't the problem that Asian-Americans are trying to do what she is asking for? There's issues with identification because of a mismatch in names due to Asian-Americans trying to take on names that are supposedly easier for non-Asian-Americans to deal with. And I can't believe she's telling some guy named "Ko" that Chinese names are hard to deal with.

I bet she has a lot of trouble ordering General Tso's chicken.

I'd totally vote for legislation to standardize the name of this delicious dish. I'm Asian, and even I have trouble ordering it. (It's General Gao's around here.)

Besides, people can and will Fuck up every name in the damned phonebook. I've found out people generally don't look past the second syllable in ANY names, and then just make shit up the rest of the way. Pretty astounding, really. If your last name is more than four letters long, idiots out there are going to ruin it. Repeatedly. Across all languages, countries, borders, whatever.

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#9 epobirs

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 06:40 AM

Perhaps she hasn't noticed but large numbers of Asians already DO adopt Western names for a variety of reasons. It can make it easier to do business with Western clients and simplify social interactions. For wouldbe celibrities it can be a vital choice. SAG members often adopt a stage name or emphasize their middle initial or some other tactic because some other union member is already operating under the name they've had all their life. Thus Michael J. Fox as opposed to just Michael Fox. (The singer who works as Katy Perry is really Kate Hudson but uses the nickname combined with her mother's maiden name to avoid being confused with the actress of the same name.)

It can be a lot harder for someone trying to break into showbiz in a culture where seemingly half the kids in your graduating class were named the equivalent of John Smith. Chow Yun Fat is one of the few well-known HK stars who hasn't done this to become more globally marketable but his name lends itself to easy comprehension by western readers.

Sometimes this doesn't work as intended when too small a pool of names is used. I once saw a action movie that had no fewer than four actresses all going by the name Maggie playing the main characters. There was a token Anita to break things up. It was like the Monty Python sketch.

"Anita? That sounds confusing. Is it alright if we just call you Maggie?"
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#10 will530

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 07:06 AM

Deport her ass to China and change her name to Chen Hu Lin, so it's easier for us Chinese people to deal with.
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#11 HotShotX

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 09:49 AM

It came from Texas, so I'm not surprised. I suspect if they had their way, everyone would be forced to change their name to something with no more than 5 letters per word.

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#12 camoor

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 12:25 PM

Just like King of the Hill

So... are you Chinese or Japanese?



#13 detectiveconan16

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 12:38 PM

Well, I'm Asian and a Liebowitz.
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#14 dcfox

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 12:44 PM

Asian names aren't really that hard to pronounce compared to other ethnic surnames. Have you seen a Polish last name? It's 15 consonants with one vowel throw in the middle. How the hell do you pronounce "Szczypek"? I propose all Eastern Europeans adopt easier to pronounce names for my personal convenience.



#15 Reality's Fringe

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 12:56 PM

I have an Irish last name and people can't even pronounce it. "Mc" is MICK.It's not "Mac"or"Meh-kuh".
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#16 johnnypark

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 12:57 PM

The only thing dumber than her comments is the fact that they're trying to defend her for being culturally insensitive while simultaneously contradicting herself.

I bet she has a lot of trouble ordering General Tso's chicken.

Besides, people can and will Fuck up every name in the damned phonebook. I've found out people generally don't look past the second syllable in ANY names, and then just make shit up the rest of the way. Pretty astounding, really. If your last name is more than four letters long, idiots out there are going to ruin it. Repeatedly. Across all languages, countries, borders, whatever.

Which is a another way of saying that everyone has short attention spans as well as names in ANY culture can be difficult to pronounce to at least someone.

I guess if my name were as boring as "Betty Brown" I'd have a hard time realizing all of that outside my tiny, tiny sphere of relevance to the rest of the world.


Couldn't have said it better, Strell. I don't think my last name is hard to pronounce at all, but it gets fucked at least once a month.
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#17 xycury

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 01:34 PM

my last name is 5 characters long, not hard, follows all the rules of american pronouncation, it's even a Town or two in this country, and elserwhere, famous in the bible, yet every telemarketer, every government agent fucks it up, and even can't spell it right when I sound out the letters to them.

People need to stop catering to the stupid.. they are bringing everyone down, it will ruin humanity.

#18 ITDEFX

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 01:57 PM

I think it's good for asians to keep their birth name and they shouldn't have to change it to "susan" or any other name just to make it easier for americans. Some of my Korean students have their birth names, but of course they go by other names like Grace. Ok...

#19 mykevermin

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 03:03 PM

I don't believe you. "DQT" is pretty hard to pronounce.


"Luh-SH-awn-dray."

Perhaps she hasn't noticed but large numbers of Asians already DO adopt Western names for a variety of reasons.


I had a student introduce himself to me after a class a bit back (early in the term). He asked for a copy of the syllabus...(omitting the boring stuff)...I asked his name. He says "Chris."

As I look at the class roster (couple hundred people since I'm not a professor but a grade factory), there are no Chrises and at least a dozen male students with Chinese names. Luckily, I was able to select him from his photo. But if I didn't have that, then by gum, I'd be fucked. Or, rather, "Chris" would be since he wouldn't get his syllabus via email.

On one hand, I understand, since many of us are self-centered ethnocentric fuckholes. "Shufang? How do you pronounce that? JEW-PANNNG? SHO-DOWN? HAW-TING-TONG-PING? Y'get it? That's funny, cuz their names are all funny!" might be an exaggeration of a common response. At the same time, I'm not your average blithering idiot; I'm an above average blithering idiot, and if your name is "Xu," just fuckin' say tell me that. I can say that.
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#20 camoor

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 03:06 PM

I have an Irish last name and people can't even pronounce it. "Mc" is MICK.It's not "Mac"or"Meh-kuh".


You're going up against years on indoctrination by fast food commercials.

Big Mac, Mac attack, you're really never going to reclaim it.

#21 jarvis307

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 03:32 PM

Asian names aren't really that hard to pronounce compared to other ethnic surnames. Have you seen a Polish last name? It's 15 consonants with one vowel throw in the middle. How the hell do you pronounce "Szczypek"? I propose all Eastern Europeans adopt easier to pronounce names for my personal convenience.


hahaha.. hilarious. i found the article itself rather funny too. i'm asian w/ an unusual name (jervey) but most ppl get it right. one of the exceptions was this hillbilly at college that kept calling me jarvis for a while.

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Asian names aren't really that hard to pronounce compared to other ethnic surnames. Have you seen a Polish last name? It's 15 consonants with one vowel throw in the middle. How the hell do you pronounce "Szczypek"? I propose all Eastern Europeans adopt easier to pronounce names for my personal convenience.


#22 dmaul1114

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 03:38 PM

At the same time, I'm not your average blithering idiot; I'm an above average blithering idiot, and if your name is "Xu," just fuckin' say tell me that. I can say that.


Yeah, I've got that too in classes, and not just with Asian students. Also with some African students.

Also see it in my girlfriends family. She just uses a slightly English-ized version of her real first name as it's not that hard. But her brother and sister both use English first names professionally etc.

Her two nephews have English names her brother and her sister-in-law picked out, and Chinese names her parents picked out. Not sure how it is legally--assume the English names are all that's on the US birth certificates and know that's what they'll use when they start school etc.

I don't really have a problem with it, they plan on staying here so I suppose it makes sense for the kids to have English first names since they're Asian-American. I don't think they should have to do so or be encouraged to do so, but have no problem with families choosing to go that route.

But I see no reason for immigrants to change their names, much less to be encouraged by public officials to do so. That's pure ethnocentrism.

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#23 Koggit

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 03:49 PM

I know quite a few international students at my school who've adopted English nicknames. I also had a professor that adopted a Chinese name when teaching abroad.

#24 Quillion

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 04:01 PM

At my former company (Japanese Owned) we had quite a few Japanese employees (enough to require a translation department in a small company). Almost all of them, except for the President and VP, adopted an Americanized nickname. Shimazu became "Jimmy", Daikoku became "Doug" et cetera.

I tried to always speak to them with their Japanese names (and the honorific, of course), but most people just accepted and used the nickname.

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#25 diddy310

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 04:07 PM

Just like King of the Hill



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#26 epobirs

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 04:12 PM

Asian names aren't really that hard to pronounce compared to other ethnic surnames. Have you seen a Polish last name? It's 15 consonants with one vowel throw in the middle. How the hell do you pronounce "Szczypek"? I propose all Eastern Europeans adopt easier to pronounce names for my personal convenience.


George Carlin: " It's spelled Koznofski and pronounced 'Smith.' They're all silent, never mind."

People manage to break anything they aren't expecting to see, even if it falls within the rules they well know for spoken English. My last name is only six letters and two syllables with no odd letter combos but people struggle with it. Worse, in sending mail they frequently assume it's wrong and change it to what they think it should be. It's worse for my mother because they do to her first name, too.

For the Asian names, the real fault is the 18th Century Brits who decided how this should be written in English and just made up weird stuff for phonemes that didn't need any exotic spelling. It's one thing when you're dealing with a phoneme that has no common equivalent in English and another when you just decide a certain combination of letters looks cool on the page.
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#27 johnnypark

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 04:24 PM

You're going up against years on indoctrination by fast food commercials.

Big Mac, Mac attack, you're really never going to reclaim it.


Maybe, but it's always been the "Big Mac" at Mick-Donalds, none of the ads say, "Mack-Donalds" when it's pronounced. In fact that's one of my biggest pet peeves when people add letters that aren't part of a word, starting with making 'Mc' into 'Mac'. If it was 'Mac' there would be a fucking 'a' there.
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#28 The Green Giant

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 06:10 PM

I adopt that Texas is bombed by some gas that only kills people with an IQ less than 80, aka all Taxans.


#29 willardhaven

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 06:23 PM

I once knew an Asian girl named Xin, her American name was Stacy.

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#30 Quillion

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 06:43 PM

I adopt that Texas is bombed by some gas that only kills people with an IQ less than 80, aka all Taxans.

Misspelling the name of a "low IQ" group you are making fun of: Epic Fail.

You just lumped yourself in with this guy:
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