The Corner

Onomastic Corner

A friend brought this to my attention.

The gist of it is, that adopting parents in Australia will no longer be

allowed to change the name of a child, for fear of severing the child’s

links with his “culture.” It includes a snippet about little adoptee Hua

Ming Qin, age 10, from China. She is “fiercely proud” of her birth name.

Quote: “I wouldn’t want to be called something like Kylie. It wouldn’t suit

me. Ming means ‘remember China forever’ and that’s special to me.”

This child may be fiercely proud of her name, but her grasp of its actual

meaning is something less than firm. Mathews’ Chinese-English Dictionary

gives the following meanings under “ming”:

—Name, reputation, fame.

—Tea, the tea-plant.

—Strong spirituous liquor.

—To engrave, carve.

—Dark, obscure, Hades, deep, profound, high, distant, stupid, confused.

—Night.

—Vast, deep, boundless.

—To close the eyes, to disturb, to sleep.

—An auspicious fabulous plant which grew in the palace of the Emperor Yao.

—Various groups of moths which produce destructive caterpillars.

—Bright, clear, intelligent, light, brilliant, to understand, to

illustrate, to cleanse, name of a dynasty.

—To sound, a sound, the cry of a bird or animal.

—A vessel, a utensil.

—The will of God, a command, a decree, to command, fate, destiny, life, to

name, government notification.

(Although, I must say, I wouldn’t want to be called “Kylie,” either. This

name is wylie–sorry, I mean “wildly”–popular in Australia because of Kylie

Minogue, a talentless trollop with a genius for

publicity–sort of antipodean Madonna.)

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