Working for a Chinese company presents many opportunities for gaining insight into a foreign culture. One thing that’s different about Chinese is how they’re named. That is, often when Chinese emigrate to the US, they will adopt a more “US” sounding name to use in place of their given name. For example, a woman named Xiou Yan may choose to call herself Betty Yan when she comes to the States. This helps them assimilate into society better – they don’t have to try to teach American tongues to say “Xiou” using an sh- sound, for example. Can someone tell me why Chinese women often select some of the oldest, old-person, early bird special, AARP, “Murder She Wrote”-watching, Metamucil-taking, octogenarian names ever? I mean, Doris? Daisy? Gladys? Catherine? Nancy? Phyllis? Someone explain why there are so few Brittney Xians in the US. This is specific to China-born Chinese, so don’t tell me about your friend Caitlin or Stephanie who was born in Trenton. They don’t count.

But sometimes they elect to keep their given names, which is also cool. Unless the name is one that is tough to say out loud. Which brings me to my Chinese 102 lesson for the day.

There’s a man in my office named Kun.

It’s pronounced “coon”.

I’m black.

I can never, ever call him by name.

“Yo, Kun, what up? Ni-Gah!!”

As you can see, that’s destined for failure. Stay tuned.