Why did you call me that?
Hi Jin Lu,
Thanks so much for teaching us some 'easy' Chinese! I'm very proud that I can read these two incredibly complicated Chinese characters already.
It's interesting how much you longed for a different name when you were young. I did too! I think lots of people do. Maybe there's a book in that - Why did you call me that?!
My name's an Irish one. You can find out more about my first name, Nuala here.
My family name's O'Sullivan (which is Irish too). O in an Irish surname, is like Mac in Scottish ones. It means son of (those patriarchal systems get everywhere, don't they?). So if you meet someone called MacDonald or McGregor they're probably Scottish or of Scottish descent. If they're called O'Reilly or O'Neill, they either live in Ireland or somewhere in the past, their ancestors did.
When I was young I wanted an easier name. Nuala was just too difficult for everyone! Because it's an Irish name, not many people in Scotland knew how to pronounce it. So every time people saw my name written down (every new school year, when a new teacher took the register) they'd say, 'Oh! That's an unusual name, Noo-a-la.' And I'd have to say, 'Well, no, actually, it's Noo-la'. All I ever wanted was a simple, straightforward name that caused no confusion. I wanted a name that was young and lovely and trendy, but most of all I wanted a nice Scottish name. I wanted to be called ... Felicity Campbell. There, now you know one of my deepest desires!
But you know that old saying… be careful what you wish for? I'm just so glad now I didn't get my wish. I love my name, and like you, Jin Lu, feel I've grown into it and can't now imagine being called anything else.
Turing to your posting, I'd just like to say again how smooth your writing style is and how easy your blog is to understand. Your writing flows well and your word choice and word combination are very sophisticated.
In terms of tweaking it a little bit, let's look at this sentence:
In my hometown dialect, there is nearly no distinction.
In English we don’t say nearly no. Instead we use expressions like hardly any, very little or almost no. With distinction the usual collocation is very little.
... there's very little distinction
You made a similar kind of slip here:
Jin Lu sounded too wrong to be a baby name
Wrong is an absolute in English. That's one of those words that's either one thing or the other; there's no in-between. For example, something is either true or it's false. It can't be a bit false. So in your sentence, either your name was right or wrong for a baby. Can you think of a way to make your sentence right?
And finally, although in general your writing is easy to understand, I have to say I was a bit confused a couple of times in your last posting. In this first example below, I think the main reason for the confusion is simply because the sentence is so long. (It comes in at a whopping 50 words!) I think if you broke your writing into smaller chunks, the meaning would be much clearer for your readers.
It’s now reasonable to assume that his parents might have called him “Ming Ming” when he was a little boy – the kind of cute baby-name I wanted but could never get because apparently, Jing Jing, as an official name, also possessed all the essential features of a baby name.
A good tip for sentence length in English is to try and say it in one breath (without first filling your lungs to maximum capacity!). When you run out of breath, it's time to put a full stop in your writing. Try reading your sentence above out loud and see how you do.
The other example where I think you could have simplified your writing is here:
But they have been, in a quiet way, very important and indispensible. The time and situations they appeared never allow a baby name.
I think I know what you mean but it seems like a very long and complicated way of saying it. And I think the final sentence there also seems quite formal (especially for an informal blog).
Anyway, that's all from me this week. Have a great weekend and I'll talk to you again soon.
All the best,
longed for – wished for, wanted
patriarchal systems - ways of doing things that are ruled or controlled by men
descent - being related to a particular person or group of people who lived in the past
ancestors – people related to you who lived before you
took the register – called each pupil's name to check if he or she was in class that day (the register is a list of all the pupils in the class)
trendy – fashionable
desires – wants or wishes
combination – mixture you get when two or more things (here, words) are put together
sophisticated - clever
tweaking – changing very slightly
comes in at – totals
whopping – very big
chunks – parts
breath - air that goes into and out of your lungs
lungs - the two organs in the chest with you use to breathe
maximum capacity – the most that you can put in something (here, your lungs)
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