Tuesday, 18 November 2008

How many Charlie Chans are there?

Students studying English are usually requested to choose an English name. One reason is that if they have an English speaking/non Chinese speaking teacher, it is easier for them.

The names chosen are chosen for a reason. Sometimes they just "like" the name, or it could be a famous person, or anything they know or like. They don't necessarily look at familiar English names. Hence there are all sorts of strange names, e.g. Moonshine, Winter, Rain, Eleven, Kingki, and so forth. There is always a reason they have chosen their name - even though it might be rather obscure to their English teachers.

Charlie Chan is of course very popular and it is surprising how many young fans have chosen Charlie Chan as their English name. I find it quite amusing. We have one very confident young man on campus who is first to any microphone handy and announces his name, to much cheering by the girls.

Last week I was on a crowded bus in Shaoxing, and another student and I were talking in English, and the young man in front of me introduced himself in perfect English. Could be speak with me? OK.

He said his name was Charlie. I asked. "Is it by any chance Charlie Chan?" His smile widened and he asked me how I guessed. Duh!

We had quite a chat on the short bus trip. He had graduated from another college and he was now a businessman.

I wonder, just how many Charlie Chans are there in China? And does the owenr of the real Charlie Chan name mind this type of adoration? Is there a real Charlie Chan - I thought he was fictional.

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