Re: Chinese forced to change their name hanzi

From: John H. Jenkins (
Date: Tue Apr 21 2009 - 17:08:27 CDT

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    On Apr 21, 2009, at 3:24 PM, Andrew West wrote:

    > 2009/4/21 Jeroen Ruigrok van der Werven <>:
    >> Encountered this article
    >> where it
    >> details
    >> how a Chinese woman is requested to change her name of 马骋(騁)
    >> to something
    >> else because "[t]he bureau’s computers, however, are programmed to
    >> read only
    >> 32,252 of the roughly 55,000 Chinese characters, according to a 2006
    >> government report."
    > BTW, this is a typical example of unreasonable and illogical
    > China-bashing. I just wonder if the UK or US governments would allow
    > me to register my name as "Anꝺrew Ƿest" -- I suspect that I would
    > find
    > that the governement's computers are programmed to read only 52 or so
    > of the roughly 1,202 currently encoded Latin letters -- a far worse
    > result than the Chinese governement computers.

    I got a kick out of the figure quoted. If there are only 55,000
    Chinese characters, why are we wasting our time on Extensions C and D?

    But I'm sure that your suspicions about the limitations of US and UK
    systems are correct. I'm willing to bet that I would be unable to
    legally change my name to 井作恆, which is a perfectly legitimate
    name, let alone 𐐖𐐱𐑌 𐐖𐐩𐑍𐐿𐐮𐑌𐑆. (One of the
    biggest regrets of my life is that I was too cheap to arrange to keep
    my Hong Kong government ID card, which was the only legal document
    I've ever had attesting to my Chinese name.) Even if I could make the
    name change, I would probably be forced to render the name in Latin
    letters on most of my interactions with the government, and in reality
    I wouldn't trust the computers used by the US government to handle
    anything outside of ASCII correctly.

    John H. Jenkins

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