Monday, October 3, 2011

Refreshingly, an Austronesian Taiwanese uses her real name in the Mandarin-speaking education system

Aboriginal student Malai-yitzu Temalalate shows her ID card with her transliterated Chinese name, which uses nine Chinese characters and a symbol to separate the names, on Sept. 10.
Photo: Lee Li-fa, Taipei Times

Article in Taipei Times:

Paiwan girl makes more friends with long Chinese name
名字超長 排灣姑娘人緣超好

Malai-yitzu Temalalate is a 20-year-old Paiwan woman. Her transliterated name in Chinese includes nine Chinese characters and a dot separating the two parts of her name. It had to be edited in a special way so that all the characters could fit in the space for names on the ID card. She said that because her name is so special, teachers often pay more attention to her during roll call. Many of her classmates want to get to know her because of her extremely long name, allowing her to make many new friends.

Temalalate studies at Tzu Chi College of Technology in Hualien. She is an only child, and both of her parents are also members of the Paiwan ethnolinguistic group. Her ancestors were chieftains, so she has always received a lot of attention since she was very little. Her father gave her the beautiful Paiwan name of Malai-yitzu, which refers to the beauty of a woman that even the blooming flowers and full moon cannot match. Temalalate identifies her as a member of a specific tribe.

She said she used to go by her Han Chinese name, Lee Nien-tzu, when she was a little girl, and that her elementary school classmates still call her by that name. She started using this significantly longer transliterated name when she started junior high school. At first she was not used to being called by the name at all, and it always takes a long time to write her entire name when she has to fill out forms or take exams. Since her classmates do not know what to call her, and in order to make things simpler when introducing herself, she tells them to call her Malai, which is a shorter version of her given name.

Malai said there are about a dozen classmates in her school with an Aboriginal background, but she is the only one who uses an ancestral tribal name. She says that because of the name teachers always enjoy calling her name during roll call. Although she feels the name is an inconvenience when she gets a chop engraved or fills out applications, she is happy that companies tend to hire her because they think her name is very attractive.



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