Looking @ baby names in China

Baby names in ChinaWill the terminology that's been coined through the advent of the Internet create a whole new generation of children's names? According to a recent story by Reuters, some parents think this is a great idea: "Couple in China tries to name baby '@'."

Here's a snippet from the story:

While the "@" symbol is familiar to Chinese e-mail users, they often use the English word "at" to sound it out — which with a drawn out "T" sounds something like "ai ta," or "love him," to Mandarin speakers.

Besides the sentiment being sweet, using the @ symbol as a name would almost make sense in Chinese, which has no alphabet and instead uses multistroke characters to represent words.

However, deputy chief of the State Language Commission Li Yuming believes that "the [@] name was an extreme example of people's increasingly adventurous approach to Chinese, as commercialization and the Internet break down conventions."

Li did not say if officials accepted the "@" name. But earlier this year the government announced a ban on names using Arabic numerals, foreign languages, and symbols that do not belong to Chinese minority languages.

Believe me, there are plenty of times when I've wanted to call my own child ! or even @%#$&. But when should we, as parents, draw the line? Under the circumstances highlighted in this story, do you think that the Chinese couple should be allowed to name their son @ — as in "Ai ta, boy"?


Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

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