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#138 White Names

Posted December 29th, 2011 by Peter · 28 Comments

Linda says: “Asian people like plain, white people names. I typed in David into Facebook and 5 out of 6 Davids were Asian. And who doesn’t know a Jenny Wu?”

Nowadays, it’s not all that uncommon to see Asians with stereotypical “white” names. This is due many Asians taking part in American culture as well as a mad case of white envy/worship.

(Read our post on #41 Eye Enlargement to see what we’re talking about)

What are some popular Caucasian names that you’ve seen tacked onto Asian faces?

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Tags: Culture · Customs · Environment · People · Social

28 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jinran // Dec 29, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    I know 3 Simon Lee’s. I think it’s obligatory to know at least one Simon Lee.

    I actually don’t know a Jenny Wu. But David is a very common White/Asian name.

  • 2 IreneWolverbuck // Dec 29, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Ethan! Too many of them. There’s also Aiden, Jenny, Michael, David and Emily.

    But those really aren’t the whitest names to choose from. Many have religious roots.

    Have you met an asian Stone, Trevor, Madison, Mackenna, Carl, Clint, Dakota, Sean, Tyler and Earl? (Yes, these are some of the names of the white people around me. I’m obviously not from California)

    I have yet to meet a Sarah Lee tough.

  • 3 Thomas // Dec 29, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    All my siblings have white names – Steven, Jennifer, Catherine. Although I haven’t met an asian friend named Stone or Carl…

  • 4 Piri // Dec 31, 2011 at 12:54 am

    That’s an awesome observation, Thomas! I wish I could meet someone named Stone or Carl as well. I know a lot of people named David Yoo (3 of them), but I only know one Chinese Thomas.

  • 5 Jennifer // Jan 3, 2012 at 2:40 am

    My husbands’ name is Allan (he and all his siblings are Chinese, 100%; parents both from China); here are their names: Judy, Jeanie, Linda, Sandy, Edward, Gary, Richard and Allan. I thought they said they gave them those names so they might blend in better where they lived? Still not sure; just glad none of his many sibblings have my name, -Jennifer.

  • 6 Jennifer // Jan 3, 2012 at 2:42 am

    *I am white in case you wondered!

  • 7 Dabao // Jan 5, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I’m certain most of them has a “real” Chinese or Korean names, while the English name is used by the immediate family more as nicknames. I know many of them name themselves. That’s what English name is really good for… nick names and names to make it easy on the white people they have to deal with.

  • 8 I // Jan 7, 2012 at 7:12 am

    You generally want most people in the country you’re living in to be able to pronounce your name. Non-Asian people’s pronounciations of Asian names typically often lead to non-response from said Asian people with said names, due to lack of realisation that it was an attempt to pronounce their name.

    Doctors’ waiting rooms, for instance, call people by their names. You typically want to realise it when your name is called.

  • 9 ill // Jan 22, 2012 at 10:50 am

    this post made no sense to me, not an insightful observation (white worship really??). Asian parents will give their kids the names of appropriate for whatever country they’re born in. i know families with children born in the old country and children born in the US/UK and they’ll have the corresponding legal names. different asian groups are more likely to stick with their ethnic names despite the fact their children are born in the US. i’ve noticed a lot of Korean and Vietnamese will stick with their ethnic names as legal names for their US-born children. Hong Kong Chinese will give their kids Western names in part because they’re familiar with those names in their old country.

  • 10 Sue // Jan 25, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    I don’t think Asian parents name their kids with Western names out of envy or worship. In fact I find that idea absurd and borderline offensive. Giving your Asian kids Western names just makes it easier for the children to introduce themselves, and it makes it easier for non-Asians to “get” their names. I suppose it’s a form of assimilation, though technically American-born Asians don’t assimilate; their parents do, if they choose to. My parents, who are Chinese, gave their three children both legal Chinese and Western names (Both names are on our birth certificates). Also, my brother and his wife allowed my mother to give their daughter Autumn a Chinese name even though she is half white. So yes, there are Asians, foreign and American born, who take pride in their family culture and do not reduce themselves to white envy. Why would any Asian in America be envious when whites are a dime a dozen?

  • 11 coach handbags uk // Feb 12, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.

  • 12 greendaze // Feb 15, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    I don’t think of these names as white names, but English names, which they are. After all, it’s not like a lot of Asian parents name their kids Julio, Hans, or Kaiser.

    When in Rome, do as the Romans do! (don’t expats in Asian countries often go by a ‘local’ name? It’s all about how ease.)

  • 13 Lauren // Feb 16, 2012 at 8:27 am

    I once met a girl from Taiwan a few years back. Having no idea that the Taiwanese use Western names, I genuinely thought that her name was Wen-Yi, when she was really saying “Winnie.”


    Why yes, I am white. Why do you ask? ; )

  • 14 Grace // Feb 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Asian-American names seem to be a generation off from typical American names–I don’t know any Asian Taylors, or Mackenzies or Dylans. It’s definitely not a “White-worship” thing (I have to admit to cringing a bit when I read that. What. Even.) as much as a “hey, let’s not stick our kid with a name that nobody can pronounce” thing. Especially with uncommon Romanizations of pinyin, like the letters Q or X or Z in names, which makes them hard to pronounce.
    Common ones that I’ve heard of: Kevin, Stephen, Christopher, Vivian, Angela and Lucy.
    Or, you know, the kid might be stuck with a name that makes it really really easy for them to be made fun of. This is coming from a girl whose Chinese name is often pronounced “Gay-you” by people who don’t speak Chinese, so.

  • 15 dee // Mar 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I know asian people called, ian, aaron, kane, cassie, phillip……

  • 16 Debbie // Mar 17, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    I teach in China at a private school where all of the students have taken on an alternative English name. I don’t know where they dug up these names, but many of them are quite dated. For example, there’s “Betty,” “Rita,” “Judy,” “Linda,” “Harry” and “Milo” (which they keep correcting me as being pronounced: Mee-low instead of My-low…I want to argue that I’m the one that speaks English but they don’t know enough English for that yet). I think those names were more popular in the 1950s than today, but I’m still grateful for it so I don’t have to try to pronounce their real names.

  • 17 Vinnie // Mar 28, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    I don’t know which part of Asia you mean – considering the last name Wu is from China specifically, so do you also consider South East Asia or South Asia as well?
    In South East Asia, you will find a lot of people with ‘Western’ names, but not because they worship white people. A lot of the countries here – such as Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia – were colonized by Christian or Catholic nations (Portuguese/Spain, British, Netherland), and they also brought their religions – whose saints, of course, were not named Zhang Xi Wen or whatever but Peter, John, Mark, etc., and people in these countries who take the religion Christian/Catholic also take the names for religious reasons. It’s not necessarily something they like, just like praying to Jesus is not a hobby.
    (By the way, do you know that anyone named Vinnie in Indonesia is – yes, this is true – a girl? I’ve had my share of weird stares from people in Canada. In Indonesia a male Vinnie would be laughed at)

  • 18 pellet mill // Apr 17, 2012 at 2:33 am

    I have understood you . Cheer up!

  • 19 Kelly // May 4, 2012 at 9:30 am

    hahaha so true…I know 3 Tiffanys, 3 Kellys (including me :P ), 3 Jonathans, 4 variations of the name Kristie/Christy/Kristy/Christie – LOL and finally, 3 Jessicas. :D

  • 20 DLeeds // May 18, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    White worship? WTF, srsly. The sad fact is people in the west are going to have an easier time saying and spelling Mary than Madhuri, and James has a better chance of being hired than Jiiro.

  • 21 A. // May 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    @ignorant white people…asians get white names cause you dumbf***s can’t remember/pronounce/appreciate asian names.

  • 22 chrissybird // Jun 27, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    The name of this blog is ‘Stuff Asian People Like’, but i think it is more like a ‘stuff-asian-people-like-but-hated-by-the-rest-of-the-world’ blog. Every different country/color have their own cultures. And of course there would be some distinct differences, and a lot of stereotypes. But i think what we should do is to actually go there and learn the differences yourself, learn the cultures and take whats good. If all the cultures are the same wouldn’t it be boring? And for this post, the only reason Asians have American names is because most Foreigners can’t pronounce/remember/understand our asian names. Not because we ‘worship’ the whites. ‘David’ is easier to pronounce than a 8-syllabled thai name right? And people can also make blogs about stuff americans/europeans/africans like. Why do you need to ‘categorize’ people buy the color of their skin? We are not some sort of animal that you can separate by color! So why don’t you just accept the differencea and learn the good things?

    Christina (the name my american teacher gave me when i was 4)

  • 23 Jennifer // Nov 18, 2012 at 3:52 am

    Maybe white people would be better at pronouncing Asian names if Asian people around them didn’t keep taking white-sounding names! Many white parents don’t seem to balk at giving their kids weird-ass names that are always mispronounced. Maybe I’m just jealous because I’ve always thought of my name as samey, though. It’s inconvenient to have the same name as three other people you know. (I am white, by the way). And some Asian parents give terrible granny names to their kids… like Ingrid or something.

    I’m sure it’s another thing for second-generation Asians with parents who want them to fit in, but I’ve noticed a trend of ESL schools making students take English names when they study English. Seeing as white (or anything) students of any Asian language will never do the same thing, I find the whole practice really disturbing. ESL students in Asia do not need to assimilate. It’s hard not to read weird racial dynamics into that.

  • 24 Danielle // Dec 11, 2012 at 10:43 am

    A lot of Asians just want their kids names to be pronounced right so they have an English first name and a middle name in their Asian language. If my first name was my Vietnamese name, everyone would either be calling me a Dragonball Z character or mispronouncing it as ‘crazy’. Not very flattering. I know someone else who changed their name once they came to the US or else they’d be called Dung. What I really feel bad is for the kids who barely even know how to pronounce their own middle names because they can’t speak their parents’ language.

  • 25 Katsumi // Jul 21, 2014 at 1:07 am

    My white friends think my real name is Veronica.

  • 26 Kathy // Sep 2, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    You will always meet a Vietnamese guy with the name either Danny or Kevin. For ladies, the names Jennifer and Tiffany are pretty popular, I think my name too.

  • 27 Lisa // Jan 25, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    Lol the original post made me laugh because it accuses Asians with English names as having white envy. Lol.

    But you should think about these things!
    If Asians are born in english speaking countries why wouldn’t they have English names? They are Americans too. Most of their immigrant parents gave them a Asian middle name , but a first name in English so they can operate well in school and jobs.

    Also think about how white people adopting Asian babies and imposing English names on them.

    Reminds me of
    English countries have been imperialistic in the past, occupying and using Asian cities and countries as their colonies, imposing English language….like what they did to India and Hong Kong.

    Let’s not forget how also White people wiped out native Americans with cultural genocide, forcing them new names and forcing them into “residential schools”

    English has become a universal business language, so countries, so people adopt English names to do business.
    So that’s why Asians have English names, nothing to do with white envy.

  • 28 Jenny // Apr 1, 2017 at 3:56 am

    If you are an employer and you have a choice between two candidates of equal talents, but one has a name that is easy to pronounce and spell, and one is hard to spell and pronounce, which candidate will you hire?

    Giving your child a name that is difficult for their teachers, potential friends and potential employers to pronounce is an act of bad parenting.

    There are only two types of people who don’t give their children boring ‘white names’.

    1. Ghetto black single mothers with sixteen children – they don’t care what happens to their children once they are too old to earn welfare. The ghetto black names are most often seen on Suspect Wanted Posters. Sensible black parents give their kids respectable and easy to spell and pronounce names like Martin (like Martin Luther King), Rosa (Parks), and Michelle (Robinson-Obama).

    2. Rich white liberal parents who love their unique little snowflakes named things like Helicopter Pilot, Apple (Apple Martini!), Rain, Culbert… they often live in affluent liberal archive where such hippie names are tolerated, and if not, their kids often have a trust fund to fall back on, and if not, their kids will change their name when they grow up and hate their parents…

    2b) The daughters of Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are named Sasha and Malia – while those names are not common western names, they are European in origin, and most importantly, still easy to spell and pronounce, and the Obamas were both affluent professionals with affluent family members (Obama and mothers and grandmothers who were bankers) who could gurantee employment.

    I would also add that in Canada, the only people who doesn’t have a western name are people Fresh Off The Boat who aren’t good in English – when they become better at English they pick a western name – and thus, the only people who keeps using Chinese names spelled in English even though English doesn’t have the same tones are the people fresh off the boat – self-fulfilling filter.

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