Chinese Couple Wants to Name Their Kid @

Posted on September 6, 2007

A Chinese couple wants to name their new baby "@".
A Chinese couple tried to name their baby "@," claiming the character used in e-mail addresses echoed their love for the child, an official trying to whip the national language into line said on Thursday. The unusual name stands out especially in Chinese, which has no alphabet and instead uses tens of thousands of multi-stroke characters to represent words. "The whole world uses it to write e-mail, and translated into Chinese it means 'love him'," the father explained, according to the deputy chief of the State Language Commission Li Yuming.

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. Li told a news conference on the state of the language that the name was an extreme example of people's increasingly adventurous approach to Chinese, as commercialisation and the Internet break down conventions.
The Chinese government has to approve all baby names. Can you imagine if the U.S. government had to approve all baby names? The Minister of Baby Names -- what a great position. All day long, you'd just tell people why they aren't allowed to name their kids things that will result in them getting the crap beat out of them in elementary school.

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