Website Helps Chinese Choose English Names

July 27, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. laughable /ˈlæfəbəl/ (adj.) – seen as foolish or stupid
Example: His attempt to sing the song’s high notes was laughable.

2. incapable /ɪnˈkeɪpəbəl/ (adj.) – not able
Example: He works hard so he will not be tagged as an incapable employee.

3. struggle /ˈstrʌgəl/ (v.) – to be in a difficult situation
Example: They struggled to understand each other, so they asked for an interpreter.

4. unnatural /ˌʌnˈnætʃərəl/ (adj.) – not natural or common
Example: The words he used in his sentences are unnatural.

5. absurd / æbˈsɜrd / (adj.) – extremely foolish or weird
Example: Her boss got annoyed when she shared her absurd idea.


Read the text below.
A 26-year-old American entrepreneur created a business that helps Chinese people avoid laughable Western names.

Lindsay Jernigan, creator of the website, came up with the idea when she was still a real estate staff in Shanghai. According to her, she had Chinese colleagues with names like Apple and Boat. Jernigan quit her job to focus on her naming service to save people such as her colleagues from being labelled by Westerners as unsmart or incapable.

Chinese people often take English names to help their foreign friends or workmates who struggle pronouncing Mandarin names. However, according to Jernigan, some of the chosen names are weird and unnatural. To change that, the young entrepreneur launched her website, promising to give its users cool and unique names.

For a minimum payment of 148 yuan ($22), customers can avail of the basic service, with additional services such as personal counseling with Jernigan offered at higher prices. Since last year, Jernigan has given one-on-one advice to more than 1,000 people and has helped around 40,000 customers through her online questionnaire that generates suggested names based on responses.

Based on previous clients’ selections, the most popular names among customers include Lexi, Isla [AHY-luh], and Kendal for women, and Austin, Carson, and Malcolm for men. Jernigan also mentioned some of the absurd names she encountered, such as Lady Gaga, Moon, and Washing Liquid.

Jernigan said that a name gives the first impression and is one’s personal brand. She added that it can be a barrier in all future conversations, introductions, or relationships if not chosen well.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think Jernigan’s website is also needed in your country? Why or why not?
·         What do you think are the difficulties that Jernigan encounters in her naming service?

Discussion B

·         How are people named in your country?
·         If you had a son and daughter, what names would you give them? Explain.

July 27, 2016