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Interesting Twitter thread about naming conventions in Southeast Asia:

Vietnamese and other peoples of Southeast Asia have naming conventions very much different from those in the Anglosphere. For us, writing our names overseas is a big headache. Let me first explain Vietnamese names, then I'll touch on names in other cultures.

The comments in the thread are full of examples of Western people and systems having trouble with cultures that have different naming conventions. Of course, the Philippines isn't included in the discussion because we largely follow Western-style conventions.

When my dad and I had to check in at the hospital last year, I filled up the admission forms for both of us. Later on when the time came to settle the hospital bill, there was a bit of an issue with the government healthcare subsidy because my dad's middle name had an enye (Γ‘) on his Philhealth ID, but I had written a normal N on the admission form. The issue was easily resolved, but it reminded me how brittle official documentation can be with regards to names. Not just for IDs, but also for things like birth certificates, legal documents, credit cards, etc. It must be way more challenging when you come from a culture that has naming conventions that don't fit neatly into Western naming conventions. You have to make sure the "Western" version of your name remains consistent throughout your life, otherwise you will likely encounter problems!

People who create software also really need to be cognizant of catering to different naming conventions. Sometimes something as simple as name lengths can exclude people from different cultures. Case in point was this tweet I found a while back:

(Click photos to view full-size)


(Original tweet is here)

This would never have passed testing in any company I've worked with locally, since there are a lot of Chinese last names over here.

Related: Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names by @patio11. An old article (circa 2010), but it's a timeless classic.

I used to work at a software shop that catered to a Chinese client base, so in our forms we would often have fields for both English name (with the usual 3 fields) and Chinese name (one field). I'm not sure if that is a standard in the Chinese-speaking world though.

The same company had an office in Northeast China, and the dev team there were less Anglicized than the other offshore teams we usually dealt with. Many of them did not originally have English names, so they had to come up with English names for themselves to make it easier to communicate with remote teams (like us here in the PH). This resulted in some interesting name choices, some of them were just random English words. The one I remember the most was a dev named Trilobite (a word that sounds like it should be some kind of dinosaur but is actually some kind of extinct arthropod.) There were also names like Reamer and Small. I think some were also unaware of gendered names, like one of them took on the name "Sue" even though he was male, which resulted in some confusion especially when working with newer people. IIRC there was at least one email that had to clarify someone's gender. The whole naming thing wasn't really a problem, just occasionally amusing.

Speaking of Chinese names, I wasn't really raised under Chinese traditions or anything like that, but when I was young the father's side did assign me a Chinese name. I believe it was romanized as Tang Lun Di, but nobody I ask seems to be able to tell how that should be written out in Chinese characters! I'll update this post when I figure this out.

Thu, March 17, 2022, 2:40 p.m. / / blog / #tech-life #software-development / Syndicated: mastodon twitter / 💬 1 / 622 words

Last modified at: March 19, 2022, 9:21 p.m. Source file


rocketkeis said...

@roytang Haha screenshot ko tweet mo and send to Pam :D